Game #4 has two 1-2 teams matched up in Washington vs. Atlanta

Photo by Sol Tucker for Talk WFT

Washington is in Atlanta for this showdown of 1-2 teams that are struggling near the bottom of every statistical category. By the numbers, the Falcons have the slight edge overall with their 18th ranked defense going up against the WFT’s 22nd ranked offense. On the other side and more of a shock is that the WFT’s defense is ranked 30th in the NFL. But they might get some help since Atlanta’s offense is 28th ranked. If it feels like two lousy teams facing each other on this Sunday, the numbers don’t lie, they are lousy teams at the moment and for Washington, they are under-achieving. They aren’t even bottom of the barrel in matchups today because the Dolphins face the Colts.

So what does the team from Washington have to do to win today? Well duh, score more points than Atlanta. Yes, it is that obvious for the answer. That is all they have to do, but it has to start with some fixes on the defense that has regressed. We have seen few big plays from Chase Young who is in his second year, and many expected him to dominate this year after being named the Defensive Rookie of the Year from last season.

Some have said that Washington’s defensive stats are skewed due to a tougher early schedule so we will see today what the Falcons playmakers can do. They are led by Cordarrelle Patterson who has more yards from scrimmage than Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. They have veteran QB Matt Ryan still under center. This is an offensive squad that has been together for a long time.

This is Taylor Heinicke‘s offense now, and he returns to the city where he grew up. He has to show week over week improvement, and will get some help today as Curtis Samuel has been activated to play after an IR stint. Heinicke has his own playmakers out there but the offense overall is in the bottom half for both their rush and passing offense.

“There’s always the chess match. They’ve got different things they can do. They can chip, they can go five out, however their approach, they’ve got to decide what they want to do offensively. Defensively, we’ve gotta be able to attack it.”

“I mean we don’t hand out trophies after three weeks. It hasn’t been the start that we all wanted or even expected, but it is what it is and we’ll deal with it. Kind of man up, take responsibility. Accountability starts with me. I’ve made that very clear with our group of coaches and players. We all have to do that. We all need to be this much better, and then it gets a lot better for all of us. It’s shared responsibility. It’s very much accountability and like I said, I love my guys. I love the players and coaches that I work with every day. It’s a really good group.”

— Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio

The defensive line was supposed to be the best in the NFL this year for Washington. Accountability is great to have but at some point the results have to be there. This is a team that used their 1st round pick, 19th overall pick, to go defense and draft linebacker Jamin Davis who is returning to his home of Georgia today. The good news is that Davis has improved week over week but is 5 tackles enough? We still haven’t seen the big play from Davis yet. Hopefully this is his week as he plays in front of family and friends.

By the numbers, Washington might also be the worst third down defense in the league, and they have allowed 58.7% of 3rd down conversions. Also, in the first three games this season, the defense has allowed touchdowns on the opening drives in each of those games. The team’s third down offense is nothing great either. While they have lost to a good Chargers and Bills team, this is their time to turn it around on the road in Atlanta. Head coach Ron Rivera is obviously frustrated also. He expected improvement from last year and it just seems more of the same.

“I’d like to say I think some of us are playing a little cautious. We don’t want to make mistakes, so we allow things to happen in front of us. I think some of us are trying too hard to make something happen and that’s costing us. And again, it’s really just do your job, put yourself in position. I’ve said this, the play doesn’t care who makes it okay. There’s plays out to be made and if you’re supposed to be, you get a chance to make those plays.”

— head coach Ron Rivera

So the head coach said it, time to make some plays. That is really what this comes down to as to who makes the plays and who doesn’t. This game basically marks the traditional first quarter of the season at completion of the fourth game. You usually have a good sense of the team you have. Barring a tie, one team will emerge at .500 and one will be knocked down to 1-3. Washington has to be the team that emerges at .500 in this one.

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)

WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX

SPREAD: Washington -1.5| O/U: 47.5

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