Falcons vs. Redskins: 5 Key Players

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Ryan Schraeder

Ryan Kerrigan seems like the exact type of edge rusher that will give the Falcons trouble. Schraeder will likely be matched up with him on the right side throughout the afternoon. Atlanta’s going to have to score a lot of points in every game in order to win. Since they haven’t been able to establish a consistent ground attack, the weight is on Matt Ryan‘s shoulders to move the ball down the field. It’s worked so far but has faltered against teams with good pass rushers like the Eagles and Steelers, and teams with not so good pass rushers like the Giants in their last game. A standout showing from Schraeder would go a long way to a Falcons win.

D.J. Swearinger

D.J Swearinger is one of the most physical players in the national football league. Before targeting was really a thing, Swearinger was a regular at delivering vicious blows resulting in multiple concussions. When targeting was being introduced, it took him quite a while to get the hang of it. Now, most of that is behind him, and he’s starting to tip-toe into the class of elite safeties in the NFL.

Physicality can only get you so far. Over the last three years, Swearinger has become a ball hawk. He had 7 interceptions in 2016 and 2017 combined and already has 4 this season in 7 games. It’s no wonder that he is currently Pro Football Focus’s highest-rated safety. Oh, and the Skins just paired him with a pretty good running mate back there in Haha Clinton-Dix. Matt Ryan has been as good as it gets at protecting the football, but Washington’s pass rush and this man could change that on Sunday.

Robert Alford

After a couple of really promising seasons, Alford has started to revert back to his early-career tendencies in 2018, getting beat too often and committing far too many penalties. However, this guy has proven of the years he can be a solid starter in this league. A lot of the big plays he’s allowed have been to star receivers like A.J. Green and Odell Beckham Jr. The Redskins don’t have anything near those guys on their roster. This is a game Alford can really thrive in, which will hopefully give him some confidence down the stretch.

Grady Jarrett

It’s almost impossible to talk about the Atlanta defense without mentioning this guy. The difference between the defensive line’s performance with him on the field and with him off the field is night and day. This week, Jarrett will be coming off a full week of rest which he desperately needed, and I expect him to be a nightmare for the Redskins offensive line.

His partner on the inside, Jack Crawford, has actually been quite productive all season long. The combination of the two is going to make it very hard for Adrian Peterson to run between the tackles, where he has thrived his entire career. Jarrett is also one of the rare interior defensive linemen that can consistently generate pressure. His two sacks in their last games versus the Giants were key to the victory.

Chris Thompson

Thompson has missed practice this week with a rib injury and his status for the game is in question. It looks like it is going to come down to just how well he can cope with the pain on Sunday. With that being said, the Redskins could really take advantage of his skill set versus the Falcons.

Since the loss of Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, Atlanta has been terrible all season at covering backs out of the backfield. Thompson is one of the best at turning those catches into big plays. He doesn’t always have a prominent role in the Washington offense, but this is one of the games that is tailor-made for his skill set. Hopefully, he decides to take it easy this week, but if I were him, I’d be doing everything I could to be on that field.

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