As NFL’s Last Unbeaten Team, Atlanta Is On Everyone’s List
By Matthew Asher
With six games completed in their schedule, Atlanta is the only team to have not suffered a loss yet. That means until the ’72 Dolphins allegedly pop their bottle of bubbly, Atlanta can expect to have a bullseye on their jerseys. Being undefeated, more things have gone well for the Falcons than things have gone wrong, but of course, there are always improvements to be made.
Atlanta’s passing offense has been strong every game. The Falcons currently rank ninth in the league by averaging nearly 275 yards through the air each game. Even more impressive than passing numbers is their scoring efficiency. Currently the sixth best in the league as far as points scored, Atlanta averages 28.5 points each game.
Through the air, Atlanta has thrown 14 touchdowns, the fourth most in the league. So you know, two of the teams that have more passing touchdowns than Atlanta (Green Bay with 20 and Buffalo with 15) have played 7 games while Atlanta has played just 6. The other team ahead of Atlanta is the New Orleans Saints who have 18 touchdown passes in six games.
For those who love statistics, here is where Matt Ryan’s aerial efficiency ranks against his fellow quarterbacks. Ryan has thrown the second most touchdown passes (14), is fifth in completion percentage (67.8%), fourth best in total yards (1,756) and fifth best QB rating (98.8).
Atlanta’s rushing attack. With the exception of the Carolina game, Michael Turner and the rest of the running backs for Atlanta have underperformed. With just 4 rushing touchdowns in 6 games, Atlanta is tied for the twelfth least touchdowns on the ground. Atlanta currently has the sixth least rushing yards (519) and of the five teams ranking below Atlanta, three of them have played just 5 games. Atlanta’s 86.5 rushing yards each game is the fifth least so far this season.
It’s not like one running back is doing alright and the others are struggling. Michael Turner, Atlanta’s starting running back, has had a bad season. While his 4.3 yards per carry may seem respectable, you need to not count the Carolina game, the only time he broke 100-yards on the ground. Take away that game and Turner averages 3.6 yards a carry and just nine yards on six catches (again, excluding the 68 yards he got against Carolina) for an abysmal 1.5 yards per reception.
The Beautiful (opposite of ugly for once)
Atlanta’s kicking games. Atlanta placekicker Matt Bryant has made all 18 extra points and 13 of his 14 field goal attempts including two game-winning field goals in Atlanta’s last three games. Bryant’s longest kick this season was a 55-yard game-winning kick against Oakland in the waning seconds of the game.
The punting game of Atlanta has been great as far as winning the field-position battle. While Matt Bosher may not have the most punting yards, he’s very good about making each yard count. The net average of punting takes into account the total punting yardage and subtracts the return yardage, this means out-kicking your coverage costs you when a great punt is returned. Bosher has a net average of 42.4 yards per punt, the sixth best in the league.
After their bye week, Atlanta heads to Philly to take on former Falcon quarterback Mike Vick and the 3-3 Eagles. Kickoff is 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.