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Analysis: Falcons Offense Comes Limping Into The Playoffs

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ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at Georgia Dome on November 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at Georgia Dome on November 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

While I'm confident the Green Bay Packers offense can move the ball (at least through the air) against the Falcons, I'm concerned that the Falcons offense will be able to keep pace. Football Outsiders ranked them as having the 10th best offense this season, and QB Matt Ryan is going to the Pro Bowl, along with WR Roddy White. So I'm looking back at their last few games of the season to see how they've been playing.

Here's how their offense has played over the past five weeks, which includes all their games since they played the Packers at the end of November:

Opponent Total Yards Ryan's QB Rating Team Yards Per Carry Points Scored Turnovers Per Game
2010 Average 341 91.0 3.8 26 1.06
Buccaneers 290 62.8 3.1 28 2
Panthers 327 76.5 3.5 31 1
Seahawks 266 87.1 2.6 34 1
Saints 215 77.9 3.4 14 2
Panthers 352 110.9 3.1 31 1

This really surprises me. Only the Panthers and Saints have defenses that are above average according to Football Outsiders. And the Panthers barely sneak in at No. 16. The Saints are listed at No. 9, but I just watched the Seahawks and RB Marshawn Lynch demolish them last weekend. And the Falcons were still lousy against the Saints. 

One thing that stands out is that while Ryan and RB Michael Turner have struggled in their last five games, they are still putting a lot of points on the board. That's because their defense and special teams have scored four touchdowns over the past five games. Two of them have been scored by Pro Bowl KR Eric Weems, which is why he was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December. 

Maybe this analysis is incomplete because I'm not including that November game against the Packers, when Ryan completed 86% of his passes, and Turner ran for 110 yards. But that was arguably the Packers defense worst game since then. They even held the Patriots offense to 249 total yards in their December matchup. I'm feeling a lot more confident about this game after seeing those stats.