The 2013 NFL season hasn’t started the way the Atlanta Falcons expected. Following a trip to the NFC Championship Game, the Falcons began the year as one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl. Now, Atlanta enters it’s Week Five contest hoping to avoid a 1-4 start.
On the bright side for the defending NFC South champs, their losses have come to some of the best teams in football. They been defeated by the unbeaten New Orleans Saints and the 4-1 New England Patriots. Atlanta also lost on the road to the Miami Dolphins. On Monday, though, they should get one of their easier tests this season.
The New York Jets, who actually have a better record at 2-2, will look to pull off one of the biggest upsets this year when they visit Atlanta. The Falcons are double-digit favorites, despite their early struggles.
"You just don't panic," said Roddy White. "You are what you earn in this league, so we're 1-3. You just go out there and correct the problems that you have and get ready for the next game. We know at 1-3 that we can't get back to .500 after one game."
The wide receiver remains optimistic about Atlanta’s chances going forward, even if he’s having a disappointing season. White hasn’t missed a game and will likely suit up against the Jets, but he’s been battling an ankle injury. In four contests, the wide receiver has just 84 total yards and hasn’t caught more than three catches a game.
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"I've got to get right," White said. "The bye week is coming at really, really good time. No vacation. No time off for Roddy. No cruising. No, none of that. I'll be cruising right here in the training room."
Though White has not played at full strength, Matt Ryan has still been able to put up big numbers. He leads the third-best passing offense in football, with Julio Jones heading into Week Five as the NFL’s leading receiver. In his 17th season, Tony Gonzalez is still one of the best tight ends in the league, recording 242 receiving yards and three touchdowns, thus far.
Going up against an explosive offense, the pressure will be on Geno Smith. The rookie suffered his worst loss last week when the Tennessee Titans blew out New York 38-13. The quarterback threw two more interceptions, increasing his total to right on the year.
The Falcons have more talent on offense, but their struggles in the red zone could keep New York in the game. Only the Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars have done a worse job of getting the ball in the end zone, once they get to the 20-yard line. The Jets have converted 50 percent of their red zone opportunities, compared to 38.9 percent for the Falcons.
New York should be returning two offensive players with wide out Stephen Hill and running back Chris Ivory both listed as probably. Santonio Holmes has been ruled out with knee and hamstring issues.
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Atlanta -10, 44.5
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Prediction: Atlanta 27, New York 13