ATLANTA (5-6) to WASHINGTON (6-5)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST, Fox
FANDUEL SPORTS BOOK NFL LINE: Commanders for 4
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Falcons 7-4; Commanders 6-4-1
SERIES RECORD: Washington leads 10-16-1
LAST GAME: Washington beat the Falcons 34-30 on Oct. 30. 3, 2021, in Atlanta.
LAST WEEK: The Falcons beat the Bears 27-24; The Commanders beat the Texans 23-10.
FALCONS ATTACK: AGGREGATE (26), RUSH (3), PASS (31), SCORE (12)
FALCONS DEFENSE: AGGREGATE (30), RUSH (21), PASS (29), SCORE (28)
LEADER ATTACK: AGGREGATE (23), RUSH (16), PASS (21), SCORE (23)
LEADER DEFENSE: AGGREGATE (6), RUSH (6), PASS (12), SCORE (12)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Falcons minus-1; Commander for a moment
FALCONS PLAYER TO FOLLOW: Rookie WR Drake London. Already a starter, London could be asked to carry a bigger load after TE Kyle Pitts went on injured reserve on Monday with a knee injury. London, the team’s first-round draft pick, has touchdown catches in consecutive games. He leads Atlanta’s first offense with 39 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns.
PLAYER LEADERS TO WATCH: QB Taylor Heinicke. It also begins after Carson Wentz was slated to return to training following surgery to fix a broken finger. Heinicke’s ability to extend footwork makes Washington’s offense challenging, given the two-headed running monster of Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. and his options in the passing game from Terry McLaurin onward.
KEY MATCHUP: Falcons KR Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Commander’s kick cover. Patterson had a 103-yard touchdown return against the Bears, his ninth of his career, and the most in NFL history. Rivera knows Patterson is dangerous any time he has the ball in his hands, and Washington special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor will have his unit ready for him.
MAJOR INJURIES: Falcons TE Feleipe Franks (calf), RB Caleb Huntley (ankle), LB Arnold Ebiketie (arm), OL Chuma Edoga (knee) and DL Jalen Dalton (toe) had a limited number of attendees at training sessions Wednesday. … Commanders edge rusher Chase Young may be playing for the first time in more than a year since he tore the ACL in his right knee. … LB Cole Holcomb is expected to miss his fifth straight game with a foot injury. … CB Benjamin St-Juste’s status is unclear after he left the Texans’ game with an ankle injury and missed practice on Wednesday.
SERIES NOTES: The Falcons are playing Washington for the first time since 2018. … Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith spent two seasons as Washington’s assistant, serving as defensive quality control coach in 2007 and ’08. His father Frederick W. Smith was a Washington minority owner before Dan Snyder bought it in March 2021. He is the founder and CEO of FedEx, the title sponsor of Commanders stadium, FedEx Field. … Rivera is looking for his 100th win as a coach, counting the regular season and the playoffs.
STATS & STUFF: The Falcons and Commanders sit just outside the wild spots in NFC. … Atlanta QB Marcus Mariota has seven passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in five road starts this season. … Patterson also rushed for 52 yards against Chicago. … RB Tyler Allgeier ranks third among rookies with 498 rushing yards. … WR Desmond Ridder will try to become the third Falcons rookie, following Julio Jones in 2011 and Calvin Ridley in 2018, to have TD catches in three straight games. Jones’ streak lasted four games. … LB Rashaan Evans led Atlanta with 11 tackles last week. He has 10 or more in three straight games. … S Jaylinn Hawkins had his second interception of the season last week. … Younghoe Koo made a 53-yard field goal to put the Falcons on the Bears with less than two minutes left. … Washington is 4-1 since Heinicke took over from Wentz as the starter. … Gibson had 103 yards from scrimmage, 72 rushing and 31 receiving, in the win at Houston. … Robinson rushed for over 50 yards in consecutive games. … McLaurin leads Commanders with 50 receptions. He has at least 50 in each of his first four seasons as a pro. … WR Curtis Samuel had his first rushing touchdown of the season against the Texans. … DT Jonathan Allen had two sacks last week to tie fellow Alabama product Daron Payne for the team lead with 6½. … LB Jamin Davis should start again with Holcomb out. … CB Kendall Fuller intercepted Houston’s Davis Mills and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown last week. He was his first-6 pick in his career.
FANTASY TIP: Almost everyone on Washington’s offense is a good bet to start with, given Atlanta’s struggles on defense. Samuel is used in jet sweeps to throw the ball, as well as catch it, so he could be having a great day.
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