Week 5: 2019 NFL Season (100th NFL Season)
Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 @ 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX (NRG Stadium)
Over/Under: 49; Texans -5 (-230)
Moneyline: Falcons +190 , Texans -230
The struggling 1-3 Atlanta Falcons hope to avoid a three-game losing streak as they head to NRG Stadium on Sunday to take on the 2-2 Houston Texans.
Despite being widely considered to be Super Bowl contenders this season, the Falcons are dead last in the NFC South. Meanwhile, the Texans are at the top in a four-way tie in the AFC South despite falling short to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 at home. This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams, both splitting the series two apiece.
Falcons Continue to Struggle on Developing Offensive Consistency
Atlanta on paper is considered one of the best offensive teams in the league. Prior to the beginning of the season, the Falcons were favored to have a legitimate chance of knocking off the New Orleans Saints for the top spot in their division.
Now, the Falcons are 1-3 in the season and have lost two straight games after their Week 2 win against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Last week against the Tennesee Titans was a dud. Even though QB Matt Ryan recorded nearly 400 yards, none of his passes resulted in a touchdown. Tight end Austin Hooper did have a big day, recording nine of his 11 targets for 130 receiving yards.
This still wasn’t enough as the Titans put immense defensive pressure on the Falcons, resulting in them only scoring 10 points. The running game was nonexistent, with just 58 total yards for the game.
Ryan can sling the football in the air with great ability and have talented receivers like Pro-Bowler Julio Jones to throw it to. However, Atlanta has many flip-flop moments where the offense is amazing one game and dismal the next.
For instance, Jones made 5 catches for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns that resulted in a win for Atlanta in week 2. In Week 4 against the Titans though, he had four catches for only 52 yards.
Running back Devonta Freeman has recorded 47 carries for 157 yards within Atlanta’s first four games; none have resulted in a touchdown.
The issue with the Falcons isn’t that they don’t have an offensive presence. It’s just that the offensive presence has been inconsistent.
In order for Atlanta to avoid a three-game losing streak, Ryan must throw high and the offense must make catches and complete plays to beat Houston.
Houston Must Have Better Protection of Deshaun Watson
Like Atlanta, Houston couldn’t get their offense going in last week’s 16-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Deshaun Watson completed 21 of his 33 passes for 166 yards and was sacked 6 times. Watson has been sacked 18 times so far this season.
Despite the Texans defense doing a beautiful job of holding Carolina to 297 total yards, the offensive line failed to protect Watson; in many plays, Watson looked like he was running for his life.
Atlanta doesn’t have much of a pass rush, so Houston shouldn’t have much trouble scoring. However, they still must do a better job of protecting Watson to prevent him from getting seriously injured.
Since Atlanta has a weak pass rush, Sunday’s game should be a little easier for Houston scoring. The defense is also doing well led by Pro-Bowler J.J. Watt, who can put great pressure on Ryan. Still, the offense’s lack of protection for Watson is alarming.
Even though Atlanta suffers from offensive inconsistencies, this can be a comeback game for Atlanta. Ryan is expected to put up large passing numbers, while Jones and Freeman can have big receiving and rushing games.