Gameday preview: Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins

ATLANTA,GA- The Atlanta Falcons (3-10) will welcome the Washington Redskins (3-10) to the Georgia Dome on December, 15 at 1:00 p.m.

This is a game where neither team can truly be considered a winner or a loser. If Atlanta wins they will have given something for the fans to cheer about for the night. If they lose, they inadvertently improve their draft stock and a few undeserving guys may lose their roster spot on the team.

Either way it’s a compromising situation to place a fan of the team in. Unless you have players on your fantasy team in the game; in that case I suggest you sit back and grab your popcorn because there will be lots of yards surrendered on both sides of the ball for both teams. I can’t promise touchdowns but there will be yards.

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Kirk Cousins will attempt to step out from Griffin’s shadow. (Photo Credit: Pat Smith/Getty Images)

Players to stop

With the benching of the Redskins franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III, some might think that Atlanta will have an easier time stopping the backup. That was the case last week but the Falcons still lost to Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers (6-6-1). Even with the rough conditions there was little excuse to put up zero points in the second half of that game.

I wholeheartedly believe that Kirk Cousins is a better backup than Flynn, and given the chance he might even make a good game-managing starter. Over his very brief five games played, he has a commendable passer rating at 75.9 with a completion percentage of 61.6 percent. However, he has lost the football seven times with five interceptions and two fumbles. The touchdowns are pretty scarce with only four under his belt. All of these of course came in the 2012 season.

Atlanta must make this young man doubt himself and his ability. To accomplish this the Falcons don’t have to sack him or hit him a large number of times but they must be able to break down his pocket. Once Cousins gets on the move he won’t be able to make his throws. If RGIII was still in the game this would actually hurt Atlanta, but because Cousins is a better passer and not as good of a scrambler, a little disruption is all that is needed.

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In addition with moving his pocket the defensive backs will have another challenge on their hands as Pierre Garcon poses a quiet but very potent threat when he is on the field. Other teams have been able to neutralize him because for some reason Santana Moss has been almost a non factor this year along with many of the other wide receivers in D.C. With no true number two receiver to take pressure off of Garcon he is often limited to 11 yards per catch.

I believe the rookie corners in Atlanta should leave the field without letting Garcon get a catch over twenty yards. Washington has been struggling in getting the ball to receivers all year and Atlanta has only allowed one scoring touchdown to a wide receiver over the past month. I expect this trend to continue because the best way to score on Atlanta lately has been through a strong running game.

That’s exactly what Alfred brings to the table under Mike Shanahan. If Shanahan gets fired he should not find another head coaching gig but just become a running back assistant coach. Seriously, you could plug almost any running back that likes to run down hill and not make cutbacks into his system and they’d easily break 1,000 yards rushing per season.

Alfred Morris won't have much chance to celebrate when Atlanta starts throwing the football. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr)

Alfred Morris won’t have much chance to celebrate when Atlanta starts throwing the football. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr)

The only flaw in Morris’s game is the fact he’s on a team where if they fall behind in the first quarter they completely abandon the run game. That shows lack of confidence in not only the offensive line but the defense. So the best way to stop Morris is actually going to be through the air this game and not bothering with trying to establish a run presence here. That would be playing right into the Redskins’ game.

Game Plan

Score on the first two opening drives and get Washington scared, back them into a corner then they’ll start chucking the ball to receivers that have been open since 2012; thus eliminating Morris in the process. Especially since Morris is a complete non factor in the passing game. Roy Helu Jr. usually steps in for that duty. Overall there seems to be some trust issues going on in that organization so some good smack talk at the line wouldn’t hurt both to throw off their game and get the team flustered a bit.

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