5 key things to know about Chargers’ Week 9 opponent: Falcons

Fresh off their bye week, the Chargers travel to meet with the Falcons on Nov. 6 at 11:00 am PT.

To get you prepped for the Week 9 bout, here are five key things to know about Los Angeles’ opponent ahead of the matchup.

New guy under center

The Falcons signed Marcus Mariota this offseason after trading away Matt Ryan to the Colts. Up to this point in the season, Mariota has been serviceable for Atlanta. Mariota has thrown for 1,432 yards, ten touchdowns and six interceptions with a passer rating of 92.7. But in the last three games, he’s had a passer rating of over 100. While he’s passed the ball well in recent weeks, Mariota has made his money running in the ball. He has 55 carries for 280 yards and three scores this season.

Cordarrelle could be back

The Falcons designated Cordarrelle Patterson to return to practice after he was placed on the injured reserve after Week 4. Before he went on the IR, Patterson was fourth in the NFL in rushing (340 yards). Patterson had a career year in 2021, leading Atlanta in rushing (618 yards), in touchdowns (11) and finishing third in receiving (548 yards). The 10-year veteran brings a unique skill set as he spent the first eight years as a wide receiver.

One-two punch

Even though the Falcons have missed their best guy in the backfield, they still got plenty of production on the ground with rookie Tyler Allgeier and second-year Caleb Huntley. Allgeier has 324 rushing yards, 3.9 yards per attempt and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Huntley is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and has forced 13 missed tackles. Allgeier and Huntley establishing themselves as productive backs could also allow the Falcons to move Patterson around more if he returns.

Imposing presences along the interior

The Falcons’ defensive line has some studs up front with Grady Jarrett and emerging star Ta’Quon Graham. Jarrett has 25 pressures, 15 hurries and five sacks. Graham, on the other hand, has 12 pressures and the second-most quarterback hits (six). But along with their high-level ability to get after the passer, the two are forces against the run.

Suspect secondary

The Falcons could be heading into this week without some key pieces in the defensive backfield, starting cornerbacks Casey Hayward and A.J. Terrell. Hayward is on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Terrell remained out of practice on Wednesday or Thursday with a hamstring injury. If Terrell is out, Atlanta will field second-year Darren Hall and recently acquired via trade from the Chiefs, Rashad Fenton. Heading into Week 9, the Falcons have one of the league’s worst passing defenses, allowing the most yards per game (306.9), the second-most yards per attempt (7.7) and the third-most touchdowns (14).

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire