After a much-needed bye week, the LA Chargers will be flying across the country in Week 9 to take on the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are much better than anyone could have expected with an NFC South-leading 4-4 record.
While Atlanta has a quality record, they are still a team that the Chargers should beat on paper (hence why the Chargers are favored). They rank 20th in total DVOA and are second to last in defensive DVOA, only ahead of the Detroit Lions.
All that being said, the Falcons can run the ball as they rank fifth in total rushing yards and eighth in rushing touchdowns this season. The Chargers rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per attempt (5.7).
Atlanta's rushing attack is also getting a timely boost ahead of this Week 9 matchup against the Chargers, as Cordarelle Patterson has been designated to return from the injured reserve and will likely make his return to action this Sunday against the Bolts.
Cordarelle Patterson makes the Falcons a much tougher team to beat for the Chargers.
Atlanta already poses an interesting matchup with the team's commitment to running the ball and the Chargers' weakness in that department. That being said, while they will pound the ball down your throat, Atlanta does not have that big-play running back that is likely to break something off against this Chargers' defense.
Now they do. Despite running the ball a lot, Atlanta ranks just 15th in the league in yards per attempt and a big reason why is that Patterson has been out. Patterson has averaged an absurd 5.9 yards per carry this season while Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley combined for 4.2 yards per carry. That is a massive difference.
Atlanta would have pounded the football a lot with Allgeier and Huntley anyway and as long as the team could stop Marcus Mariota from burning them, they probably would have been in good shape. However, with Patterson back in the fold, Atlanta's rushing attack is even more dynamic and is a threat to run all over this Chargers' defense.
This is as big of an injury return that this game could have and as it has all season, it directly hurts the LA Chargers. It will be up to Brandon Staley and Renaldo Hill to properly game plan against Patterson to keep this rushing attack at bay as the team cannot afford a loss to the Falcons in Week 9.