Posted October 10, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Off to the best start in team history, the Atlanta Falcons have tried not to make too much of their early accomplishments.
Based on the way the Oakland Raiders have played this season, the Falcons appear to have a good chance to continue that success.
Looking to remain the NFC's lone undefeated team, the Falcons can help coach Mike Smith match the franchise mark for victories while keeping the Raiders winless on the road Sunday.
Though its last two victories have not come easy, Atlanta (5-0) and Houston are the only unbeaten teams in the NFL. The Falcons rank fifth in the league with 29.6 points per game and are eighth in giving up 18.6.
"It is a great start for us, it really is,'' said Matt Ryan, who has completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,507 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. "At this point, you can't really worry about what is going on in the history of our organization, but we have put ourselves right where we need to be five games into it.''
The Falcons are 48-21 in the regular season since Smith arrived in 2008. A seventh straight home win Sunday would tie him with Dan Reeves for the most victories in team history.
Achieving that feat seems very possible against Oakland (1-3), which ranks 30th in scoring defense at 31.2 points per game and 25th in total defense at 411.5 yards a contest. The Raiders have been outscored 72-19 in their two road losses to Miami and Denver.
However, Atlanta won't take anything for granted after needing a last-second field goal to beat Carolina 30-28 on Sept. 30 and scoring the final 10 points for a 24-17 win at Washington on Sunday.
"This team's got a whole different attitude about going out there and expecting to win,'' said receiver Roddy White, among the NFL leaders with 31 receptions for 481 yards and three TDs.
At age 36, tight end Tony Gonzalez leads the league with 39 catches while totaling 388 yards and four touchdowns. He caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a score against the Redskins.
The former Kansas City Chiefs star has faced Oakland 23 times and recorded 110 receptions for 1,473 yards - his most versus any opponent - and eight TDs.
Gonzalez could be in for another big game against a Raiders squad that comes off a bye week looking for answers to problems on both sides of the ball.
"We're not going to stick our head in the sand," coach Dennis Allen said. "We're going to evaluate everything and see what things we need to improve on and where we can get better.''
Despite Allen's new defensive scheme that features more multiple fronts, coverages and blitz packages, the Raiders have allowed opponents to complete 71.5 percent of their passes. Oakland has recorded only three sacks and forced three turnovers, and the secondary has been decimated by injuries to the point that safety Michael Huff has had to play cornerback.
That's a big reason why Oakland has yielded a league-worst 53.3 percent conversion rate on third down, which would be an NFL record.
"You're not going to win many games in this league if you can't win on third down,'' defensive tackle Richard Seymour said.
The offense has not fared much better.
Oakland totaled a season-low 237 yards in a 37-6 loss to the Broncos on Sept. 30. The Raiders have converted on 27.5 percent of third downs and are averaging 3.4 yards on the ground.
Darren McFadden rushed for 113 yards with a TD in a 34-31 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 23, but he's gained 88 yards with no scores in the three losses.
In a rare positive development, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey could play for the first time since being hospitalized after a helmet-to-helmet hit against the Steelers. He has nine receptions for 98 yards with a touchdown.
Oakland hopes this contest goes better than its last meeting with Atlanta, in which it was held to 77 yards - second fewest in team history - during a 24-0 home defeat Nov. 2, 2008. Ryan threw for 220 yards with two touchdowns and Michael Turner ran for 139 yards for the Falcons.
The Raiders fell 35-10 in their last trip to Atlanta on Dec. 12, 2004.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
When the Oakland Raiders travel to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to take on the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, they must control the possession with their offense. Because Atlanta is 28-5 at home with Matt Ryan as their starting quarterback, Oakland will try to sustain drives and take the crowd out of the game. “It’s just being in a dome, it’s always going to be a little bit...
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reported on Wednesday that the Falcons tried out a trio of safeties this week: Sean Baker, David Caldwell, and Brodney Pool. The Falcons likely are kicking the tires on these free agent safeties due to concerns about their depth at the position. William Moore suffered a hip injury during the team’s Week 4 win over the Carolina Panthers and has...
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. After taking a look at Dunta Robinson's first two seasons following the Atlanta Falcons' decision to award the cornerback a six-year contract with 25.5 million guaranteed, some Falcons fans might have been left to scratch their heads.
Among the most headline-grabbing things that Robinson did in his first two seasons were hits for which he was fined by...
The Oakland Raiders have struggled to run the ball through four games this season. The inability to implement their new zone blocking scheme has led to Oakland ranking last in the league in rushing. When they travel to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the Raiders will have the opportunity to run on a team ranked near the bottom of the NFL.
Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen says he expects Aaron Curry to come from the PUP list (sore knees) next week and participate in practice.“I think he’s made some progress,” Allen said, per CSNBayArea.com. “It’s different when you’re doing your rehab work as opposed to when you’re actually out there playing football. It will be a great deal for us to get him out...
Off to the best start in team history, the Atlanta Falcons have tried not to make too much of their early accomplishments.Based on the way the Oakland Raiders have played this season, the Falcons appear to have a good chance to continue that success.Looking to remain the NFC's lone undefeated team, the Falcons can help coach Mike Smith match the franchise mark for victories while...
One year ago today, a seemingly normal Saturday morning, changed my life forever. I was sitting in my living room that morning, drinking a cup of coffee and doing a little research to decide who to start/sit in my FFL’s. My boys were up and playing Black Ops on the big screen T.V., when I first saw a headline saying [...]
When the Atlanta Falcons gather in the meeting room at the beginning of each week, they can always count on coach Mike Smith putting one thing on the board.
Smith has made that a priority during his five years as coach, and the Falcons are sure following his lead this season. Atlanta is 5-0 for the first time in franchise history and has a plus-10 edge in turnovers...
One thing missing in Darren McFadden's career is a big game in the deep south. The former Southeastern Conference star at Arkansas hopes to rectify that when his Oakand Raiders play the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. "I love being down south and playing," McFadden said. "I get to see a lot of family and just being in that southern environment...
After suffering a mild concussion in Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, it was unclear whether Robert Griffin III would be able to play in next week's game. He has been cleared to take the first step in getting that chance. Doctors have cleared him to practice today.
According to Rich Campbell of the Washington Times, Griffin has passed all the concussion tests...
Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith plans to make sure that his 5-0 squad stays grounded moving forward. Instead of basking in the glow of the NFC's shiniest record, Smith, unsolicited, rips off a list of things that need to be "fixed" on his team as it prepares to face the Oakland Raiders before heading into a bye week. Among the items were the run defense, the coverage...
An Oakland Raiders training camp full of optimism and the promise of ball-hawking defensive backs giving the ball back to the offense has given way to a drought. With the starting cornerbacks out due to injury and an anemic pass rush, the makeshift secondary of the Raiders has yet to intercept its first pass through four games. “I wouldn’t have believed it,” cornerback...
The Atlanta Falcons improved their record to 5-0 with a 24-17 comeback win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The game featured some big performances by Falcons players. Tony Gonzalez caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown and Julio Jones hauled in 10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest performance, though, and the hero of the game goes to quarterback Matt...