By Matthew Asher
After the Green Bay Packers dominated the Houston Texans 42-24, the Atlanta Falcons are now the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL. With a well-deserved bye week Atlanta will be able to rest up and prepare for the final 10 games of the season.
Atlanta may still be undefeated, but they are far from perfect. For the most part, Atlanta’s offense has been solid. Atlanta’s 275 passing yards each game is the tenth most in the league and their 14 passing touchdowns are the second most.
On defense Atlanta’s mantra appears to be of the “bend but don’t break” mentality. Giving up just 223 yards of total offense each game, the eleventh ranked defense does an even better job at preventing points from being scored. Of the teams to have played six games, Atlanta has given up just 113 points, the second least amount allowed.
While as a team Atlanta has been playing well, not all players are performing at top efficiency. This is a list of players who have either failed to meet their expectations or have done much more than expected.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is off to his best start as a pro. Completing nearly 68 percent of his throws, Ryan has thrown for 1756 yards with 14 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. He is currently on pace to throw for career-highs in passing yards (4,683), touchdowns (37) and rushing touchdowns (3).
While Ryan started off red hot, his last three games have shown that he is still human. The first three games Ryan threw for 8 touchdowns and just one interception. The past three games have been more difficult throwing just 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions with 3 coming this past week. With all the passing though Ryan is on pace to throw for a career-high in interceptions with 16. His current record is 14 interceptions thrown his sophomore year.
Kicker Matt Bryant has quietly morphed into Atlanta’s most efficient scorer. Bryant is currently 13 for 14 on field goals with a season-high 55 yard kick. In the past three weeks, Bryant has kicked two game-winning field goals. Given how cool he’s been under pressure Matt Ryan might want to think about handing over the “Matty-Ice” nickname.
Living up to Expectations
Atlanta’s receiving corps. With Matt Ryan doing such a great job passing the ball Atlanta’s three-headed monster of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez have each come through when needed. You can’t individually rank these players because when one has difficulty for a game Ryan simply targets the other two receivers.
These three receivers have each led the Falcons in receiving yards at least once this season. These receivers account for 110 of Ryan’s 160 completions, 1,359 of Ryan’s 1,756 passing yards and 12 of Ryan’s 14 passing touchdowns.
Running back Michael Turner has been consistently inconsistent. Except for the game against Carolina, Turner hasn’t eclipsed the 100-yard rushing total. Turner is currently on pace to run for 952 yards and just eight touchdowns. Since becoming a Falcon, Turner’s lowest offensive production was in 2009 when he ran for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns. However Turner only played in 11 games that season.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.