Falcons look to stay on top in NFC South when they face the struggling Jets

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Friday, December 1, 2023

ATLANTA (5-6) at NEW YORK JETS (4-7)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, Fox

OPENING LINE: Falcons by 3, .

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Falcons 3-8; Jets 4-6-1.

SERIES RECORD: Falcons lead 8-6.

LAST MEETING: Falcons beat Jets 27-20 on Oct. 10, 2021, at Atlanta.

LAST WEEK: Falcons beat Saints 24-15; Jets lost to Dolphins 34-13.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Falcons minus-6; Jets minus-1.

FALCONS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Bijan Robinson. The first-round pick is enjoying an increased role as coach Arthur Smith has acknowledged Robinson has shown no sign of rookie fatigue. Robinson had his first two-touchdown game last week against New Orleans, scoring on runs and receptions. He had 16 carries for 91 yards one game after a season-high 22 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. Robinson has thrived in the lead role even though the run-first offense also found room for Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson to have significant contributions while quarterback Desmond Ridder also was effective on the ground. The Falcons set a season high with 228 rushing yards and it seems clear Robinson's lead role will continue with Ridder's return as the starter.

JETS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Breece Hall. The speedy running back has been stifled lately, rushing for just 76 yards on 27 carries - a measly 2.8 yards per attempt - in his past three games. He was listed as questionable for the game with a hamstring issue, but fully practiced Friday. Hall, considered by the coaches the engine of the Jets' offense, has run for no more than 50 yards in the six games since rushing for a career-high 177 at Denver. Hall was critical of himself after last week's game, and coach Robert Saleh said the running back was pressing too much to try to make big plays for the struggling offense.

KEY MATCHUP: Robinson vs. Jets' run defense. The weakness of New York's overall very solid defense is its performance against the run. The Jets are allowing the second-most yards per game on the ground with 140.3. That comes after Miami ran for 167 yards and two TDs on 37 attempts against them last week. The Falcons' combination of Robinson, Allgeier and Patterson could set the tone early.

KEY INJURIES: Falcons LB Nate Landman was held out Wednesday with a thigh injury, but was removed from the injury report after being limited Thursday and Friday. ... WR Mack Hollins (ankle) did not play last week, and was questionable to play against New York. ... Jets QB Aaron Rodgers returned to practice on a limited basis after tearing his left Achilles tendon in the season opener. He hasn't been cleared for full football activities. ... RBs Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and Israel Abanikanda (illness) were questionable.

SERIES Game notes

The Falcons have won two straight and four of the past five in the series. ... Atlanta won 25-20 in its previous game at the Jets on Oct. 29, 2017. ... The teams' first meeting came in 1973, when the Falcons won 28-20 behind two touchdown runs by Eddie Ray and two TD tosses by Bob Lee.

STATS AND STUFF: The Falcons, who are tied with New Orleans to lead the NFC South, are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since opening the season with wins over Carolina and Green Bay. ... The Falcons overcame Ridder's two interceptions to beat the Saints. Turnovers were a major reason Ridder lost the starting job and Taylor Heinicke started two straight games. Ridder now has seven TD passes and eight interceptions this season. ... Ridder has no interceptions in six of seven career road starts. ... Robinson leads NFL rookies with 703 yards rushing and 943 scrimmage yards. He joined Lynn Cain (Week 7, 1979) as the Falcons' second rookie with rushing and receiving TDs in the same game. ... WR Drake London has at least five catches in five of his past six games, including five for 91 yards last week. ... S Jessie Bates had 12 tackles, one forced fumble and an interception returned 92 yards for a TD against the Saints and was selected NFC defensive player of the week for the second time this season. ... LB Kaden Elliss has a career-high 79 tackles. ... The Jets are trying to end a four-game skid, their longest since losing the last six games of last season. ... Tim Boyle will get his second start in a row at QB in place of the benched Zach Wilson. Boyle was 27 of 38 for 179 yards and a TD with two interceptions against Miami in his first start since the 2021 season. He was sacked seven times and threw only four passes of 10 yards or more. ... Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's unit has scored just 10 touchdowns in 11 games. The Jets rank last in the NFL in several categories, including third down conversion rates (24.1%) and red zone (28%) efficiency. ... New York has used eight starting combinations on the offensive line, including in each of the past seven games. ... DL Bryce Huff leads the Jets with six sacks and tops the NFL in QB pressure rate (24.4%). ... S Ashtyn Davis has two INTs and two fumble recoveries on defense in just 100 snaps played. He's one of only seven players in the NFL with at least two of each.

FANTASY TIP: Jets WR Garrett Wilson is still seeing plenty of targets - eight or more in six straight games. But he has just one touchdown in that span and New York's offense just isn't doing enough to rely on any individual player from a fantasy standpoint. Wilson is probably a WR3 at best with fantasy teams jockeying for playoff position.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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