The Jets welcome the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons to MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The Falcons are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak with all three defeats coming against AFC East opponents.
The Falcons have a number of weapons on offense and it starts with quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, has thrown for 1,590 yards and seven touchdowns this season while completing 67% of his passes. However, the 10-year vet has thrown six interceptions, one less than he tossed all of last year.
With the No. 7 ranked offense in the NFL, Atlanta has one of the top receiving duos in the league with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Jones has recorded over 1,000 yards in four of his six seasons and at 6'3", 220-pounds, he poses a mismatch for most cornerbacks.
Defensively, a pair of speedy second-year players lead the unit in linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal. Jones and Neal pace the team with 49 and 42 tackles, respectively, and have combined for five pass defenses. The Atlanta edge rushers have a knack for getting to the quarterback as OLB Vic Beasley led the NFL last season with 15.5 sacks. However, this year Beasley and DE Brooks Reed are tied for the team lead with 3.0 sacks.
Offensive Matchup to Watch: Jets OL vs. Falcons DL
The Falcons defense is known for its speed and they like to send pressure. The Jets could be without starting RT Brandon Shell, who left the Dolphins game with a neck injury. But Shell's replacement, Brent Qvale, did a solid job in Week 7 action against the Dolphins. One way to neutralize a good pass rush is the screen game, which the Green & White executed well in South Florida.
Defensive Matchup to Watch: Jets Front Seven vs. Falcons RBs
While the obvious answer deals with the passing game, the Jets have to contain Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. An 1,000-yard rusher in two of his first three pro seasons, Freeman is dynamic with a combination of speed and power. The 5'8", 206-pounder has a career rushing average of 4.3 yards while Coleman has an average of 4.6. The Green & White did a good job last week against the Dolphins, holding Jay Ajayi to 51 yards on 23 carries for an average of 2.2 yards a clip. Expect the Jets to try and take away the run game to apply the pressure on Ryan.