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What to Watch For in Week 16


Quarterback Shuffle

Matt Ryan returned for the Falcons after missing roughly three games. Ryan didn't return to immediate success, but he did lead the Birds on late drive throwing a game-winning touchdown to Tony Gonzalez.

The Bills are in the midst of quarterback injuries.

Since a Week 6 concussion to Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick has started every game for the Bills.

Edwards replaced Fitzpatrick late last week, but left the game after four plays and is expected to be out for the season and placed on injured reserve. With Edwards out and Fitzpatrick banged up fans might see third-stringer Brian Brohm.

Brohm was acquired from the Packers and has yet to throw a pass this season for the Bills. Quarterback play has been anything but consistent for the Buffalo this year. In nine games Fitzpatrick has thrown 10 interceptions and only six touchdowns, while Edwards has thrown seven interceptions and six touchdowns.

Watch for Ryan's steady play to restore stability to the Falcons offense while the defense tries to continue making big plays.

Seven and Six

Seven is the number of games the Bills have had determined by seven or less points. The toughest part for Buffalo is four of those games were losses.

The Bills are accustomed to playing in close games which have drastically affected the season.

Six is the number of games the Falcons have lost by seven or less points this season.

For the Falcons four of those losses have been by three points and have made a major difference in the NFC South. Three of the six losses by seven or less points have been inside the division

Stellar Secondaries

The Bills defense ranks third in pass yards allowed, giving 184.4 yards per game. The secondary is leading the NFL with 26 interceptions and is second in the league giving up just 11 touchdowns. The group is led by rookie free safety Jairus Byrd who has nine interceptions. He is followed by George Wilson with four. The other impressive stat is 10 other players have one or more interceptions.

The Falcons defense is coming off one of its best games this season shutting down the Jets No. 1 ranked running attack and intercepting Mark Sanchez three times. The Falcons defense held the Jets scoreless in the second half and held the Jets to 99 yards on the ground.

3rd Efficiency

For the Falcons there was no shortage of third downs last week with 18, the problem is they only converted seven and scored 10 points. The week before the Falcons were able to convert 8 of 12 third downs and put up 23 points.

Third downs have hurt the Bills offense. In the last four games the Bills have not converted more than 30 percent of their third downs and struggled. They converted just 1of 11 against the Jets three weeks ago.

Watch for third down conversions to tell Sundays story.


FALCONCAST:J. Mike and Matt break down Sunday's game * GAME CENTER:Stats and more in the Game Center * MULTIMEDIA:Video interviews and more to get you ready for Sunday * QUOTABLE:Locker Room | Smith Monday | Smith Wednesday * INJURY REPORT:Falcons injury news presented by Piedmont Healthcare * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:Falcons news and commentary from the editor * TIME MACHINE:Falcons have provided share of holiday memories * NOTES AND NUMBERS:Some key figures and notes for Falcons-Bills * EXPERT'S TAKE:Ira Kaufman talks about the Falcons, NFL standings * WHAT TO WATCH:Some key factors for Sunday's game to keep an eye on * GAME INFORMATION:Important fan information for the final home game of 2009 * PREVIEW PACK:Stats and other preview information from the communications staff (PDF)

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