This Sunday the Falcons travel to Dallas for their final NFC East match up of the year. Looking to come out with a .500 record against the NFC East, this version of the Falcons is drastically different than the team that suited up Week One against the Eagles. Not as much in terms of personnel, but in terms of their on the field product.
As we all know the Falcons started the season 0-2 and have fought and climbed their way back to .500 twice now, which is where they currently stand. A win in Dallas would put the Falcons at 5-4, a record above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2017 season.
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During the Matt Ryan era, the Falcons and Cowboys have faced off six times, splitting those games right down the middle with three wins apiece. The Cowboys have walked away with the win the last two match ups including last season's heartbreaker with Greg Zuerlein connecting on a game winning 46-yard field goal.
There seems to be a growing sense of optimism heading into this game, however. The narrative around these Falcons has shifted from a team that drops close games, like they did much of last season, to a team that has shown the ability to close out. Three of their four wins on the year have come in the form of game winning field goals where the offense has had limited time to drive the field and put themselves in a position to win.
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints during Week 9 of 2021.
There is no getting around the fact that Dallas is a strong team. Up until last week they were only one win back of the Packers and Cardinals for top of the NFC. However, after looking flat against the Broncos last week the Cowboys showed their mortality on the field. You can perhaps chalk that up to Dak Prescott shaking off the rust after being out with a calf injury, or some miscommunication with his receivers.
While the Cowboys looked like a team that can be beaten, the Falcons are coming off of their biggest win of the season against their rival Saints in New Orleans. At one point in the fourth quarter the Falcons were up 24-6, and though that lead slipped through their hands leading to a game winning Younghoe Koo field goal, they still showed the ability to put up points in bunches against a top-10 defense. Cordarrelle Patterson exploded for 126-yards, the most he's had in a game since his rookie season. While Matt Ryan had a borderline herculean effort throwing for 343-yards and pair of touchdowns, while running in an additional touchdown of his own. A performance good for NFC offensive player of the week.
On the other side of the ball Falcons corner back A.J. Terrell is putting the league on notice this season. He leads the league in fewest yards allowed and fewest yards per catch, while only allowing opposing quarterbacks to convert 46.4% of their passes thrown his way, the second lowest completion percentage in the league. A fun narrative to keep an eye out for will be when Terrell is tasked with guarding fellow draft classmate CeeDee Lamb on the outside.
With all those narratives to digest let's take a look at who the experts have picked to win on Sunday.
*Picks made as of Nov. 11
|Author | Outlet||Pick||2021 Record|
|Jarrett Bell | USA Today||Cowboys||5-3|
|Matt Bowen | ESPN||Cowboys||3-5|
|Gregg Rosenthal | NFL.com||Cowboys||4-4|
|Gary Davenport | Bleacher Report||Cowboys||3-5|
|Brad Gagnon | Bleacher Report||Cowboys||6-2|
|Vinnie Iyer | Sporting News||Cowboys||4-4|
|Rob Ninkovich | ESPN||Cowboys||3-5|
|Jason La Confora | CBS Sports||Cowboys||4-4|
|Pete Prisco | CBS Sports||Cowboys||4-4|
|Lorenzo Reyes | USA Today||Cowboys||5-3|
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