LANDOVER, Md. — Good morning. It’s the Sunday of what is shaping up as one of the worst sports weekends in Atlanta sports history. (I don’t want to declare it as the worst. Too much competition.)
On Friday, the Braves lost their wild card playoff game to St. Louis 6-3. On Saturday, Georgia got bodyslammed by South Carolina 35-7 and Georgia Tech lost to Clemson 47-31.
Today, it’s the Falcons’ turn to . . . well, what exactly?
They face the Washington Redskins. On paper, this is a game they should win. The Falcons are 4-0 for only the third time in franchise history (1986, 2004, 2012) and have one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Redskins are 2-2, their only wins this season have come over New Orleans (0-4) and Tampa Bay (1-3) and they have one of the worst defenses in the the NFL (29th in total defense, 31st in pass defense, 27th in scoring defense).
But if the backdrop of the Atlanta Sports Weekend From Hades isn’t enough reason to cause concern about today’s game, here are a few things that might:
• Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) can make plays and has been remarkably efficient for a rookie, completing 69.4 percent of his passes with four touchdown passes and only one interception in 124 attempts. He is averaging 250.8 yards passing per game, but he has been sacked eight times. He also is rushing for 58.5 yards per game (and has four touchdown runs).
• The Falcons’ pass protection, a question coming into the season, was a problem against Carolina last week. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked seven times. It needs to be better today, especially given that it’s a road game and crowd noise could become a factor.
• It’s not easy to stay undefeated in the NFL, no matter who the opponent is. That was reaffirmed in the Carolina game. The Panthers, particularly quarterback Cam Newton, were emotionally down and beat up coming into the game. But the Falcons were fortunate to get out of the Georgia Dome with a 30-28 win — only because of a last-minute field goal drive, helped by a 59-yard pass from Ryan to Roddy White.
For what it’s worth, it has been cold and drizzling in the Washington D.C. area, so we’ll see how that affects the two teams today.
What to look for? Mostly whether the Falcons come out firing against the Washington secondary, which includes our good friend (slight sarcasm), DeAngelo Hall. Hey, maybe Hall and coach Mike Smith can rumble again.
That’s it for now. Do you think the Falcons win today to end the sports misery in Atlanta, or do the Redskins complete a sweep?
I’ll be here all game to chat.. The cyber-venting lines are now open.
By the way, I just received the Falcons’ inactive list: QB Dominique Davis, CB Terrence Johnson, FB Lousaka Polite, T Lamar Holmes, TE Michael Palmer, DE Jonathan Massaquoi and DE Cliff Matthews.
By Jeff Schultz