4. The Reality Is, the Falcons pose some unique threats to some perceived Commanders strengths.
Washington’s special teams have been a massive reason for their competitiveness this season. They have performed quite well in both kick and coverage.
This week, they come up against the most prolific kickoff returner in NFL history in Cordarrelle Patterson. More-so than it has been in any other game this season, special teams (and especially kick coverage) is going to be essential. The Commanders have also been exceptional defending the run this season, but Atlanta is a top-five run-blocking team, and they are averaging almost 160 yards rushing per game, good enough for third in the league.
In many ways, it seems likely this game may simply come down to this matchup.
3. The Reality Is, Rivera, Turner, and Heinicke have yet to find their groove.
This team has won 5 of their last 6, in spite of the offense being somewhere between inept and adequate during that entire run. With the exception of a few fantastic plays and some key drives in which they were efficient on 3rd downs, it has continued to be a disappointing season for this offensive unit.
That can be attributed to a variety of factors, but one underrated one is the lack of chemistry between Ron Rivera, Scott Turner, and Taylor Heinicke. There has not really been a complete game of offensive efficiency at any point this season, and I believe that has to do with Turner’s natural offensive coordinating style not meshing naturally with Rivera’s more conservative approach.
Add in the totally different style that Heinicke brings as compared to Carson Wentz, and the chemistry at the top of the offensive decision-making tree has been severely lacking. I’d like to see Washington put together a full game of offensive production demonstrating a solid balance between aggression and ball-control….which would indicate these three are all on the same page.