Aug 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have historically been a very different team at home than on the road. This season, they are 2-1 at home versus 0-3 on the road. Since 2008, the Falcons have scored, on average, 4.2 more points and allowed 2.6 less points at home than on the road. Additionally, they have a turnover margin of +30 when operating in the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome, versus +1 on the road.
Matt Ryan himself is a much different player outside of Atlanta. In his six years in the league, Ryan sports a 67.0% completion rate with a passer rating of 98.7 at home versus a 61.1% and 84.7 on the road. This type of split performance is not unusual among quarterbacks who play in a dome. The same can be said for both Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford, who both have historically played better under a roof than they do outdoors.
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This does not mean that Matt Ryan can’t do some damage against a struggling Raven’s secondary, of course. The Falcons sport one of the more dangerous passing games in the NFL with Julio Jones and Roddy White. Ryan is still the 4th highest rated quarterback in the league despite the Falcon’s 2-4 record, and is 2nd in passing yards and 6th in touchdowns. Julio Jones is 3rd in yards and second in targets.
Thankfully the Ravens can employ Jimmy Smith on Jones, and Lardarius Webb should be able to keep up with Roddy White. The bigger concern lies beyond those two. New nickle back Dominique Franks just played his first game of the season last week, and Matt Elam and Darian Stewart continue to be liabilities in coverage. Ryan has proven in the past that he can make magic with guys like Devin Hester and Harry Douglas, so expect them to get lots of targets this week.
The Ravens can hide their weak depth in the secondary by bringing pressure, of course. Matt Ryan has been sacked ten times this season behind a subpar offensive line that is only 15th in the NFL in pass blocking. The Ravens defense is coming off a hot performance against the Bucs where they exposed a similarly bad offensive line. The Falcons simply don’t have the ground game to relieve pressure either, sporting a unit that is only 17th in the NFL.
We know that the only chance the Falcons have of picking up a win in Baltimore lies in the hands of Matt Ryan. The Falcons defense is bad, currently pulling up the rear of the NFL as the 6th worst. If the Ravens again come out hot as they did last week against the Bucs, it will be up to Ryan to keep them afloat. And it will be up to the Ravens pass rush to make sure he doesn’t have time to expose their weak secondary depth.