Redskins at Falcons
Atlanta, GA - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons certainly need a matchup with a weaker opponent. Facing the Washington Redskins should give them a good chance to win, but may not help Ryan end his struggles.
Losers of two straight for the first time under coach Mike Smith, the Falcons hope Ryan can handle a tough defense as they face an otherwise woeful Redskins team Sunday.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Falcons -10 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on the Falcons -10 (View NFL bet percentages).
Atlanta (4-3) has struggled since winning four of its first five, losing 37-21 to Dallas on Oct. 25 and 35-27 on Monday night. The Falcons' defense faltered in those matchups, and Ryan fell short in trying to compensate.
He threw three interceptions versus the Saints and was picked off seven times over his last three games. His nine interceptions are two shy of his total from last season, when he was the NFL offensive rookie of the year.
Smith believes Ryan might be trying too hard.
"A lot of times it's from being competitive and wanting to make plays," Smith said. "I think that's the thread that has run through the interceptions that have occurred over the last three games. Matt is very competitive and confident in himself and in his receiving corps that we can make plays."
The Redskins have lost three straight and are 2-5 on the season, but a bounce back game for Ryan may not come easily.
Washington's defense is ranked second against the pass, giving up 164.9 yards per game while allowing six TDs. The Redskins are fifth in total defense at 283.4 yards a contest and in scoring defense at 17.6 points per game.
Washington has been more vulnerable against the run, allowing 118.5 yards a contest, but has limited opponents to three rushing TDs.
Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, encouraged by Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner's strong performance against New Orleans, could go with a run-heavy game plan to take some of the pressure off Ryan. Turner had his best game of the season last week with 151 yards rushing and a score, and may have helped himself by spending extra time watching film of his 2008 season, when he was the NFL's No. 2 rusher.
Atlanta will face Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who made two Pro Bowls with the Falcons after being drafted in the first round by them in 2004.
Hall got into a sideline shouting match with former Atlanta coach Bobby Petrino during the '07 season and was traded to Oakland during that offseason. This will be his first game at the Georgia Dome since the trade.
He faced Atlanta last year in a home game while with the Raiders, a 24-0 loss Nov. 2, 2008, and was cut after the contest. Washington signed him days later and gave him a $54 million, six-year contract this past offseason.
"I'm not Brett Favre walking back into Lambeau, but there's definitely going to be a little emotion tied into this thing," Hall said. "I saw a lot of those guys mature as players, mature as people on and off the field. Can't wait to go out there and mix it up with them."
Hall and the defense have tried to help Washington overcome terrible performances offensively. The Redskins, with a banged-up offensive line, are ranked 28th in the league with 13.7 points per game.
Left tackle Chris Samuels (neck) and right guard Randy Thomas (triceps) are on injured reserve, and Jason Campbell has been left with little time to pass while Clinton Portis is struggling to find holes. Campbell has been sacked 20 times and Portis has been held under 4.0 yards a carry in five of seven games.
"We went into the season, and we didn't address that issue," Portis said of the lack of depth on the line. "And it came back to haunt us."
Even if the Redskins improve, it might not result in wins. Each of their next five opponents has a winning record.
Washington owner Dan Snyder rarely talks during the season, but he had some telling comments Tuesday at an event to celebrate one of the franchise's charity programs.
"We feel frustration and are disappointed for our fans," Snyder said. "Obviously our performance to date is not what we expected, and we hope to turn that around."
This will be the teams' first meeting since Dec. 3, 2006, when Atlanta won 24-14 at Washington.
Posted: 11/4/09 3:10PM ET