The 4-0 Atlanta Falcons visit Fed-Ex Field, home of the 2-2 Washington Redskins in a quest to stay undefeated and become the first team to reach a 5-0 start on the season (1pm ET, Sunday).
The moneyline betting lines make the Falcons favorites at odds of -155 and the spread gives them a -3 point handicap (at odds of -105). So, even as the road team, the usa sportsbooks expect Atlanta to win this game.
The Redskins, behind Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, will have something to say about this. Their offense has come alive this season averaging 30.8 points per game. It is their defense that has proved costly in the two losses to the St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. In four games this season, the Washington defense has also yielded 30.8 points a game.
Against QB Matt Ryan and the high powered Atlanta offense, the Redskins could face some trouble. Their defense ranks 31st in the league allowing over 326 pass yards a game to opposing quarterbacks and the Falcons have the 11th best passing offense with over 267 yards a game.
Even though the Falcons have a solid defense, this game will likely turn into a shootout like so many of the ‘Skins games this season. Behind RGIII, Washington has the 15th best passing offense and second best running game. They will need more of the same if they hope to defeat Ryan and the Falcons. Although the spread doesn’t show it, the Redskins will benefit from playing at home.
It won’t be an easy game for the Redskins and it is doubtful they will get it done. The Atlanta offense is too crafty for Washington and just like the Redskins, can handle their own when the score starts to climb.
Matt Ryan vs. Robert Griffin III
Coming into this season, Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan was considered a top ten or top 15 quarterback. He had been good for Atlanta but never great. He got them to the playoffs but wasn’t able to advance them to the Superbowl.
Now at age 27, Ryan is entering a pivotal point in his career. This is his chance to rise the ranks and become akin to the Drew Brees’ and Aaron Rodgers’ of this league or to stay stagnant and be considered more of a Tony Romo type player.
If the four games this season are any indication of the player Ryan is going to become, then it bodes very well for the Falcons and their still young quarterback.
With an offense that features some of the most prolific pass catchers in all of the NFL, Ryan has been nothing short of perfect. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes to just two interceptions and has passed for 1,162 yards. He is second in the NFL with a 69.4 completion percentage and is first in QB rating with a 112.1. He has attempted no fewer than 31 passes a game for a team that on average scores 31 points a game.
Now, the Falcons haven’t exactly played tough teams so far in their schedule and they certainly have not faced off against the defensive juggernauts of the league. That said, you can’t discount what Ryan and the offense have done. They are balanced in their passing and running game and are able to spread the ball around.
The re-emergence of 36-year-old tight end Tony Gonzalez certainly has helped as he has become Ryan’s go to receiver in third down situations. He has 26 receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Ryan’s other go to in wide receiver Roddy White has also been a big part of the Falcons and their success. He has 27 receptions for 413 yards and three touchdowns, with his most important game coming in Atlanta’s comeback victory over the Carolina Panthers. White saw most of the targets come his way as his fellow receiver Julio Jones took the double team. White caught eight passes for 169 yards and two TDs to help lead the Falcons to victory over the Panthers.
While Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year, it cannot be discounted that he has the weapons, (Gonzalez, White, Jones), to get it done. The QB he will be facing off against on Sunday may be just as good if not better but he is doing it without a cast of characters to back him up.
Other than tight end Fred Davis, the Redskins lack star power at many of the skilled positions. While the Falcons and Ryan have White as their number one receiver, RGIII can only turn to Pierre Garcon whose five year career saw him as the back-up to Marques Colston and Lance Moore in New Orleans.
Backing up Garcon is not a guy with extraordinary speed like Julio Jones but rather another second year player with good size in Leonard Hankerson. On the season he has been one of the Griffin’s favorite receivers catching 13 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.
Without explosive weapons, RGIII has still shone as one of the best quarterbacks in the league this year. His ‘run first and pass second’ style is very similar to that of Panthers sophomore QB Cam Newton, but a major difference between these two is that Griffin can air it out when he needs to. Griffin’s numbers may not be comparable to Ryan’s but they are impressive nonetheless. He, along with running back Alfred Morris have combined to have the league’s second best rushing offense and Griffin himself leads the NFL with his four rushing touchdowns.
Falcons at Redskins Picks
With two talented quarterbacks taking the field, don’t expect either defense to really play a huge role in the outcome of this game. In fact, it isn’t likely that either defense will really be able to do much against the high flying air attack of Ryan or the ground and pound style of ball played by RGIII and the Redskins.
- Couple this with the trend that all four of the Redskins games have played the over this year, take the total to exceed 52 @ -105 with Bovada & -110 with BetOnline.
- Also, take the Falcons to easily cover the -3 points deficit on the spread as they charge on to their fifth win of the season @ -105 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -115 with Bovada.