ATLANTA, GA- The Atlanta Falcons (2-9) will line up against the Buffalo Bills (4-7) at the Rogers Centre on December 1, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
As a part of the Bills’ Toronto Series, that started in 2008, the Bills are obligated to play at least one regular season game per year. The contract ended in 2012 but was renewed on January 29, 2013. However, not all Buffalo Bills support the idea of playing the Falcons inside a climate-controlled environment. Their record is 1-4 in regular season games inside the Rogers Centre.
Usually their home games are played at the Ralph Wilson Stadium where the team is exposed to the harsh cold weather at this point in the season. Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson believes the team is giving up a distinct advantage over the Falcons that normally play well in controlled climates.
“Yeah, they must have fixed the schedule or something out there in Atlanta. It’s supposed to be out here at the Ralph,” Johnson said Wednesday, “Who put the schedule together to have them come to Toronto?”
Steve Johnson is a great player but he is once again showing his true colors of being a diva off the field. He should spend less time worrying about how the Falcons won’t be affected by the weather and more time catching the ball. However, I’d be OK if he provided an excuse for the Falcons to go to Canada and win this game.
Key players to stop
Besides Johnson, the first thing the Falcons have to worry about is how they plan to stop the combined rushing attack of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. While Jackson has been more consistent on a week-to-week basis, Spiller is still a highly explosive player. They both have about the same yards rushing over 11 games. Spiller has earned a total of 507 yards rushing compared to Jackson, who pulls in at 555 yards rushing.
On top of that, Jackson is used on passing downs extensively and has gashed teams for huge chunks of yardage. In a year where the Buffalo Bills expressed doubt at the quarterback position, the one constant has been there steady dose of ground game,including screens and dump-offs, between these two.
Kiko Alonso is a sensational rookie second round prospect. He is seemingly a lock to be the defensive rookie of the year and has already received votes to attend this year’s Pro Bowl. Those are accolades that the highly paid Mario Williams just started to receive, except with a bit more drama. Alonso is already playing like he’s been in the league for five years.
The combined effort of Alonso and Williams will be a steep challenge for the anemic rushing attack of the Falcons. The path to victory in this game will be decided through the air, being inside of a dome without the weather conditions hampering throwing or pass catching ability of the team.
Now that there have been rumors swirling around the release of Steven Jackson at the year’s end, it’s hard to see the team trying to implement him long term into the future of this organization. I have stopped expecting anything creative from the offensive coordinator in regards to getting the ball into his hands. Jacquizz Rodgers will be used in the passing game and I suspect it will be effective against the Bills since they allow a healthy amount of yards through the air.
The Bills will provide a stout wall for anything the Falcons try to run down the center. Matt Ryan, who has been having a great year personally, will have to produce better than average numbers before the team even has a shot at winning. In order for this to happen, Roddy White needs to step up for the Falcons in a big way. Last week he only had a couple of grabs for 24 yards. The team needs superstar talent and everyone else is either hurt or just too old. White still has a few years left in the tank, he just needs to show enough to keep fans believing in this team.
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