Cover 9@9: Matt Ryan looking to avoid another no-TD streak

1. The No Spin Zone. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has had two statistical oddities this season.

He had back-to-back games without a touchdown pass in Game 4 and 5 against Green Bay (Oct. 5) and Carolina (Oct. 11).

Ryan snapped his streak of 11 quarters without throwing a touchdown pass, the longest touchdown passing drought of his illustrious career, against Minnesota.

As a rookie in 2008, Ryan didn’t throw a touchdown pass in back to back games against Denver and Carolina.

Also, in his last outing. Ryan had a passer rating of 48.5, his lowest in more than 114 games.

He had a 47.2 pass rating in a 27-13 loss to Arizona on Oct. 27, 2013, his 85th regular-season game.

Ryan will look to get the offense back on track when the Falcons (3-7) host the Las Vegas Raiders at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Ryan believes the Saints have one of their better defenses.

“They are playing well, there’s no doubt about it,” Ryan said. “They’ve been playing well all year and giving people trouble at different times. Again, my hat is off to them.”

Ryan may have to carry on without his favorite weapon, wide receiver Julio Jones.

“I think it’s always tough, anytime that he goes down,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to replace that production and it also changes how teams defend us. But it’s not an excuse. We have got to find a way with the guys out there to be better. That’s going to take all of the guys on our offense, 22, 23 guys deep. We have to find a way to be productive.”

The Raiders allow 27.6 points per game, which ranks 26th in the NFL.

“Anytime you don’t score touchdowns you are disappointed, whether you are coming off a bye or regardless of the week,” Ryan said. “We do this and we work hard, our responsibility as an offense is to score touchdowns and score points. We were not very good (against the Saints). We’ve got to be better (against the Raiders).”

The Raiders are 6-4 and coming off a tough 35-31 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“We’ve got (Las) Vegas, and they are playing very well,” Ryan said. “So, we have to focus on that, be better and get a win next week.”

Ryan ranks third in the NFL with 2,978 passing yards in 2020.

If Ryan has at least 22 passing yards against the Raiders, it would mark his 11th consecutive season with at least 3,000 passing yards — the longest such streak in franchise history, the eighth longest streak in NFL history and the third-longest active streak in the league.

Only Philip Rivers (14 seasons, 2006-19) and Tom Brady (11 seasons, 2009-19) have longer active streaks.

2. Screen and Draw game. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the Falcons did try to slow the Saints with screen passes and draw plays.

“Well we had two screens, and we mess them both up,” Koetter said. “We had two draws for no gains. I guess those didn’t work too well, either. We really didn’t have much going our way to be truthful.”

3. Game-time decision: Jones, who played 35% of the offensive snaps and was in and out of the game with tightness in his hamstring against the Saints, will be a game-time decision.

“So, we’ll get a chance to get him through Wednesday, through Thursday,” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said. “Obviously, we’ll take Julio into a game-time decision and give him the best opportunity in order to go out there and be able to compete as long as he’s healthy.”

The Falcons will be extra cautious with Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowl player, who has missed two games this season (Chicago on Sept. 27 and Carolina on Oct. 11) and didn’t play in the second half against Green Bay on Oct. 5. Jones has caught 45 or 56 targets for 677 yards and three touchdowns.

“You never want to put your guy in harm’s way,” Morris said. “You never want to put our guy in harm’s way. He means too much to me and to our franchise that we won’t do that.”

Jones was in the facility Monday to get treatment.

“(He was) doing all of the things that he needed to do, finding out exactly how deep it is and what’s wrong,” Morris said.

4. Series history: This will be the 15th regular-season meeting with the Raiders. The series is tied at 7-7, but the Falcons have won the past four meetings. In the last meeting, the Falcons won 35-28 on Sept. 18, 2016 in Oakland.

5. A quick look at the Raiders: The Raiders are paced by quarterback Derek Carr and tight end Darren Waller, a former North Cobb High and Georgia Tech standout. Carr has completed 219 of 314 passes for 2,431 yards, 19 touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a passer rating of 108.7.

Waller has caught 60 passes for 519 yards and five touchdowns.

Running back Josh Jacobs is another key weapon. He’s rushed 199 times for 755 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Raiders defense is led by defensive end Maxx Crosby, who has six sacks and safety Johnathan Abram, who started his career at Georgia before transferring to Mississippi State. He has 57 tackles, an interception and four quarterback hits.

“They are a zone-oriented four-down front team,” Koetter said.

The Raiders defense is not highly ranked in the key categories. They are 26th (points allowed, 27.6), 23rd (yards allowed, 385.8), 28th (passing yards allowed, 273.6) and 12th (rushing yards allowed, 112.2).

“They started the season maybe giving up a lot of yardage rushing,” Koetter said. “But the last month of the season, they are playing much faster on defense. I think when you play 10 games into the season, your stats tell one story, but how they are really playing the last month, I think they are playing much better than their stats indicate.”

Koetter noted that the Raiders beat the Chiefs earlier this season and lost to them in the final minutes Sunday.

“That shows how much better they are playing on defense,” Koetter said.

6. Home dogs: The Falcons are 1.5-point home underdogs to the Las Vegas Raiders, according to www.betonline.ag (@betonline_ag)

Here are the early NFL betting lines for Thanksgiving week:

Week 12 NFL Football Line

Thursday

· Houston Texans at Detroit Lions (-2)

· Washington at Dallas Cowboys (-2½)

· Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)

Sunday

· Las Vegas Raiders (-1½) at Atlanta Falcons

· Arizona Cardinals (-2½) at New England Patriots

· New York Giants (-4) at Cincinnati Bengals

· Cleveland Browns (-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars

· Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings (No line yet)

· Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

· Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills (-5)

· Miami Dolphins (-6½) at New York Jets

· New Orleans Saints (-5) at Denver Broncos

· San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-7)

· Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

· Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7½)

Monday

· Seattle Seahawks (-6½) at Philadelphia Eagles

Credit: AJC

Falcons center Alex Mack discusses the film review of the 8 sacks the team allowed against the Saints in the 24-9 loss.

Credit: AJC

7. Top 10 in the draft: With the loss to the Saints, the Falcons moved into the ninth position for the 2021 NFL draft, according to Tankathon.

The Falcons, who may be favored in only one of their final six games, could continue to move up by losing games.

The Falcons are 1.5-point underdogs for their game against the Raiders (6-4) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

After the Raiders, the Falcons play the Saints (8-2), Chargers (3-7), Chiefs (9-1) and Buccaneers (7-3) twice. They may be favored against the Chargers.

If the Falcons do not pull off any upsets, they would finish the season 4-12.

To earn the top pick in the draft, the Falcons are chasing the Jets (0-10), Jaguars (1-9), Bengals (2-7-1). The Falcons are in pack of 3-7 teams that includes the Cowboys, Washington, Chargers, Giants and the Texans. Miami holds Houston’s first-round pick.

In the Tankathon 2021 mock draft, the Falcons are selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau, who’s 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, went to Dolphins, who have the eighth pick.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields went first and second in Tankathon’s most recent mock draft.

8. Practice squad: Running back Tony Brooks-James and wide receiver Devin Gray were signed to the practice squad Monday.

The Falcons also released linebacker Jake Carlock from the practice squad.

9. Depth chart: The Falcons released their official depth chart for the Raiders’ game Tuesday.

Darqueze Dennard has taken over at right cornerback for Kendall Sheffield, and we had to adjust the official depth chart to reflect that change in the lineup.

Also, Isaiah Oliver has moved to the nickel back, Luke Stocker moved ahead of Jaeden Graham, who’s listed as the No. 2 tight end even though Stocker plays more snaps, and Matt Hennessy was moved to backup center since he replaced Alex Mack when he missed a play.

Here’s the depth chart for the Raiders’ game:

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Christian Blake

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 73 Matt Gono

LG 77 James Carpenter, 61 Matt Hennessy

C 51 Alex Mack, 61 Matt Hennessy 65 Justin McCray

RG 63 Chris Lindstrom, 65 Justin McCray

RT 76 Kaleb McGary, 75 John Wetzel

TE 81 Hayden Hurst, 88 Luke Stocker, 87 Jaeden Graham

WR 83 Russell Gage, 15 Brandon Powell,

WR 18 Calvin Ridley, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub

HB 21 Todd Gurley II, 23 Brian Hill, 25 Ito Smith, 30 Qadree Ollison

FB 40 Keith Smith

DEFENSE

DE 93 Allen Bailey, 92 Charles Harris

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 90 Marlon Davidson, 94 Deadrin Senat

DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 50 John Cominsky

DE 55 Steven Means, 91 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

LB 45 Deion Jones, 59 LaRoy Reynolds, 46 Edmond Robinson

LB 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 43 Mykal Walker

RCB 34 Darqueze Dennard, 20 Kendall Sheffield

LCB 24 A.J. Terrell, 44 Tyler Hall

NCB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 32 Jaylinn Hawkins

SPECIALISTS

K 7 Younghoe Koo

P 4 Sterling Hofrichter

LS 47 Josh Harris

KO 7 Younghoe Koo

KR 15 Brandon Powell

PR 15 Brandon Powell

Falcons’ next four games

Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29

Saints at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6

Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13

Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10

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