At this point in the season, it is well known that the Atlanta Falcons don’t trust their quarterback Marcus Mariota and that they have limited Cordarrelle Patterson’s touches in an effort to keep him healthy. For the Falcons to have a chance to beat the Steelers this week and remain in the division race one of these things must change.
Arthur Smith has continued to run Mariota out as the starter despite his continual overthrows and costly mistakes making it highly unlikely we see Desmond Ridder without a complete implosion from Marcus.
This leaves Cordarrelle Patterson as the best option for the Falcons on Sunday. With only five games left on the season the time to worry about limiting Patterson’s touches is far past. Outside of benching Marcus Mariota the clearest path to victory in this game for Atlanta is as simple as continually handing Patterson the football.
Mixing in Tyler Allgeier as a change-of-pace running back the Falcons should be focused on setting a season-high in carries against a team that has been unable to stop the run for much of the season.
Patterson has had limited touches this season and shouldn’t be on any type of pitch count considering the urgency of this game. Patterson is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has shown he is capable of breaking a big play on even poorly blocked carries.
Allgeier and Huntley have been great as well and should continue to receive carries, however, it is Patterson who is clearly the starter and more reliable option on Sunday. A win for Atlanta keeps them within a game of Tampa Bay and puts pressure on the Bucs ahead of their Monday night matchup with the Saints. This works to the benefit of the Falcons who will have an extra day of rest before facing New Orleans next week.