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Week Nine Preview: Ryan and the Falcons Fly into Oakland

Falcons coach Mike Smith
It was another frustrating week for the Oakland Raiders, as they were beat up on offense and ran over on defense at Baltimore on Sunday. This week they return home for an interesting matchup vs the Atlanta Falcons, a team that even though they lost in Philly last week, hung in with a team many think will a contender in the NFC.

The Raiders have struggled somewhat on offense since coach Lane Kiffin was shown the door after the teams 28-18 loss back on September 28th. Since then they have scored just 29 points in three games, and things didn’t get much better last week in losing 29-10 to the Ravens.

This week should bring an interesting challenge with the Falcons in town. If the Raiders want to try and attack the Falcons, they likely should look to the air, as Atlanta is allowing 232.9 yards per game passing. JaMarcus Russell has had his own issues the last few weeks, but this could be a game where he gets back on track.

As for the running game, last week they were shut down pretty good in Baltimore, but will stick with it and look for Justin Fargas and Michael Bush to lead the way. Rookie back Darren McFadden may again have to sit with injuries. Fargas will try to wear down the Falcons, and Bush can be a good change of pace back.

Atlanta is a team on the rise in the NFC. Matt Ryan has thrown for 1441 yards and seven TD’s, and he and Roddy White make up a solid 1-2 punch in the passing game. They will challenge the Raiders deep a few times, and if they can get some of those connections going, it will be easy to then turn to the run with bruiser Michael Turner.

Turner though has had his problems getting off the last two games after a red-hot start that saw him run for 366 yards the first three weeks of the season. In the Falcons last two games, he’s run for just 112 yards and no TD’s, and last week vs the Eagles put up 58 yards on 17 carries.

The Falcons need Turner to come back to form, and Ryan to be mistake free and make a few plays vs a defense that played well in their last home game vs Brett Favre and the Jets, recording a pair of picks in a 16-13 OT win.

On the road, the Falcons are just 1-3, but this week they should be able to score enough to gain a road win in the Black Hole vs Oakland and move to 5-3 at their halfway point of the season.

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