Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins: What to watch for this time around


The Atlanta Falcons cross paths with the Miami Dolphins for the second time in as many months. With this one counting for real, what should fans be looking for in Sunday’s game?

The last time the Atlanta Falcons saw the Miami Dolphins, it was week one of the preseason.

With that came a completely different set of questions surrounding the team. Fast forward two months and both teams are a quarter of the way through their respective seasons.

Needless to say, a lot has changed since that matchup in early August.

The Falcons enter week five with a 3-1 record and still have their sights set on repeating as NFC Champions. Meanwhile, the Dolphins—a playoff representative from last year, too—have all but imploded just four games in.

While Miami’s 2-2 record doesn’t quite speak to that, there’s a good reason Atlanta enters this contest as 12.5-point favorites. The Dolphins are bad.

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So, you may be asking yourself—why even tune in then on Sunday? Why not just relax and have two straight weeks of stress-free living to look forward to?

Well, if you skip out on the action, then you’ll miss out on finding the answers to these pivotal questions. Here are three things to watch for in the Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins game.

#1. Will we see the Falcons fix their turnover problem?

This game is the closest thing the Falcons have to a cake walk on the rest of their schedule. The only way they fall short of victory is if they beat themselves, which has been an issue of late.

As we covered in the week four installment of Falcons First Takes, Atlanta has not been very good with the ball in their last two outings.

The Falcons enter this week tied for the fourth worst turnover margin in the NFL. Thanks to their two takeaways last week versus Tennessee, Miami no longer owns the mark for fewest takeaways in the league.

That honor now belongs to our beloved Dirty Birds. Hopefully we won’t be able to say that after Sunday.

#2. Will a healthier Falcons team return to form following the bye?

The bye week came at a very opportune time given the Falcons’ injury situation. By the conclusion of their week four loss to the Buffalo Bills, Atlanta had as many as eight players banged up.

With the exception of Jack Crawford being put on season-ending IR, the Dirty Birds have come out of the bye on the right side of the spectrum health-wise.

Only Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) is not expected to practice at all this week. However, both Vic Beasley (hamstring) and Courtney Upshaw (leg) face uphill battles to play on Sunday.

On the bright side, the Falcons will welcome back Ryan Schraeder and Ricardo Allen to the lineup this week. Their returns should pay immediate dividends protecting Matt Ryan and quarterbacking the defense, respectively.

#3. How will Dan Quinn rotate his depleted defensive line?

Speaking of injuries, the defensive line has taken the biggest hit to its depth in that regard.

With Crawford done for the year and Upshaw missing extensive time, Atlanta has had to turn to two practice squad players in Joe Vellano and Taniela Tupou.

The Falcons brought up Tupou this week with the intention of filling the void left by Crawford. Having said that, here is how the team’s defensive line rotation should shake out on Sunday.

In their week four loss, the Bills bullied Atlanta’s defensive front on their way to two six-plus minute drives.

While the two drives only netted three points, the Bills exposed a nagging issue of Dan Quinn’s bunch.

The line of scrimmage battle has been one that has ailed the Falcons for quite a while now. With Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi coming to town on Sunday, Quinn and company have an opportunity to re-write that narrative.

While the Dolphins have had the Falcons’ number of late, the result often times has proven moot since many of those games came in the preseason.

But with Atlanta coming in as heavy favorites and this being the last easy game before the schedule heats up, a loss on Sunday would be devastating.

Next: Bye Week Came at the Perfect Time for Falcons

No pressure, guys.