Saturday, November 30, 2013
W2W4: Falcons vs. Bills
By Vaughn McClure
They might be in a foreign country, but the Atlanta Falcons shouldn't feel out of their element when they arrive in Toronto this weekend to face the Buffalo Bills.
Just ask quarterback Matt Ryan, who made the trek to the Canadian city this offseason.
"It feels like any other city you would go to in the United States," Ryan said. "It's a cool place to visit. But it will be very familiar to a lot of guys."
Here's what to watch for when the Falcons head north of the border this Sunday:
Lined for trouble: You can’t help but feel bad for the Falcons offensive line. The Bills are tied for the league lead with 37 sacks, led by Mario Williams with 11. Based on film of the Bills’ last game against the New York Jets, Williams will line up on both sides, so left tackle Lamar Holmes and whomever lines up at right tackle better be on alert. Not to mention the Falcons have to be aware of defensive tackle Kyle Williams’ rush up the middle, if Williams is healthy. He showed up on the injury report Friday with a back injury and is questionable.
Eye on Osi: Speaking of pass-rushers, the Falcons could use a strong effort from one of their own. Veteran defensive end Osi Umenyiora leads the team with 6.5 sacks but has gone sackless in seven different games throughout the season, including last week against the Saints. The Falcons need to put pressure on Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, and Umenyiora needs to lead the effort. "I've just got to finish, man," Umenyiora said of his focus for the last five games. "I know we have to go out and perform like I know we're capable of. I know I've got to do that myself."
Double trouble: The Bills are the only team in the league with two rushers over 500 yards in Fred Jackson (591) and C.J. Spiller (507). The Falcons are 28th in the league against the run, surrendering 130 rushing yards per game. So, Sunday will pose quite a challenge for the defense. "C.J. Spiller is very fast, and we’ve got to make sure that we set the edge," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He can get up in the hole and he can bounce out very quickly. Fred Jackon is a stronger running back, but he has some escape ability as well. So it’s going to be important for us to make sure that we leverage the ball from outside in because we don’t want them to circle the wagons. We want to make sure that we keep them hemmed in."
Catching up? It’s been a tough season for Roddy White, primarily due to ankle and hamstring injuries that caused him to miss three games. But White had full practice all week and looks poised to make an impact after recording just two catches for 24 yards against the Saints. White has just 20 catches for 209 yards with one touchdown. But the 32-year-old certainly wants to show that injury is the only factor that has limited his performance. Not to mention White surely wants to have a strong finish to ensure he deserves a sizeable contract extension this offeason.