The Atlanta Falcons (4-4) will head to Firstenergy Stadium to battle the Cleveland Browns (2-6) in Week 10 (November 11, 2018 at 1:00pm EST). The Falcons opened as 4.0-point favorites.
Atlanta’s offense is largely dependent upon Matt Ryan’s throwing arm. Their second-ranked passing attack is the stimulus for the 28.5 PPG they score (8th). But Ryan wouldn’t want the praise to go any further without noting his best receiver, Julio Jones, for their triumphs.
This kind of effort has been required from Ryan, as their rushing attack has been pitiful, averaging a horrendous 4.1 yards per carry (24th). Ryan’s 2,685 passing yards and 19 touchdowns (5th) has been Atlanta’s saving grace.
The connection between Ryan and Jones (933 receiving yards and one touchdowns) this season has been phenomenal. The two connected for 121 yards and one touchdown against the Redskins last week, and will look to punish Cleveland’s defense the same way on Sunday.
Atlanta is going to need every point they can muster in Week 10, as their defense has been deplorable this year. The Falcons are giving up 28.3 points per game, ranking 29th in the NFL. Their defense is getting torched through the air, allowing a disgraceful 304.3 passing yards per game (29th).
Fortunately, Atlanta’s defense avoids any sort of offensive juggernaut this week, when they take the field against the Browns. Cleveland is scoring just 21.1 points per game (23rd).
Scoring points in today’s NFL is extremely hard when you can’t throw the ball. This is what Cleveland is facing, as their miserable aerial attack has resulted in defenses stacking the box to slow Nick Chubb, daring Baker Mayfield to beat them throwing the ball.
Mayfield has not shown the ability to consistently threaten a defense this season, and until he does so, the Browns can expect to continue seeing extra defenders at the line of scrimmage. The QB has thrown for just 1,768 yards with a 10:7 touchdown to interception ratio. Facing a Falcons defense this week that ranks 29th against the pass offers a tremendous opportunity for Mayfield to gain some confidence under center. The Browns simply need him to come through.
The Browns defense doesn’t offer much help. They’re allowing a shameful 27.4 points per game, the fifth-most in the league. They have offered little resistance against anything an offense has tried against them. Cleveland gives up 285.0 yards per game through the air (27th) and 138.9 on the ground (29th). It appears the biggest threat to Matt Ryan’s numbers this week is Tevin Coleman having too big of a game, and vice versa.
The last meeting between these two came on August 18th, 2016, when Atlanta shocked Cleveland 24-13. The Browns were 2.0-point favorites in that game.