Week Fifteen Analysis:
Matt Ryan gets the pleasure of playing the league's most dysfunctional team, the Washington Redskins. Ryan has been a middling fantasy producer since Julio Jones' injury, but a meeting with Washington is too tempting not to try to exploit. Washington has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five of the past seven games, including two last week to Alex Smith on just 20 passes. With Roddy White now fully healthy, and Tony Gonzalez a week healthier on his bum toe, Matt Ryan has unusual upside this week.
Week Thirteen Analysis:
Even with the return of Roddy White, Matt Ryan is producing worse stats than when White was out. Through the first six weeks of the season Ryan averaged over two touchdowns per game. Over the last five games, he's averaged just one score, and he was shut out last week. His offensive line is playing poorly, and his running game is almost non-existent. You'd think a matchup with Buffalo would be an ideal opportunity to bounce back. But, the Bills secondary is finally healthy, and they're playing well. Buffalo has allowed just one touchdown pass over the last three games. And over those three games, they've given up 204 passing yards, 124 yards, and 103 yards. So, I'm nervous about Ryan yet again.
Week Twelve Analysis:
When Matt Ryan met these same Saints in the season opener, he posted one of the best passing games against the Saints all season, 304 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, at the time he had Julio Jones, which certainly helped, and Julio did score in that game. Since that week one game, we've learned that the Falcons are a shell of last year's team. But one area of modest stability has been Matt Ryan. He's thrown touchdowns in every game. His defense is so bad that he's been forced to throw the fourth most passes per game. On Sunday, he'll surely be down by a lot against Drew Brees, and passing throughout the game, and he'll find his way to the end zone, like he has in 18 straight games.
Week Eleven Analysis:
Matt Ryan's impressive start to the season seems like it was a grillion years ago, as he's now tossed just one touchdown in three straight games. But, in his defense, he's faced three pretty good secondaries over that stretch: Seattle, Carolina, and Arizona. Let's not give up on Ryan quite yet though. Roddy White should be one game healthier. And he gets one of the easiest secondaries in the league, Tampa Bay. Tampa has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five straight games. Sure, Ryan is a statue, but if you include quarterback rushing scores, they've given up 15 touchdowns to the position over the last five games. Ryan should bounce back nicely.
Week Ten Analysis:
To his credit, Matt Ryan hasn't been a total disaster since losing Julio Jones and Roddy White. He's still managed to throw touchdowns in every game. But, he's thrown just one score in each of the last two weeks. And, I think that's what we're looking at here. Roddy White either won't play, or will play at less than 100%, which has been a recipe for disaster. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are allowing less than 1 passing touchdown per game, and three of the last four quarterbacks they've faced have thrown for less than 171 yards. Your glimmer of hope is that Seattle has only faced one other really good passer, Andrew Luck, and he managed two scores.
Week Nine Analysis:
Matt Ryan's consecutive multiple touchdown streak came to an end last week, as the Falcons were flummoxed by the Cardinals. And, it's not likely that Ryan gets back on track this week. After, all no opponent has managed multiple touchdown passes against the Panthers. Granted, Ryan will be the best passer they've faced. But still, only allowing six touchdown passes in seven games is damn good, and Ryan will likely still be without Roddy White. Show caution with Matt Ryan.
Week Eight Analysis:
"What? Me Worry?" That's a classic phrase by Mad Magazine cover boy Alfred E. Neuman and the mantra for Matt Ryan owners after he lost Julio Jones for the season and was missing Roddy White for the week. Ryan didn't skip a beat, completing 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns in his first game without his best two wide receivers. Matt Ryan is better than we've given him credit for. So it's not surprising that we're not worried about a matchup with Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals. Arizona has allowed multiple touchdown passes to five of seven quarterbacks, and have allowed over 250 yards to five of seven quarterbacks this season.
Week Seven Analysis:
We can't talk about Matt Ryan without addressing his wobbly wide receiver situation. Julio Jones is done for the year. The bye week should have helped Roddy White's ankle and hamstring injuries, but his status is up the air. That leaves slot receiver Harry Douglas, two young guys, Drew Davis and Kevin Cone, who have one career catch between them, and veteran Brian Robiskie who they signed off the street. So, Tony Gonzalez will need to catch a whole lotta passes if Ryan wants to keep his streak of two touchdown passes in every game alive. The Bucs secondary had played pretty well until last week, when Nick Foles carved 'em up for 296 and three scores. The usually safe Ryan is looking at his toughest start in a long time.
Week Five Analysis:
Consistency. Dependability. No, this isn't a pickup truck commercial. This is Matt Ryan. If you want multiple touchdowns in every game, call on Ryan, he's accomplished that feat in each game this season and in 9 of his last 10 starts. Reliability. Stability. No, we're still not talking about towing capacity. We're talking about a Jets defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes in only 2 of the last 9 games. But this Jets defense has no Revis Island, nor any other landforms, and they just allowed 4 touchdown passes last week to the combo of Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick. It's a solid bet that Matty Ice keeps his streak alive.
Week Four Analysis:
When it comes to Matt Ryan, we keep saying, "Just wait until Roddy White gets healthy." Well, in the meantime, Ryan is putting up good numbers. He's topped 300 yards in two of three games, and thrown exactly two scores in all three. What's more, Ryan has now thrown multiple scores in nine straight games. And, White should be better any day now, based on the usual recovery timetable for high ankle sprains. Meanwhile, the Patriots secondary has faced the easiest trio of quarterbacks on any team's schedule so far: first start rookie EJ Manuel, second start rookie Geno Smith, and the soon-to-be-benched Josh Freeman. Those guys will inflate any secondary's stats. I don't trust the perennially bad Patriots secondary to slow Ryan at all. The Patriots are in for a shock when the see Ryan, Julio Jones, and yes, Roddy White.
Week Three Analysis:
The rebuilt Miami secondary did a nice job against Andrew Luck last week, holding him in check, and helping earn an upset win against Indianapolis. But, they face an even tougher assignment against Matt Ryan this week. With Steven Jackson ailing, and Jacquizz Rodgers sucking, Ryan should throw 40+ passes. It's hardly a stretch. He threw 40+ passes eight times last year, and in those games, he averaged a whopping 335 yards, and 2.25 touchdowns per game. Sure, Miami will know it's coming, but I don't think they can stop Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonazalez.
Week Two Analysis:
The St. Louis secondary showed a lot of holes for Carson Palmer to exploit last Sunday. The normally reliable Cortland Finnegan got the lowest rating of any NFL cornerback last week by scouting service Pro Football Focus. And now the Rams get a much tougher test as they travel to face Matt Ryan and the deep set of Falcons receivers. After all, the Cardinals passing attack is mostly one guy deep, Larry Fitzgerald. Yet the Rams managed to make Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd looks good too. That bodes well for Ryan, and I expect a good game from him. But, maybe not a great game. The danger comes from the Rams front seven, which led the league in sacks last year, and posted four against Carson Palmer last week. The Falcons offensive line allowed three sacks to the tepid Saints defense last week, strongly suggesting that Ryan may find himself on the run all day. Add in Roddy White's injury, and I'm keeping my expectations in check.
Week One Analysis:
Frequently in this preseason, I've talked about my nervousness regarding Matt Ryan's offensive line. But, in the season opener, I'm not concerned. Here's why: The Saints defensive line produced very little pressure last year, registering the fourth fewest sacks in the NFL. And, while the Saints wisely jettisoned defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but most of the Saints' defensive personnel is the same, and this unit has a long way to go before I'll trust them to give anyone trouble, especially Matt Ryan. In three of Ryan's last four matchups with the Saints he's thrown more than 351 yards, including a 411 outing last year in the Superdome, the site of this game. Ryan is an elite start against last year's No. 31 pass defense, especially assuming Roddy White is able to play.
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Matt Ryan's attempts exploded last year, as the Falcons converted into a pass-first offense, playing into the team's personnel strengths with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. The offseason addition of Steven Jackson doesn't really change that. Jackson has racked up 2,800 touches from scrimmage over his career, and I don't see the Falcons asking him to carry the ball 300 times, a number he hasn't sniffed in two straight years. So, it'll remain pass first in Atlanta. That puts Ryan back in the range of 600 passes again, and like last year, he could flirt with another 30 touchdowns and 5,000 yards. Especially so with Jones entering his third year, and Gonzalez deciding to hold off his retirement.
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