Opponent: Washington Redskins
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Time: 1 p.m.
Point Spread (Danny Sheridan's odds as published in USA Today): Atlanta is favored by 3 with an over of 52.
Key Offensive Match-up: The Redskins have three injured defensive starters: pass-rushing outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, a two-time Pro-Bowler, and defensive tackle Adam Carriker, both of whom are out for the season, along with safety Brandon Meriweather. For the Falcons who had problems pass-protecting last week against Carolina, allowing seven sacks, that is a help. If they can protect quarterback Matt Ryan with the way he has played through the first four games he has the highest passer rating in the NFL the Falcons could be on their way to 5-0.
Key Defensive Match-up: The Falcons have had huge problems defending the run this season, allowing 199 yards last week. Against a running quarterback like Robert Griffin III and the successful zone-blocking scheme of Washington coach Mike Shanahan, the Falcons could have their hands full in that department. Falcons head coach Mike Smith and his players have emphasized the need to stay on their feet against Washington's blockers and not to try and penetrate into the backfield. If they do penetrate and play on the ground, they become easy victims for the Redskins' cut-blocking scheme. Safety William Moore and middle linebacker Akeem Dent, who usually plays a minority of the snaps in preference for a fifth defensive back, could be integral parts of the run defense and will need to perform and force Griffin into passing situations. If so, Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has shown the ability to confuse even the league's most experienced quarterbacks and Griffin (five fumbles this season) could become easy prey.
Inactive: For Atlanta: quarterback Dominique Davis, cornerback Terence Johnson, fullback Lousaka Polite, tackle Lamar Holmes, tight end Michael Palmer, defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, defensive end Cliff Matthews; for Washington, quarterback Rex Grossman, wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, cornerback Cedric Griffin, safety Brandon Meriweather, linebacker Markus White, guard Josh LeRibeus, tackle Adam Gettis.