Football Outsiders: ‘Nightmare’ scenario sees the Falcons blown out

Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) runs back an intercepted ball from a Atlanta Falcons two-point conversion during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Please don’t let the Pats trade for Eric Berry. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The biggest football game of every year always yields a staggering amount of verbiage about non-football stuff. (To wit: Sam Adams beer.) Or ephemeral football stuff. (Is Matt Ryan “elite”? I detest that bit of ESPN-manufactured “debate,” and not just about Matt Ryan.) Or football halftime stuff, or football snack-related stuff, or … well, you know.

Today’s small exercise involves a bit about actual football. Vince Verhei of the invaluable Football Outsiders has studied the Atlanta Falcons’ four worst games — the losses to Tampa Bay, San Diego, Philadelphia and Kansas City — to get a read on what happens when they’re not at their best. One key finding: When opponents do get a bit of handle on this raging offense, it’s not because they shut down Julio Jones or even the running game; it’s when Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel aren’t as involved.

Verhei: “When you’re talking about a great offense like Atlanta’s, the best you can realistically hope for is to keep their scoring down to about a league-average level and hope your own offense can do better than that. And New England’s offense certainly can do better than that, especially against this defense. The Falcons were horrible against the run in their good and bad games alike, but their pass defense went from ‘below average’ over the whole season to ‘total incompetence’ in their four bad games.”

I know better than to argue with FO’s numbers. (Because you can’t argue with numbers, can you?) I would, however, suggest that two of those bad games came before Halloween, and the latest — the Dec. 4 loss to the Chiefs — saw K.C. score its final 16 points on plays that didn’t involve the Falcons’ defense (nine points courtesy of Eric Berry, the other seven off a fake punt). The Falcons lost by one. The Chiefs did gain 389 yards, though.

Verhei’s worst-case scenario for the Birds: “Big plays in the passing game will put some points on the board, but an inability to extend drives will give New England’s offense too many opportunities to score and the Falcons will be powerless to stop the Patriots’ long marches. In this kind of Deep South nightmare world, the Falcons score in the neighborhood of 20 points and still get doubled up.”

Not a pretty picture, I’ll admit. But it is, we repeat, a worst-case thing. I’m pretty sure there are sunnier scenarios to be made. I’m imagine we’ll offer one or two over the next nine days.

Further Falcons:

The Falcons are headed to the game that defies simulation.

A revealing take on Matt Ryan from someone who knows him well.

Memo to Boston: I won’t apologize for Atlanta or the Falcons.

The Falcons are underdogs, but they absolutely can win.

Facing the hated Patriots, the Falcons are now America’s Team.

A Super day: Atlanta domination, Atlanta validation.

The matchup: These Falcons against Atlanta history.

The Falcons have been here before; most of these Falcons haven’t.

How the soaring Falcons rebuilt on the fly.

ESPN: The 49ers will offer Kyle Shanahan their head coaching job.

In Aaron Rodgers, the Falcons will be facing the NFL’s Michael Jordan.

(Gulp) Here comes Aaron Rodgers. But the Falcons will still win.

If I’m the Falcons, I’m rooting for Dallas. (Yes, Dallas.)

The ascendant Falcons make short work of Seattle.

Don’t fret over these Falcons: They’re too good to flop.

Reviewing October’s epic Falcons-Seahawks game.

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
weci
weci

My Uncle Samuel just got a stunning blue Infiniti QX80 SUV by working part time from a computer. 

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PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Reading some of the posts down blog I wonder how the Pats can possibly win - then I remembered that Bill Belichick is the coach and Tom Brady is the QB. 

On more important issues - Sam Adams?  Overrated.  Harpoon is the best brewery in Boston.

noname
noname

@PaulinNH overated? Sam Adams started the American Revolution.

nezaxopu
nezaxopu

as Tracy said I'm startled that someone able to make $4114 in one month on the internet . 

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bigmacondawg
bigmacondawg

Wouldn't surprise me to see New England beat the stu of out the Falcons.  Most of us are looking more forward to national signing day anyways than the superbowl. 

Rob Britt
Rob Britt

@bigmacondawg Wouldn't surprise most people if the Falcons exposed the Pats and their piece of human trash coach and QB as pathetic frauds.  You know all those "gates" you keep wanting so desperately to get behind you?  That's called cheating,  and history may show that when the Patriots don't get to cheat, they don't want.  


Falcons win.  Period.  

TideDawg
TideDawg

Blowout Falcons....Blowout Patriots.....Close game.....down to the wire.....boring....exciting! You've heard & read all of the predictions. Some are going to be right and 95% are going to to say I told you so after it's over regardless of what they predicted. It's a free country and free speech(although we came real close to losing those rights). Everybody gets in on the "predictions act"....if they wish to do so. It's a game in itself and it's a fun game. No one is exempted from making predictions. What it does boil down to is there are 2 first class QBs in the game(some may argue that point) and there will be no sullen clam ups for the winner. No walkouts, no clown suits, no clown acts, no special dances(by the QBs) no running up and down the sidelines flashing a big toothy smile when they feel they have performed above greatness. NE is a class organization(although some may argue that point, also) and Atlanta appears to be building a class organization. Atlanta has taken the first step in that direction by gaining respectability this season. It's tough to repeat....NE has done that....Atlanta has not come close.


So, I'll take my shot at predicting...why not!! My heart is with the Falcons but my wallet says New England 31 Falcons 27. Probably a lower scoring game than expected. 

Jerry916
Jerry916

What were his predictions for the Falcons before the season stated?  How many of the Falcons' games has he predicted correctly this season?


Shut up, and let me watch my Falcons beat the Pats on the field of play, and not in your mind!!!!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 (Because you can’t argue with numbers, can you?)


Trump says what ? With Alternative facts you sure can.

Carterev
Carterev

Mark, you most certainly can argue with the interpretation of numbers and what those numbers measure or should measure.  That is the essence of statistical analysis.

KBP
KBP

@CDOG47 What top offenses have the Patriots played? Look at your 2016 schedule and you'll see why you are number one in scoring defense. While your defense is statistically better than ours, this year ours is more battled tested against superior offenses. We played Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson twice this year and are 5-1 in those games. I am not taking anything away from your team, I am saying our offense is going to put pressure on your defense in a way you have not seen this year. Again, we have faced Brees, Rodgers, and Wilson twice this year. What could McDaniels throw at us offensively that those teams have not? I'll give a clear edge to Edelman in the slot and I'll give Brady the slight edge at QB this year because he has not been head and shoulders above Matt this year and other than that, what advantage do you have offensively this year? It's going to be a great game and we can win it.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Sure, this worst-case is possible. Mack or someone else on the O-line could go down and the pressure on Ryan could be unbearable. Turnovers.


A key to this analysis is the defense, which while not dominating (or is it?)  is much better now than it was even at mid-season. The x-factor is experience, which no doubt the Pats will scheme to confuse.


The Falcons just knocked off the Seahawks and the Cheeseheads, who took down the NFC-season best Cowboys. There is no reason why they cannot beat the Pats, only a question of will they.

CDOG47
CDOG47

@DawgDadII @KBP Um yes there is, New Englands offense can keep pace with anyone, especially in big games as they have proven.  And, the thing that makes "Outsiders" think the Pats can slow down Atlantas offense is that they are the #1 defense in the league - HELLO????

TChris
TChris

Worst case scenario huh? How about...Sat Feb 4, 2017 a humongous asteroid collides with earth and we're obliterated...thus Super Bowl LI never happens!...There's a "worst case scenario" for you! Sheesh...give me a break! 

Warning! Birds In Flight! #RISE UP! Falcons coming...

KBP
KBP

Exactly what makes Football Outsiders think the Patriots Defense can stop us from having long drives? The Patriots Linebackers are more adept at stopping the run than covering backs in the flat. Their huge 3-4 linemen are more adept at stopping downhill runners like Leveon Bell than outside zone slashers like Freeman and Coleman. Do what OSU did to Bama in 2014, make those big defensive linemen run sideline to sideline ALL GAME LONG and see if we won't have cutback lanes in the 3rd and 4th quarters. IF our O-line can give Matt time, there is no team in the league this year that can match us offensively ALL GAME LONG. Finally, I just don't believe Brady will have the time he had against Pittsburgh. I think their interior line will have its hands full with Grady Jarret's and Hageman's pass rush. #FREAKINGRISEUP!

BTC
BTC

Sounds like 'alternative facts' to me...