The Washington Commanders [6-5] host the Atlanta Falcons [5-6] Sunday from FedEx Field in a battle with potential playoff implications.
Washington currently sits a half-game out of the final playoff spot, currently occupied by the Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons are a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South.
Atlanta enters Sunday’s game without one of its top offensive players. Second-year tight end Kyle Pitts was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury after last week’s win over the Chicago Bears.
With Pitts out, who are some of the other Falcons that Washington should be concerned with in Week 12?
We’ve named five Falcons to watch for Sunday’s game.
QB Marcus Mariota
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1). Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Remember when Washington was rumored to have an interest in quarterback Marcus Mariota? Mariota is having a bit of a career resurgence with the Falcons. No, he isn’t putting up eye-popping numbers, but Mariota has the Falcons in every game and operates Arthur Smith’s run-first offense efficiently. Mariota isn’t going to make the killer mistake and his legs can cause plenty of problems for Washington’s defense.
RB Cordarrelle Patterson
Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs after a catch chased by Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown (95). Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Cordarrelle Patterson has had an outstanding NFL career. Last week, he broke the NFL record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns. He was a former first-round pick as a wide receiver and now is a running back. That’s quite the career. And in year 10, he’s as productive as ever. Patterson has rushed for 454 yards and five touchdowns. In last season’s game against Washington, Patterson rushed for 34 yards and caught five passes for 82 yards for three touchdowns. The Commanders know how dangerous Patterson is.
WR Drake London
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London (5). Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Commanders loved Drake London in the draft process, and had he been there at their original pick, he may have been the pick. However, Washington loves Jahan Dotson. As for London, Atlanta isn’t a pass-first offense, but he’s shown his ability throughout the season. London will be a challenge for Washington’s secondary, especially in the red zone.
DT Grady Jarrett
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett (97) celebrates after a sack against the New Orleans Saints. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Grady Jarrett has been one of the NFL’s most underrated defensive tackles since entering the NFL in 2015. Atlanta’s defense hasn’t always been the best but don’t blame Jarrett. He will cause problems for Washington’s interior offensive line, which has had its issues at times this season.
CB A.J. Terrell
Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell (24) in action against the Chicago Bears. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
A.J. Terrell is Atlanta’s top cornerback and one of the better young cornerbacks in the NFC. He should see plenty of Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin on Sunday. McLaurin had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons last season. This should be a good matchup.