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The Value of Things: Roses and Thorns — Atlanta Falcons Edition

How will the Falcons attack the Texans?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The world sometimes descends into chaos. Statistics help bring that chaos back into order. After four games we begin to see some patterns and some order to the disorder happening around us. Statistics can ultimately tell us a lot of things and can help predict the future. We now can predict what will happen on Sunday. At least if the Falcons want to be successful we can predict how that might happen.

We use PFF scores to grade individual players. We have been looking at the top five players from both teams each Sunday. The Houston Texans players look pretty much the same. Four games is still a small enough sample to see some changes, but looking at which position groups have the best players tells us how the team should attack.

Houston Texans Top Five

WR Nico Collins— 91.0

CB Steven Nelson— 79.9

DE Will Anderson— 76.7

WR Tank Dell— 74.7

QB C.J. Stroud— 73.3

Four of the five top players are drafted players. This is normally the way the NFL works. You use free agency to fill in gaps and not necessarily to build a core. Three of those five players are from this past draft. If Caserio and company can do that again next season then you could see this team return to the status they had when they were routinely winning the AFC South. In particular, when your quarterback is one of your five best players you are in good shape.

Atlanta Falcons Top Five

S Jessie Bates— 92.0

DT David Onyemata— 88.7

LB Nate Landman— 83.7

G Chris Lindstrom— 81.0

C Drew Dalman— 78.6

PFF scores are not the end-all be-all of human existence, but they do help paint a picture. The Falcons are carrying a good offensive line and two of the best running backs in the NFL. Desmond Ridder is the lowest ranked regular quarterback in the NFL. Again, this is only one source. However, he has a quarterback rating below 80 and has already thrown three interceptions on the season. So, this helps inform us on how they will beat us.

How will the Falcons offense attack the defense?

The Atlanta Falcons are 24th in total offense, but their running game is 11th in yards and yards per carry. Clearly, they want to run the ball and even in their losses they have shown a consistent ability to gain yards. I’m not sure if Bijan Robinson is the best back in the business, but he is definitely one of the top five. The Falcons are DAL in passing yards and 28th in net yards per attempt. If they beat the Texans it will have to be on the ground.

How will the Falcons defense attack the offense?

The Falcons are seventh in the NFL in yards allowed. This is a good defense overall. However, they are 21st in turnovers generated. The are more or less middle of the pack in terms of rushing yards allowed and yards per carry allowed. So, they beat you by limiting the passing game. At this point, it could be a case of teams running on the Falcons when they get a lead. They are ninth in net yards allowed per attempt, so they might be one of the more stingy passing defenses that the Texans have faced this year.

How will the Texans offense attack the defense?

The Texans are fourth in the NFL in passing yards and sixth in net yards per attempt. It has been a very long time since the Texans last ranked in the top ten or top five in any significant good category. They are 26th in rushing yards and 30th in yards per attempt. Clearly, it should be obvious how the Texans will move the ball if they do. The Falcons will obviously key on Collins and Dell, so this might be a day for Dalton Schultz to shine.

How will the Texans defense attack the offense?

The Texans defense is 20th in yards given up, but they are 11th in points given up. That is because they have been fairly opportunistic with their five turnovers and key plays on third and fourth downs. Jonathan Greenard leads the team with three sacks. Will Anderson only has one and unofficially scored his first touchdown as a Texan (they called it back on a bogus call). It is highly likely that he ends up finding Desmond Ridder at least once and that is especially true if they feel the need to focus on Greenard. The Texans want to make Ridder beat them and based on the first four games, he can’t.