Game Scout: Falcons at Bills

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Atlanta Falcons (2-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-7)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at Rogers Centre, Toronto - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber, Kris Budden
*Keys to the game: The Bills come out of their bye week healthier than they have been since training camp. They lose a lot of their home-field advantage playing in in Toronto rather than the frigid outdoor conditions of Ralph Wilson Stadium, but Buffalo's defense should have a significant upper hand. The Bills are tied for the league lead in sacks with 37, while the Falcons' offensive line is a mess in run and pass blocking. QB Matt Ryan hasn't shown the confidence in his young receivers who have been thrust into significant playing time to cut it lose and threaten defenses who are attacking the line with little abandon. Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel is coming off one of his best games, but still has been highly inconsistent. He should receive a boost with RB C.J. Spiller closer to full strength and the return of WRs Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. Atlanta's defense ranks 24th against the pass, 28th against the run, 27th in total yards allowed and 29th in scoring average.
*Matchup to watch - Falcons C Joe Hawley and RG Garrett Reynolds vs. Bills defensive line: Peter Konz went from starting center to starting right guard to out of the lineup. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Hawley and Reynolds aren't a significant upgrade and Reynolds was dominated by whoever the Saints put on him. Bills DTs Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams are athletic and can penetrate the backfield, and Buffalo's scheme allows for 3-4, 4-3 and other looks that keep defensive linemen guessing.
*Player spotlight - Falcons WR Darius Johnson: The rookie lacks blazing speed but enjoyed a bit of a break-through first half against New Orleans last week. That crumbled a bit when he dropped a key third-down pick and was largely ineffective in the second half.
*Fast facts: The Falcons missed 14 tackles against New Orleans, according to the coaches' film review. ... The Bills are 1-4 in their annual regular-season game played in Toronto.
Atlanta gets a break playing in a dome in Toronto rather than outdoors northern New York. The Falcons' biggest concern, however, is the Bills' underrated defense, which will dominate Atlanta's offensive line and add to its season total of 16 interceptions.
*Our pick: Bills 23-19

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