Four weeks into the season, you’re just getting into a position to really judge what sort of side your team will be. While we all know that you can’t take too much from early season form, as 2016’s Vikings and Eagles can back up, the first quarter of the season is often a good indicator as to whether you’ll be a contender or a pretender. The 2-1 Buffalo Bills travel to the Peach State to face the 3-0 Atlanta Falcons. The much vaunted Falcons offense faces probably it’s toughest test of the season so far, while the Tyrod Taylor-led Bills will be asked to put up points against one of the quickest defences in the league today. Below is Week 4, Bills @ Falcons Preview:
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
The State of New York’s only true NFL franchise, the Buffalo Bills, are something of a strange beast to analyse. An expected 21-12 victory over AFC East compadres, the New York Tanks, left the Bills Mafia satisfied. A 3-9 loss to Head Coach Sean McDermott’s previous employers in Carolina a week later, however, saw more than a few eyes roll. Week 3 saw something completely unexpected, however, as the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos both struggled to move the ball on the Bills, as well as contain the dynamic Tyrod Taylor.
Week Three showed that the Bills have the nouse to challenge the best defences. Although he was limited (both in touches and in production), LeSean McCoy remains one of the league’s elite backs, and someone that needs to be taken into account on every down.
Tyrod Taylor, however, is enjoying something of a solid start to the season. With an offseason of contractual uncertainty in the past, Taylor has put up 4 touchdowns to 1 interception. Add over 100 yards on the ground, to compliment is 582 in passing, and he’s back to his “pretty good” best. That said, his receiving options are somewhat limited. Tight End, Charles Clay, and former Eagle, Jordan Matthews, make up the bulk of his yards, however Taylor does often look to McCoy out the backfield. The offense is far from “elite”, but it’s doing the job.
A Win is a Win
On the opposite side of the ball, the Atlanta Falcons represent the only unbeaten side in the NFC. After blowing out a legitimate contender in Green Bay on Week 2’s Sunday Night Football, the Falcons travelled to Michigan, to face the then 2-0 Lions, and escaped with an incredibly fortuitous victory. We’ll take them any way they come.
Week 3’s trip to Detroit was the second away game for the Falcons that ended in less that ended with a less than enjoyable final drive. The Falcons looked out of sync. Matt Ryan found his stat-sheet marred with three interceptions (though was only reasonably at fault for the first). Had Matthew Stafford pulled off his 490th game winning drive, Ryan would have likely shouldered the blame. The Falcons essentially handed the Lions 10 free points thanks to less than stellar offensive play. And yet, they still managed to put up 30 points. 30 points- and that’s a BAD game.
Cause for concern, however, was just how easily the Lions found it to move down the field on the final drive. For all my offseason cheerleading for the deepening of Atlanta’s defensive pool, the side still looked as if they were tiring towards the games end. Mental mistakes were allowed to creep in. Top five Cornerback, Desmond Trufant, and his partner, Robert Alford, may make up one of the best Corner pairs in football, however needless penalties from both players essentially handed the Lions 4 downs from the 1 yard line.
Back in Black
The Falcons welcome the Bills to their new home, and will do so by donning their amazingly gorgeous black throwback jerseys. That is needless information, yes, but I would kick myself if I didn’t mention it. They’re really nice jerseys, and I hope you will appreciate them as much as I do.
Back onto the serious stuff. For Buffalo to walk away from the Mercedes-Benz Ridicu-dome, their defence is going to have to be on point. Buffalo has yet to face an offense even half as good as what the Falcons boast, and the loss of Gilmore will truly be tested. Despite his early promise, the young Tre’Davious White has yet to face anyone close to Julio Jones. How McDermott plans to contain him remains to be seen.
On the other side of the ball, Buffalo almost require a return to form from their elite back. McCoy is due a breakout performance, and when better than against a defence somewhat susceptible to the run? The addition of Dontari Poe and the continued development of Grady Jarrett has made Atlanta less horrible against a solid ground game, however the use of McCoy in the passing game could yield positive results for the Bills.
IT’S A TRAP(?)
That was unnecessary. There will be swaths of pundits and fans across the globe who will suggest this has the making of a trap game for the Falcons. A tough defence, a tight win the week before; are Atlanta due to crash back to Earth? Personally, I can’t see it. As I mentioned, Buffalo haven’t faced an offense as loaded with weapons as this. If Freeman continues to run at the rate he did in week 3, if Ryan re-calibrates and puts the mistakes of the week previous out of his mind, I can see the Falcons scoring upwards of 24 points. Assuming the defence reacts to the energy that’ll no doubt be coursing through the the stadium, a fourth win of the season ought to be routine.
Bills @ Falcons Preview, Week 4.
Bills @ Falcons Preview