After watching last night’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, it became painfully obvious that the Falcons remains one of the most overrated and overvalued teams in the NFL. The metrics from the line of scrimmage clearly establish how pedestrian the Falcons are, especially on defense:
- The Falcons are allowing 26.0 points per game on 4.0 yards per rush play, 7.7 yards per pass attempt and 393 total yards (6.3 yards per play);
- Overall, Atlanta is 0.5 yards per rush play, 1.2 yards per pass attempt and 0.9 yards per play worse than average defensively, which is indicative of a .500 team at best;
- What is even more alarming is the fact that the Falcons are yielding 27.0 points per game at home this season, including giving up 334 passing yards on 7.8 yards per pass attempt and 434 total yards on 6.4 yards per play.
- Atlanta has become a one-dimensional offense without the services of running back Steven Jackson. Indeed, the Falcons are averaging a mere 82 rushing yards per game this season, including 47 rushing yards per game at the Georgia Dome (3.0 yards per carry);
- Despite not having a ground attack, quarterback Matt Ryan is averaging 398 passing yards per game on 7.3 yards per pass attempt, which is 0.9 yards per pass play better than average;
- Overall, the Falcons are 0.7 yards per play better than average offensively (6.4 yards per play to teams that combine to allow 5.7 yards per play).
What always makes me nervous fading the Falcons is the fact that they have consistently out-performed their metrics for the past two years. Last year’s campaign was defined by extreme positive variance for Mike Smith’s squad as the Falcons were the beneficiaries of a very high turnover ratio so regression is not surprising in 2013. I will be looking for every opportunity to fade Atlanta this season, although I do not recommend betting against Matt Ryan and/or coach Smith at home following a loss.