Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan face vaunted Bengals' defense on Sunday
Matt Ryan sits smoothly in the pocket

Matt Ryan will try to duplicate his week 1 performance. Cincinnati has a dominant pass rush, so Atlanta needs to slow it down with running attack.

The Atlanta Falcons have the overall No.1 offense in the NFL, entering week 2. Behind Matt Ryan’s immaculate performance last Sunday, the Falcons were able to start the season on a good note.  The 445 yards Ryan put up in week 1 were astronomical, so it’s unlikely that’s the Falcons will have a repeated aerial performance. That’s a lot to ask for in back to back weeks.

However, there should be no surprise if Matt Ryan can find some flaws in the Cincinnati defense. Sunday’s conditions will be prime for another passing display. What makes Atlanta so powerful is the advent of a ground game, with multiple running backs in the fold.  There’s no doubt that Cincinnati will be keen on stopping Matt Ryan and the passing attack, so it’s imperative for Atlanta to use the ground game. 

That’s exactly where the Falcons can attack the Bengals’ defense early.  For one, a running attack will slow down that vaunted pass rush, and blitz schemes that Cincinnati will throw at Matt Ryan.  The Bengals already proved that throwing the ball 60 plus times a game is not a fruitful game plan against their defense.  Therefore, Atlanta has to make the Bengals’ defense play on their heels.  

The Cincinnati Bengals gave up quite a bit of yards through the air in week 1, but for the most part, they got the Ravens off the field on third down.  Time and again, Cincinnati made huge plays at pivotal moments.  These plays manifested itself at the end of each half.  

With the Ravens down 15-0 and approaching halftime, Cincinnati pressured Joe Flacco into a clock killing play. The Ravens had a surefire three points if not for Flacco’s mistake, but Cincinnati caused that confusion.  It wasn’t the only time that Baltimore missed out on scoring chances in the seven point loss.   

Baltimore had a chance to tie the game in the final moments and Cincinnati’s defense came up big with another sack to secure the win.  Both sequences of plays were deep in the red zone, and Cincinnati mastered the bend but don’t break mantra.  

If Atlanta expects to win this game, they have to score points at every available opportunity.  It’s not to say that the Falcons can’t make mistakes, but when Matt Ryan is leading a promising drive, Atlanta needs to finish.  

Roddy White is probable for Sunday’s game after sustaining a knee injury.  Barring any setback, White will be ready for action.  However, Atlanta will be without starting tackle Jake Matthews, who injured his ankle against the New Orleans Saints.  

 
 
 
 
 
William Harrison
By William Harrison 09/14/2014 10:08:00