The Buffalo Bills welcomed the Washington Football Team into their stadium and dismantled them 43-21 behind a strong showing from their defense. That’s not to take away from their offense at all. The Bills are a Super Bowl contender for a reason, and they showed it Sunday. However, what made that possible was the defense coming in and punching Taylor Heinicke and that WFT offense in the mouth early and often. No, they did not get to Heinicke. Heinicke had a clean pocket to throw from for 19 of his 24 throws. However, he showed inexperience as he threw two interceptions on the day, both on late throws. The Atlanta Falcons defense must cause turnovers this game if they want to beat the Washington Football Team.
The Falcons Defense Has to Cause Turnovers to Beat Washington
Through the Air
Taylor Heinicke’s story is an amazing one. The fourth-string quarterback is an outlier nowadays, especially with a limited 53-man roster. But Dwayne Haskins was busy being Dwayne Haskins, while Alex Smith and Kyle Allen were physically unable to perform. Thus, on January 9th, 2021, the legend of Taylor Heinicke was born. There were shots on SportsCenter all week of Chase Young pointing to Heinicke’s name after his gutsy performance against the eventual Super Bowl champion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After losing starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington fans look to Heinicke again to save their season.
So far, it is not going great for the former Old Dominion Monarch. Heinicke has started the year with five touchdowns to counteract his three interceptions. Heinicke’s PFF grade is below 60 in the air and 55 overall. It has been a horrible start to the year, despite an offensive line graded 70.0 or higher in four out of the five linemen spots. Atlanta fans know a quarterback that would kill for that kind of protection.
He has Terry McLaurin, Dyami Brown, Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson, and J.D. McKissick. Those weapons are than enough weapons to be a force in this league. Heinicke simply does not know how to get out of his way.
Both A.J. Terrell and Kendall Sheffield return to the lineup this week. After Isaiah Oliver posted a 90.0+ PFF grade for his performance against the New York Giants, expect the windows for Heinicke to throw to be tighter and mistakes to ensue because of it.
Prediction: 21-20, Atlanta Falcons
The Washington Football Team defense has not shown up all season as they rank in the bottom half of many power rankings throughout the league. That’s a disappointing mark for a Ron Rivera defense that boasts a ton of talent on all three levels. However, they can not seem to gel enough to be the defense everyone expects them to be. The defensive line is a scary mountain to climb as the Falcons have to look Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and the almighty Chase Young square in the eyes on every snap. And if the front four can get home and drop seven in coverage, Matt Ryan will have a very long day. Ask the Philadelphia Eagles.
There is a glimpse of hope. Taylor Heinicke. He’s not ready for the big stage yet. He may have the entire city of Washington behind him. He may be going up against a defense that allows a 70+ completion percentage. But will he capitalize on that? History tells us no. The Falcons will go three and out on a couple of drives, probably early. But expect Taylor Heinicke to, and this is meant literally, give the game away with a couple of turnovers in crucial spots in the game. Matt Ryan will have a short field and a tired defense to beat. Those factors will lead to the Falcons hanging on late to defeat the Washington Football Team.
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