The Washington Redskins are coming off a 30-13 win over the New York Giants and host the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at FedExField. They are currently 5-2 and first place in the NFC East. Washington will need to find a way for the passing game to start clicking as they face a very potent offense. Washington’s offense is only averaging 20.9 points a game but the team has been able to win games thanks to their defense.
This is a must win game for Atlanta if they want any chance of staying in the playoff race. It will take a miracle for the Falcons to overtake the 6-1 Saints for the NFC South. The wildcard is also very competitive so Atlanta has no room for error. Matt Ryan is having another great year as he has thrown for 2,335 yards with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Ryan’s favorite target, Julio Jones, is also off to a great start. Jones has 53 receptions for 812 yards, but surprisingly has caught zero touchdowns. Washington’s Josh Norman will mostly lineup against the Pro Bowler. Young corners Quinton Dunbar and Greg Stroman will be tested by rookie standout Calvin Ridley. Ridley has proved to be a great compliment to Jones as he has 392 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Washington’s defense has been the major reason they are 5-2. The unit ranks fifth in total defense, second in rushing yards allowed, and 13th in passing yards allowed. The defense is led by safety and captain D.J. Swearinger, Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan, and the Alabama duo, Jonathan Allen and Da’ron Payne. To help the secondary, Washington just traded for Pro Bowl safety, HaHa Clinton Dix. Dix will make his Redskins debut this Sunday. According to Pro Football Focus, Dix is the third ranked safety and is joining D.J. Swearinger who is the best ranked safety. It will be interesting to see how Ryan will fare against the two ball hawks.
Atlanta’s offensive line will be tested against Washington’s stout defensive line. It may be easy pickings for Washington because Atlanta has four injured offensive linemen. If Matt Ioannidis can disrupt Ryan like he did to Eli Manning, Washington will be in great position.
Atlanta is also facing a challenge in Adrian Peterson. The 33-year-old is having a career renaissance as he just torched the Giants for 149 yards and two touchdowns including a 64 yard run to ice the game. Atlanta was able to hold New York’s Saquon Barkley to 43 yards. Washington is 0-2 in games that Peterson has rushed for 20 or less yards. At the same time, the team is 5-0 when Peterson rushes for 90 or more.
Atlanta’s defense is giving up 30.3 points per game, which is third worst in the league. Atlanta has lost key defensive players to injuries such as Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and Deion Jones. To make matters worse, cornerback Robert Alford is dealing with an injury that might keep him out of Sunday. If Alford cannot play, his replacement would be rookie Isaiah Oliver. If the Redskins passing game is ever going to get it together, this would be the time. Alex Smith has yet to be on target with his receivers and sooner or later that will cost the Redskins.
Atlanta will be hoping for a shootout while Washington is expecting to shut down Ryan and the passing game. If Alex Smith can finally get on target with his receivers, look for the Redskins to become 6-2.
Feature Image From Bleacher Report.