Falcons defense gaining notoriety at national level

NFL: OCT 15 Commanders at Falcons

The Falcons defense is the best-kept secret in the NFL… or at least it was. Now, it’s gaining traction at the national level. Brian Baldiner highlighted Atlanta’s red zone defense against the Buccaneers while spotlighting Nate Landman’s impressive play on Sunday.

The Falcons are winning games because of Ryan Nielsen’s defense. Desmond Ridder may have led the game-winning drive to set up the go-ahead field goal, but it was only necessary because he fumbled the ball into the endzone on the previous offensive drive.

Atlanta’s defense forced a field goal and intercepted Baker Mayfield on the Buccaneers’ final two red zone trips. That’s what won the game. The same would’ve been true in Week 7 had the Falcons beaten the Commanders.

Over Same Howel’s final four drives, Atlanta’s defense forced four punts and two three-and-outs, giving Ridder and the offense a handful of opportunities to bring the game within a two-point conversion.

The defense might not have the gaudy sack or turnover totals, but in some of the most important metrics that measure a unit’s effectiveness, Atlanta ranks in the top 10.

They rank 8th in pressure rate (25.3%) and tied for 7th in yards per rush (3.7), but the most important metrics are third down and red zone situations. The Falcons rank third in the league in third down conversion rate, allowing first downs on just 33.7% of attempts. Nielsen’s unit is also 5th in the league in red zone touchdown rate, allowing six points on just 38.9% of trips inside the 20-yard line.

This Falcons defense deserves more recognition and a dominating performance on Sunday against the Titans and Will Levis, who is making his NFL debut, could propel them into the conversation.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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