Four things to OBSERVE Week 4 against the Falcons
1. Atlanta’s attack on offense
From Matt Ryan to Julio Jones to Devonta Freeman, the offense that the Falcons boast is dynamic. Jones is a top-five wide out in the NFL and Ryan isn’t nicknamed ‘Matty Ice’ for nothing as he has a clutch trait (that goes dormant during the Super Bowl).
The Buffalo Bills defense, which ranks first in points allowed per game (12.3) and sixth in yards allowed (278.3), has a difficult challenge to stay stout four weeks into the 2017 season.
“They have multiple weapons to defend,” Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday. “What we have to do is start at ground zero and make sure we are who we are, and that means a fundamentally sound defense in everything we do. We have to play extremely sound defense, team defense and make sure we’re communicating. I don’t know if you’re ever going to take a player of that caliber away, but you have to know they’re going to make some plays and we have to make plays on our end as well.”
Jones has been on a tear while averaging 16.6 yards per catch and 88.3 yards per game. However, he and the Buffalo Bills defense have something in common. Both have not had a passing touchdown yet this season.
2. Taylor on the run
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison have had an up-and-down ride so far in 2017. From Week 1’s beatdown of the Jets, where both the run and pass games found success to Week 2’s three points on the scoreboard, the offense has been an enigma to say the least. Taylor noted after the win versus Denver that Dennison has been open minded to what Taylor is efficient in.
The stretch play actions to a plethora of rollouts, Taylor’s 20 for 26 and 213 yards through the air proved he has the capabilities to put an offense together despite the running woes (21 yards from McCoy on the ground). Taylor and the offense will face the fast Falcons.
Atlanta has allowed only 85 yards per game via running and that ranks eighth in the league. However, the passing game leaves optimism for Taylor as the team allows 245.7 yards through the air through the first three weeks. That ranks 21st in the NFL.
3. Undefeated, but not uninjured
The Atlanta Falcons are without Vic Beasley, hamstring, and Ricardo Allen, concussion. The duo missed both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practice with the expectation to miss Sunday’s game versus the Bills. Beasley is listed as out, but Allen is questionable.
See OBSERVE, Page C3
Beasley, who never missed a game since entering the league in the 2015 NFL Draft, has been out since Week 2. The linebacker is coming off of an explosive season on defense.
He tallied an NFL-leading 15.5 sacks last season, and in the first two weeks of this season he has had a sack in each game. Buffalo may have dodged a bullet as its offensive line is up in the air with Cordy Glenn’s injury keeping him off and the rookie Dion Dawkins filling in.
“They are a speed-based group,” Bills guard Richie Incognito said. “It’s on us up front to create some lanes and get the run game going.”
Allen’s loss will not be as direct as the safety missed only one game since 2015 and tallied five interceptions the past two seasons.
4. The power of Poyer
Safety Jordan Poyer didn’t find his groove with the Cleveland Browns nor the Philadelphia Eagles. It was unknown who the Buffalo Bills picked up this offseason; Poyer’s best season was in 2015 with the Browns as he got two interceptions and one sack. Besides those numbers, the safety put up inconsistent numbers and has been on and off the field with only one full season (2014) in his resume.
In Buffalo, Poyer has created anew. In his first three games, he has two sacks, one interception and helped turn the Bills into the No. 2 best red zone defense in the NFL this season. Poyer’s play pops up in the most critical moments as he has batted down possible touchdowns and downed quarterbacks to create momentum.
Something the team will need with Jones and the run game coming in strong for the game versus the Bills.
Buffalo will face Atlanta at 1 p.m. today.