Last week, the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line had their best game since they defeated the Carolina Panthers, largely keeping Matt Ryan clean and opening up huge lanes for Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith. That was a huge part of the reason that the Falcons were able to hang 38 points on a quality Washington defense, and it was one of the better performances of the year for Wes Schweitzer and Ryan Schraeder in particular.
The question is, can the Falcons keep it up? This week they’re up against another ferocious front, this one featuring Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi, among others, and is tied for the 11th-best adjusted sack rate per Pro Football Outsiders with 22 sacks in total. Washington has 23 sacks but around the 20th-best sack rate, while Atlanta has 17 and the seventh-worst rate in the NFL. This is a pass rush that can get home, in other words, and they’re middle-of-the-pack in run defense.
But Cleveland’s not good enough overall to win this game without a strong-to-dominant performance from their front seven, and that’s where Atlanta’s line comes into play. They’ve been close to the bottom ten in run blocking and pass blocking effectiveness alike, but they started to right the ship against New York and did stellar work against Washington. The Schweitzer/Garland guard combo is game, Jake Matthews and Alex Mack are excellent, and if Schraeder is righting the ship it seems very possible they’ll hold up for another week.
If so, Atlanta wins this. I’m bullish on their ability to do so, even if I think Ryan’s probably going to get sacked a handful of times because Cleveland has some hosses on that defensive line. It’s a nice change of pace to feel confident about the strength of this line again.