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NFL London – Previewing New York Jets v Atlanta Falcons

After a year out due to Covid-19, the NFL makes its return to London as the New York Jets take on the Atlanta Falcons at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The custom NFL field has been set the teams have arrived and now all we wait for is kickoff. While things are a bit different, there is a familiar buzz of anticipation as the UK prepares to host the next installment of NFL London.

With that in mind let’s look at the teams and how they stack up, heading into their week five matchup.

The first thing that stands out is that we probably shouldn’t anticipate this one being a shootout. The two teams combined have averaged barely over 30 points a game. That’s grim reading by all accounts. I would expect this won’t be a game for the Offensive purists among us, however both teams have a negative turnover rate, meaning we could see plenty of changes of possession.

The two teams have met only twelve times in their history, with the Falcons owning a narrow lead with a 7-5 record in the series against the Jets. The last time these two teams met was in 2017, the Falcons snapped a 3-game losing streak with a 4th Quarter comeback win against a Josh McCown led Jets side. The Falcons went on to finish the year 10-6 and made it to the Divisional round. The Jets, on the other hand, finished the year 5-11.

Both teams are 1-3 so far in 2021, with the Falcons getting their season’s first win in week 3 with a 17-14 win over the New York Giants. The Jets on the other hand got their first win in week 4 with a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Both teams are also making their 2nd trip to London to play, the Falcons made their one previous visit to the UK in 2014, where they suffered an agonizing 22-21 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Lions, in that game the Lions missed a game-winning field goal, but there was a false start which couldn’t be declined and the 2nd attempt sailed through. The Jets made their trip across the following year, where they managed a 27-14 win over divisional rivals the Miami Dolphins. In that game, a Ryan Fitzpatrick led Jets Offence leaned heavily on Chris Ivory who had 29 carries for 166 yards and a Touchdown.

Making history in London: Zach Wilson could do just that, if the 2nd overall pick can lead the Jets to a win, he will be the first rookie Quarterback to win in London. There have been four previous who have tried and failed, and I’m sure Wilson will want to secure that title before the only person picked before him in the 2021 Draft in Trevor Lawrence, gets his chance at that title next weekend. Not to mention that winning this week would mean the Jets will have already matched their total wins in 2020 by just week five, despite the dreadful start to the year for Zach Wilson, getting back-to-back wins will certainly ease some of the pressure on the young signal-caller.

Falcons regretting the 2021 Draft: Looking at the Falcons in 2020, it really was a case of all throttle and no breaks, their Offence at times put up points aplenty, but the total lack of pass rush and leaky secondary made it all for nothing as time and time again they were outdone. Nothing sums up the recent Falcons seasons than last year’s choke job v the Dallas Cowboys. Yet despite all this, the Falcons went into the 2021 draft and didn’t fill the need of Offensive Line in the first round, didn’t get a pass rusher but instead opted for freak athlete Kyle Pitts. Through the first four games, the Rookie Tight End has only secured 15 catches for 189 yards and not a single Touchdown. Whilst the yards have him 7th among Tight Ends, the lack of a touchdown has him behind 33 others who have all secured a score. Meanwhile, many rookie defensive players and the two top Offensive line are putting together stellar seasons. Perhaps all offence isn’t the best strategy.

Patterson emerging as the Offensive weapon he was always supposed to be: Often we have watched Cordarrelle Patterson and wondered why it never works for him, analysts and fans alike were saying just get that ball in his hands, but it just never worked. Arthur Smith is doing just that and whether it’s due to scheme or belief in him, the rewards are obvious to see. Patterson has become the Falcons most dangerous weapon, racking up 354 total yards through the first four games as well as scoring five touchdowns. The four Touchdowns he has managed through just the opening four games ties his career-high despite all the weapons surrounding him. They are going to need him to step up once more as receiver Calvin Ridley has not made the trip to London for Personal Reasons, as well as Russell Gage also being out.

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