Atlanta Falcons (4-4, 4-4 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2, 7-1), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Falcons Stats and Trends
The Falcons are 4-1 toward overs in their last five games.
Atlanta has played in six straight one-score games after getting blown out by the Buccaneers and Eagles to open the season.
The Falcons finished with just 25/34 rushing for an abysmal 1.4 YPC against the Saints, with Mike Davis accounting for nine of those carries for 13 yards. He now has fewer than three FP in two of his three games since their bye. Cordarrelle Patterson also struggled on the ground (9/10 rushing), but he made up for it by catching all six of his targets for 126 yards. He’s now posted 14+ FP in seven straight games with his dual-threat role. The Cowboys got gashed by the Broncos last week, with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon combining for 38/191/1 rushing.
Matt Ryan played like the former league MVP last week, completing 23/30 passes for 343 yards (11.4 YPA) and two touchdowns for 28.5 FP against a formidable Saints’ defense. Ryan has posted 280+ yards, multiple TD passes, and 19+ FP in four of his last five games. The Cowboys had limited QBs to fewer than 17 FP in three straight games until Teddy Bridgewater posted 21.9 FP last week.
Kyle Pitts finished with a disappointing 3/62 receiving on seven targets last week, and his day could’ve been much better if not for a dropped pass on a downfield target on the first drive of the game. Pitts has managed just 5/75 receiving on 13 targets in his first two games without Calvin Ridley, and he’s seen some attention from opponent’s top CBs. He could see some of Trevon Diggs this week, who got burned by Tim Patrick for a 44-yard touchdown last week.
Russell Gage went from not seeing a target in Week 8 to leading the team with eight targets (27% share) in Week 9, which he turned into 7/64 receiving on 30 routes. After topping out at 32 yards in a game in the first eight weeks of the season, Olamide Zaccheaus came out of nowhere to post 3/58/2 receiving on three targets and 19 routes against the Saints. Tajae Sharpe matched Gage for the most routes with 30, but he caught his only target for 12 yards. The Cowboys are giving up the ninth-most FPG (39.3) to WRs this season.
Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends
The Cowboys failed to cover last week for the first time this season.
Dallas is 4-1 toward overs in its last five games as a favorite.
Dak Prescott played like a quarterback who hadn’t seen much action in the last three weeks because of a nagging calf injury. He completed 19/39 passes for 232 yards, two TDs, and one INT in an ugly loss to the Broncos in Week 9. Nearly all of Dak’s fantasy production came on two late drives in the final minutes of the game with the Cowboys trailing 30-0 at the time. He completed just 48.7% of his passes while averaging 5.8 YPA, which were well below his previous season-lows of 63.6% (Week 4) and 7.1 YPA (Week 2). He gets a bounce-back spot against a Falcons’ defense that’s giving up the fourth-most FPG (21.4) to QBs.
CeeDee Lamb and Dak weren’t on the same page last week with the tandem just missing out on a couple of downfield throws. He finished with just 2/23 receiving on nine targets, and his 22.2% catch rate was a career-low in his 13 games with Prescott in the lineup. The Falcons are giving up the eighth-fewest receiving yards per game (146.6) to WRs this season.
Amari Cooper had his third game with five FP last week, posting a miserable 2/37 receiving on five targets. Coop had hung 55+ receiving yards in four straight games before last week’s dud. The Falcons are giving up the second-most receiving TDs per game (1.4) to WRs with Marquez Callaway and Kenny Stills each scoring last week.
Dalton Schultz reached 50+ receiving yards for the fourth time in five games last week, but he hasn’t found the end zone in four games and he hasn’t reached double-digit FP in his first two games out of their bye. He matched Cedrick Wilson for the team-high in routes (39) last week in his first game without Blake Jarwin (hip, IR). Adam Trautman posted 4/47 receiving on nine targets in this matchup last week.
Ezekiel Elliott banged up his right knee in Dallas’ loss to the Broncos in Week 9, but the issue must not be too serious since HC Mike McCarthy was feeding him touches on the final two drives of the game with the Cowboys trailing 30-0. Zeke still managed to reach double-digit FP for the seventh consecutive game with 10/51 rushing and 3/25 receiving with a two-point conversion mixed in. He did play a season-low 53% of the snaps even with his action late in the game, but Tony Pollard didn’t see a huge boost with just 5/43 scrimmage on a 39% snap share. Alvin Kamara (17/104/1 scrimmage) and Mark Ingram (14/64 scrimmage) each came through in this matchup last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.4 (12th)
Plays per game: 66.5 (18th)
Pass: 64.0% (8th) | Run: 36.0% (25th)
Pace: 26.1 (4th)
Plays per game: 71.1 (6th)
Pass: 58.4% (24th) | Run: 41.6% (9th)
Overall, this is the second-best game on the slate in adjusted pace / play between these two quick, high volume attacks. After a slow start, the Falcons are rolling offensively and have now scored 27 or more points in four of their last 5 games. If Atlanta can stay hot, this game has a chance to go to the moon because you know Dallas is going to come out and try to put their flop against Denver behind them in a hurry. Before last week, the Cowboys put up a whopping 34.2 points per game in Dak Prescott's first six starts, which, for reference, would easily lead the league over the Bucs’ (32.5). As a result, five of Dallas’ 7 games with Dak combined to go over 60 total points and this game certainly has the makings of another shootout.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The most significant storyline from this matchup will be from sophomore corner phenoms containing/eliminating the WR2 threats on both rosters. Amari Cooper will face the most daunting task in coverage from A.J. Terrell. While his rookie season did not go down as planned, Terrell has more than made up for it this season. He’s shutting down his coverage to the fewest YPCS (0.30), second-fewest FP/CS (0.11), 10th-fewest AY/CS (0.15), and the eighth-lowest TPR (65.2).
For Russell Gage, he’ll have more than a handful with Trevon Diggs in coverage. It’s certainly true that Diggs has taken some liberties in order to collect his league-leading seven INTs. It’s an approach that has resulted in seven receptions of at least 32 yards. But removing those seven receptions from his numbers, Diggs is only permitting 0.76 YPCS and 0.15 FP/CS over his other 315 snaps in coverage. Both values would rank within the top-10 among outside CBs.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Though he’s starting to get a little bit more national recognition, I’m still amazed by how well Matt Ryan is playing given his most productive receiver is a former WR-turned RB-turned hybrid player. He’s kicking ass.
Matt Ryan over the last 5 weeks:— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) November 10, 2021
-1st in QBR
-2nd in CPOE
-3rd in 1st down rate
MATTY ICE HIVE WE EATIN https://t.co/C2B4QDQskJ
Here’s Jake Tribbey from Week 10 Streamers on Matty Ice:
“Ryan is currently the QB16 by FPG but he draws an outstanding matchup in Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have allowed the 9th-most passing FPG to opposing QBs (17.6) and the 8th-most passing yards per game (270.5).
More importantly, this game boasts the highest total of Week 10, at 55.0. In his career, Ryan has averaged 20.6 FPG when playing in games with a total of 50.5 or more. 20.6 FPG would be good for QB10 this season, just behind Patrick Mahomes and just ahead of Kirk Cousins. With the Falcons as 9.5-point underdogs, Ryan should need to throw as much as any QB this week, and when combined with a favorable matchup in a great scoring environment, it’s easy to see why he’s the top streaming option at QB.”
The question is if this can continue against a Dallas team that is obviously licking its wounds following an embarrassing loss to the Broncos last week. At home, Dallas needs a signature performance to get back on track. We’ll see if that’s possible, and they’re now down their top pass rusher with Randy Gregory suffering a significant calf injury.
Randy Gregory’s injury likely means rookie LB Micah Parsons will be rushing the passer more against the Falcons.— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 11, 2021
When asked about this, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy: “The game starts at noon on Sunday. Don’t be late.” https://t.co/H8k1325zlp
One thing I do like about this Atlanta passing game — with Calvin Ridley taking time off for his mental health — is that we know where the ball is going. It’s going to RB Cordarrelle Patterson and TE Kyle Pitts, with some Russell Gage sprinkled in.
Here’s Graham from Stat-Pack:
Cordarrelle Patterson has now finished as the RB20 or better in seven-straight games and has four top-12 scores in this span.
In the three games that Cordarrelle Patterson has played without Calvin Ridley, he’s now tallied 7/60, 5/37/1, and 6/126 through the air.
Kyle Pitts has been a roller coaster this season and has three top-8 finishes mixed in with five weeks where he’s been TE17 or worse.
The good news is that Pitts’ target share remains consistent: He’s seen at least 20% of the Falcons’ targets in five-straight games.
Pitts also leads all TEs in targets of 10 or more air yards (30) followed by Kelce (28), Andrews (27), Waller (26), and Gesicki (24).
I am interested to see how the Cowboys choose to defend Pitts — will they put top CB Trevon Diggs on him? While Diggs has made a name for himself with interceptions… everything else hasn’t been too hot.
#Ravens CB Anthony Averett has given up the most yards in coverage this year, with 452.— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) November 10, 2021
2. #Cowboys Trevon Diggs (427)
3. #Cowboys Anthony Brown (408)
Diggs is a gambler, and that has its benefits, but he’s also giving up over 20 yards per reception this season. Pitts or Gage could well make a big play on him. Gage is in the WR3 conversation.
The Cowboys’ offense — including QB Dak Prescott — laid an egg against the Broncos last week, though barring a trend developing, I’m more inclined to chalk it up to a “burn the tape” kind of scenario.
However, I was very willing to say that the Cowboys’ OL situation — with LT Tyron Smith dealing with a bone spur in his ankle — was a huge factor in Prescott’s play. And I think it was! They kicked RT Terence Steele to the left side, and the Broncos took advantage of that. While Prescott has had some very bad games without Smith in there in his career, his numbers are likely better than you think in those situations:
Went back and looked at Dak Prescott's stats in his 15 games without Tyron Smith. Cowboys are 9-6 in those games. Dak is 352 of 531 passing for 4,282 yards, 23 TDs, 10 INTs, 97.5 passer rating.— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 8, 2021
Averages out to 23 of 35 passing for 285 yards, 1.5 TDs, 0.6 INTs per game.
Prescott should have more time to throw this week — the Falcons’ pressure rate of 31.5% of dropbacks is the worst in the NFL (SIS), and it’s still unclear if Atlanta EDGE Dante Fowler (knee) will return from IR this week.
And when Prescott has time to throw, the return of Michael Gallup — who is not yet a fantasy option — will give him someone else to throw to.
Excited, awesome, juice, energy and play-making among ways Kellen Moore discusses Michael Gallup's return from calf strain.— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) November 8, 2021
More competition in a deep WR room. https://t.co/xAJCdbjc2q
Prescott will also have a healthier CeeDee Lamb (ankle) this week — Lamb admitted on Wednesday that his mild sprain from last week’s practice bothered him at gametime.
Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb’s ankle injury limited him against Denver. He wasn’t himself. Lamb said he’s no longer feeling any restrictions. “I’m much better than last week.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 10, 2021
Cowboy RB Ezekiel Elliott has been dealing with a knee issue for a couple of weeks, but it’s something he can play through, per Zeke and coach Mike McCarthy. It’s being described as a “contusion.”
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott said his right knee issue is "something I've been dealing with the past couple weeks. A guy landed on it." He received sideline treatment but played through it.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 7, 2021