Atlanta comes into Sunday's contest with the third-highest scoring offense in the NFL, led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan. The Falcons signal-caller will get a great opportunity to add to his cause this week against a Redskins defense that has been paltry against the pass.
Hoping to fix that sloppy defensive play is a Washington squad coming off its own close victory against Tampa Bay last week. The Redskins have made a habit of jumping out ahead early and allowing teams to get back in the game, a fault they will need to break out of if they hope to have any chance at victory.
For both sides, this is a game that has potential playoff implications. With that in mind, here is a look at everything you need to know about this Week 5 contest.
When: Sunday, Oct. 7, 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: FedEx Field in Landover, MD
Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Falcons -3 (Bovada)
Though Washington is playing at home and has a high-powered offense, it seems inexplicable that Atlanta is favored by just a field goal.
Through four games, the Redskins have given up 30.8 points per game, a figure spurred by the team's whopping 326.3 passing yards allowed per contest, which is 31st in the NFL.
Considering the Falcons boast one of the league's best offenses, it stands to reason the team would put a ton of points on the board.
To put it another way, Atlanta is simply better than Washington at the moment. Look for the Falcons to easily cover the surprisingly small spread.
Over/Under: 51.5 (Bovada)
There is hardly a number out there that would make me even think about taking the under in this game.
While it's possible that the Falcons defense stops Robert Griffin III and the Redskins' scintillating offensive attack, it's more likely a shootout is oncoming this Sunday.
The Falcons struggled mightily against the Carolina Panthers' similarly styled offense, giving up 199 yards rushing. It stands to reason they would do the same this week.
It's a relatively risky play, but I'm rolling with the over on this one.
Falcons Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
DT Jonathan Babineaux, Groin, Probable
WR Julio Jones, Hand, Probable
C Todd McClure, Pectoral, Questionable
S William Moore, Hip, Questionable
LB Stephen Nicholas, Thigh, Probable
CB Christopher Owens, Head, Probable
TE Michael Palmer, Shoulder, Out
RB Lousaka Polite, Hamstring, Questionable
RB Antone Smith, Hamstring, Probable
Redskins Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
WR Brandon Banks, Hip, Probable
WR Pierre Garcon, Foot, Probable
CB Cedric Griffin, Hamstring, Out
CB DeAngelo Hall, Illness, Probable
S Brandon Meriweather, Knee, Out
WR Aldrick Robinson, Head, Probable
RB Evan Royster, Knee, Questionable
T Trent Williams, Knee, Probable
Big Fantasy Plays
Falcons: WR Roddy White
While much of the hype coming into 2012 was about a potential breakout season for Julio Jones, it has been White who has been Atlanta's top receiver.
Through a quarter of the season, White is tied for sixth in the NFL in receptions with 27, and his 413 yards make him fourth best in the league.
Facing off against an anemic Washington secondary with Jones' hand still not fully healed should mean big things for the former UAB star on Sunday.
White is an obvious every-week start regardless, but don't be shocked if he wins more than one fantasy matchup in Week 5.
Redskins: RB Alfred Morris
With a surprisingly fantastic start to his rookie season, Morris is slowly breaking the old fantasy adage "never trust a Mike Shanahan running back."
The sixth-round pick was expected to be a part of a three-man rotation at the position coming into the year, but quickly established himself as a dominant force. Outside of Griffin, Morris is the only ball-carrier with more than 10 carries thus far for the Redskins.
What's more, he's been unbelievably effective. Morris has gained 376 yards (fifth best in the NFL) and is averaging a solid 4.6 yards per carry.
Shanahan should look to get his running back a heavy workload on Sunday against a Falcons defense that ranks 29th in the NFL against the run.
From barely drafted to likely one of the 10 best fantasy running backs. Not a bad rookie season, if you ask me.
Key to Falcons Win: Air It Out
There is no reason to do anything particularly fancy against this Redskins defense or to switch from a working strategy.
The Falcons have almost a never-ending stable of offensive talent that should give Washington fits from start to finish, and head coach Mike Smith would be wise to take advantage.
Ryan has been sensational this season, throwing for 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing a career-high 69.4 percent of his passes. That rate is nearly seven percent higher than his previous best, which means he's due for a regression or the 27-year-old signal-caller finally took the leap.
For now, my money is on the latter.
Meanwhile, if the Falcons attempt to pound the run early, the game could be closer than advertised. Washington has the 10th-ranked run defense in football, and Michael Turner's effectiveness in 2012 has been inconsistent at best.
By sticking to what has brought them to Week 5 undefeated, the Falcons should come away victorious.
Key to Redskins Win: Chew the Clock
If Griffin and the Washington offense attempt to turn this game into a track meet, the defense will crumble under the pressure.
Despite being a different style than we have seen this season, it would be best for Shanahan to slow the game down and pound the ball with Morris and run the read option with Griffin.
Successfully establishing a run attack will not only keep Ryan and the high-powered Falcons passing offense off the field, but open up the play-action pass for some shots down the field.
For the Redskins to have any chance at pulling off the upset, they will have to win the time of possession battle by at least 10 minutes.
This contest will likely be one of the most fun games to watch in Week 5. With top-notch offenses going up and down the field with ease, fantasy owners will undoubtedly be pleased.
Nonetheless, Atlanta has more talent and is playing at a higher level right now. Look for the Redskins to fall to 0-2 at home in a two-score game.
Score Prediction: Falcons 34, Redskins 24
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