The Falcons head back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a week four matchup with the Buffalo Bills at 1pm EST.
The Bills enter the 2017 season trying to recover from a disappointing 7-9 season that lead to head coach Rex Ryan’s dismissal. The Bills have a heck of a run game, led by LeSean McCoy, that has been at the top of the NFL for back to back seasons. This is a kind of matchup that could challenge the speedy Falcons defense.
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Bills’ 2016 Rankings
2016 Record: 7-9 [3rd in AFC East]
Point Differential: +21 [14th]
Turnover Differential: +6 [T-7th]
Yards per game: 354.1 [16th]
Points per game: 24.9 
Passing yards per game: 189.8 [30th]
Rushing yards per game: 164.4 [1st]
Yards allowed per game: 357 [19th]
Points allowed per game: 23.6 [16th]
Passing yards per game: 223.9 [6th]
Rushing yards per game: 133.1 [29th]
Bills’ Important Additions
FB Patrick DiMarco [UFA – ATL]
CB Tre’Davious White [Drafted LSU – 1st Round]
WR Zay Jones [Drafted ECU – 2nd Round]
LB Gerald Hodges [UFA – SF]
CB Micah Hyde [UFA – GB]
CB Shareece Wright [UFA – BAL]
QB Nathan Peterman [Drafted PITT – 5th Round]
QB T.J. Yates [UFA – MIA]
Bills’ Important Departures
CB Stephon Gilmore [UFA – NE]
LB Zach Brown [UFA – WAS]
WR Robert Woods [UFA – LAR]
RB Mike Gillislee [RFA – NE]
QB E.J. Manuel [UFA – OAK]
Bills’ Biggest Threat
LeSean McCoy is the Bills most consistent threat. Sitting at 8,954 rushing yards for his career, he’s likely to hit the 10,000 mark 3/4 of the way through the season. And he’s doing this while recording the highest yards per run average of his career.
There is the chance that he begins his decline since he’s arrived at the dreaded age of twenty-eight (it’s not good for running backs). But it doesn’t mean he won’t have some energy for an early season matchup.
Falcons’ Offense Versus Bills’ Defense
The Bills’ defense was the reverse of their offense last season. But they’ve lost starting corner Stephon Gilmore to the New England Patriots in the off season, and will be breaking in Tre’Davious White, first round pick out of LSU. Expect some decline in secondary play.
With that said, the Bill’s run defense didn’t do much to improve on its second to last ranking. The Falcons, with a balanced attack, should wear out a solid front seven.
Falcons’ Defense Versus Bills’ Offense
As I’ve said, the Bills running game is really, really good, but they’ve lost some depth behind McCoy. Expect the Bills to get some rushing yards on this defense.
What the Falcons will do is shut down the Buffalo passing game. Sammy Watkins has number one receiver potential, but has yet to catch more than sixty five receptions in his three seasons. Rookie Zay Jones is presumed to start opposite Watkins. Falcons’ corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford should be able to neutralize any threats through the air.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bills continue to dominate on the ground, but the Falcons should have more than enough offensive firepower to combat it.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman should be given the ball early with passes sprinkled in regardless of the down. By keeping the Bills off balanced, the Falcons should open run lanes against a team that has trouble stopping the run.
Falcons 48 – Bills 24
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