The Falcons are a rarity: a power team that prefers to play indoors. Matt Ryan has gone 15-1 in the Dome and 17-4 in all domes. This week they'll play in one of their blessedly few colder-than-Atlanta regular season games, even though it's supposed to be 64 degrees and sunny on game day, or three degrees colder than it was here yesterday. Negligible!
Comparing resumes: The Browns lost their first three games by one score each before beating the Bengals by three. Nobody knows if the Bengals are any good, because this is the NFL and nothing ever makes sense except for about five minutes during the Super Bowl halftime show when we can all agree they should just let Prince do it every year.
The Falcons blew away the Cardinals, but their other three games could've gone either way. Two went the right way, so the Birds get the edge here.
Browns to watch:
Scrappy blocking fullback (sorry, don't know why I keep calling him that) running back Peyton Hillis has more than twice as many yards from scrimmage as any other Brown. The 250-pound cannonball has hands, with 16 catches for 94 yards. The Falcons couldn't shut down Frank Gore, but they did manage to funnel the entire 49er offense through him, ensuring no big plays by anybody else. That may be more doable this week, with the Browns lacking anybody of Vernon Davis' caliber.
If we don't wrap up Hillis, it's gonna be a long day. Here he is breaking a Rams tackle. No, not a specific Rams player. More like the entire defense:
Their strength appears to be their defense, though they do give up more than their share of yards. Expect to hear headhunter safety T.J. Ward's name called frequently, as he's tied for 11th in the league in tackles. Some of his most terrifying wallops, from his college days:
Vegas says: Falcons by 3. All signs point to this being a low-scoring deal, but Cleveland's "Dawg Pound" home field advantage is significantly overrated. They've only won five more games at home than on the road over the past ten seasons. Then again, they've only had two winning seasons in that span, so five is kind of a lot.