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Five things to watch when Falcons face Jaguars in London

The Week 4 matchup features two teams hungry for redemption. Who comes out on top? 

LONDON -- As your context clues will tell you based on the headline of this article and the dateline, the Falcons have made the trip across the pond. We're in London, baby. (Yes, this is a Friends reference and I hope you got it).

The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Falcons at Wembley Stadium Sunday morning eastern time, early afternoon London time.

Beyond the fact this game has gone international, there's so much to break down when it comes to this matchup. Let's waste no time getting to it, mates.


1. Jeff Okudah's return to the starting lineup..?

The Falcons have done their due diligence in slowly working Okudah back into game form. Okudah missed the first two games of the season with a foot injury he sustained in training camp. He got the all-clear ahead of the Falcons Week 3 game in Detroit and the Falcons gave Okudah specific looks. He only played in third-down situations. Otherwise, the Falcons continued to start Tre Flowers opposite A.J. Terrell, but they also gave Mike Hughes a few outside reps in that game, too. In all, the Falcons played four corners last Sunday, three in rotation.

The Falcons coaching staff has said the goal is for Okudah to return to a starting role, but they don't want to rush him back, thus increasing the risk of soft tissue injuries popping up. Though he wasn't targeted against the Lions last week, assistant head coach/defense Jerry Gray said he was still pleased with what he saw from Okudah in his first live football action of the season.

"I thought he did a good job," Gray said. "He didn't get targeted any, but his technique was very good on all of the plays that he played. That was a good plus for us. So, we'll just keep adding to his total and see. Eventually when he gets himself in football shape, then Arthur (Smith) will make the decision of 'Hey, it's time for him to go ahead and be a starter.'"

That may happen sooner rather than later, though, as Okudah was working with the would-be, first-team secondary in Friday's open practice period. This could mean something, but it also couldn't. The Falcons are being careful with Okudah's return-to-play plan. There's a realm (like last week) where Okudah doesn't start but sees an increase in playing time in rotation.

Either way, the expectation should be to see more of Okudah in Week 4.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah #1 and Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell #24 during practice at Harrow Boarding School in Harrow, England on Friday, September 29, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

2. Will CP finally make his 2023 debut?

Like Okudah, the Falcons are not trying to rush Cordarrelle Patterson back too soon. The veteran offensive weapon has been working through a thigh injury since the early days of training camp. Unlike Okudah, Patterson hasn't been given the green light just yet and has missed all three of the Falcons' games to start the season.

After practice Friday, Arthur Smith officially listed Patterson as questionable for Sunday's game at Wembley. If he does play, the Falcons would likely work him back in in the same way they did Okudah, if not slower considering the nature of Patterson's injury and his decade in the league. Asked about Patterson by a rather large contingency of British media after practice Friday, Smith said when Patterson does come back he'll provide the Falcons with another wrinkle offensively.

Will we see a glimpse of that wrinkle against Jacksonville? Check back in when the Falcons release their inactives list 90 minutes prior to the start of Sunday's game.

3. A clash between two "desperate" teams

The Falcons and Jaguars are looking for redemption in London. Both teams are coming off a significant Week 3 loss, the Falcons a 20-6 loss to Detroit and the Jaguars a 37-17 loss to the Texans. Neither team performed at the level they wanted to, or need to moving forward.

So, Sunday's game could really boil down to one thing: Who wants it more?

And that's where this idea of desperation comes into play. That's the word Smith used to describe how he wants this Falcons team to come into Sunday's matchup. He wants this team hungry, desperate for a win. He wants this team hungry, desperate for production. This is a string I am going to pull on this weekend, but it only matters if the Falcons really are the most desperate team at Wembley this Sunday.

4. Getting back on track offensively

This has been a theme of the last week's line of questioning from media to players and coaches. How do the Falcons find and sustain an offensively rhythm? Well, it starts with creating positive yardage on early downs. The Falcons were working with too many second- and third-and-longs last Sunday. This Sunday, they'll look to rectify that stat since it was a recipe that ultimately pushed Atlanta towards an offensive shutout in Detroit.

Talking to players this week, this is something they're really taking to heart. They want to put together an offensive performance that is as close to complete as complete can get. And as a reminder: Complete does not equal perfection, but it should equal production, which is something the Falcons offense missed in Week 3.

And I'll add this, too: The Falcons are looking for redemption in a number of ways but maybe no more than in their ability to run the ball. That was a sticking point for the Falcons in Detroit, because even when nothing else has worked offensively in the past, running the ball always did. It's become the foundation of Atlanta's offense. It was taken away last Sunday. So, how do the Falcons re-establish their own identity as a dominant rushing team? That's the question they'll look to answer in London.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London #5 during practice at Harrow Boarding School in Harrow, England on Friday, September 29, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

5. How to watch

Normally this final point is a bit deeper than just listing the broadcast information for you. But considering how many questions I've personally received the last few days regarding how to watch this game, I thought I would use the last section of this story to make sure you had that information.

The Jaguars are set to host the Falcons at 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday. The game will be aired locally on WSB-TV (Channel 2) in Atlanta, but there will be an animated Toy Story themed simulcast that will air on ESPN+ and Disney+. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty intrigued by what this broadcast will ultimately look like. Maybe I'll write my notebook Monday off of the Toy Story simulcast instead of the game itself.

I joke, but only if you don't think that's a fantastic idea.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in London for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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