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32
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Atlanta 7 10 0 15 32
Houston 7 9 17 20 53
53
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET17:00 GMT1:00 10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST12:00 PM CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00 , October 6, 2019
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 71,787

Falcons-Texans Preview

According to STATS
According to STATS

Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans

  1. The home team has won each of the four previous meetings between these teams, with the Falcons earning a 48-21 victory over Houston in Atlanta in the most recent matchup in 2015. The Texans are one of three teams, along with the Steelers and Ravens, whom the Falcons have never defeated on the road.
  2. The Falcons are 1-11 against the AFC since Oct. 23, 2016, the worst winning percentage in interconference games during that period. Atlanta's six straight interconference losses is its longest skid against the AFC since it lost seven in a row from Oct. 3, 1999-Dec. 3, 2000.
  3. Atlanta's Julio Jones (8891) and Houston's DeAndre Hopkins (7696) rank second and third, respectively, among NFL players in receiving yards since Hopkins entered the league in 2013. Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 receiving yards, doing so in 115 games, during Atlanta's Week 4 loss to Tennessee.
  4. DeShaun Watson has thrown 221 consecutive passes without an interception at home, the longest streak in franchise history. Watson has been picked off just three times overall in 14 games since Week 7 of last season. Among quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts over that span, only Aaron Rodgers (2) has thrown fewer interceptions.
  5. The Falcons have not forced a turnover in all three of their losses this season, and they're 2-9 since Oct. 1, 2017 when failing to record a takeaway. Among NFC teams, only the 49ers (13) have had more games with zero takeaways during that period.
  6. Whitney Mercilus is the second player in Texans history to record at least one sack in each of the season's first four games (Antonio Smith, 2011). Mercilus has forced at least one fumble in three straight games, one shy of teammate J.J. Watt's team record set from Dec. 2-23, 2012.
Team Comparison

Atlanta
 
Houston
17.5 Points 19.5
331.3 Pass Yds 234.5
70.3 Rush Yds 120.3
3 Takeaways 6
(AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Deshaun Watson and Matt Ryan are about to face off as NFL quarterbacks for the first time.

When the Houston Texans host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Watson and Ryan will compete as peers. That's just how Watson imagined it when he first met Ryan in 2010.

Watson was a freshman at Gainesville High School, 10 miles north of the Falcons' complex in Flowery Branch, Georgia, when he got a job as a ball boy. He developed a quick friendship with Ryan, learning about big-time football long before he left to star at Clemson.

As a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, Watson participated in a program started by Falcons owner Arthur Blank and was given all sorts of tasks with the team.

"I did the equipment, washed the laundry, I threw to all the receivers, threw with Matt Ryan, watched him throw, did some of the water stuff, helped Arthur Blank out," Watson said. "I did pretty much everything. I was there for four years and kind of got the whole experience. It was awesome to be able to watch everything, watch the walkthroughs, watch the practices and learn."

He looks forward to seeing Ryan, receiver Julio Jones and other Falcons employees still with the team.

"Me looking up to all those guys, it was special because they helped me pave the way to the position that I'm in today," he said.

Ryan remembers that time well.

"Geez, it feels like just yesterday that he was here launching balls to our receivers during training camp," Ryan said. "He'd always be down at the Dome on Sundays after games and before games helping out. It's been amazing to watch his career in college and now in the NFL. I'm happy for him. I'm proud of him. He's a great player and a great competitor and he's had a great career so far."

Ryan never saw him play in high school, but he heard all about it as Watson led Gainesville to a state title and set a few state records for yards passing and touchdowns.

"We had a bunch of players from Gainesville that came down and worked," Ryan said. "They would come in sometimes on Saturdays. They were around quite a bit. We definitely followed the Red Elephants, man. We followed 'em while they were rolling at Gainesville."

Here are a few other things to look for as the Falcons (1-3) visit Houston (2-2):

TURNOVER TIME

The Texans have forced a turnover in 17 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL and one that ranks second in franchise history. Houston, which had three strip sacks last week, is tied for second in the league with eight forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus is a big reason for Houston's success. His four forced fumbles are tied with Khalil Mack for most in the NFL, and Mercilus also has an interception.

"We got three last game, and we want to continue to get those," star defensive end J.J. Watt said. "The more that we can get - whether it's putting up points, whether it's giving the ball back to our offense so they can put up points, however we can help contribute to win the game - that's our goal."

AILING LINE

The Texans were flat on offense last week and lost 16-10 at home to Carolina and a backup quarterback, but the matchup against Ryan is seemingly in their favor.

Atlanta has dropped two straight and is coming off a 24-10 setback at home to Tennessee. It was an ugly outing offensively as Ryan couldn't sustain drives behind a makeshift line. The outlook doesn't look much better this week.

Six-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack has a serious elbow injury from the Titans game. If he can't play, reserve guard Wes Schweitzer will start at center. He entered in the first quarter when right guard Jamon Brown, who's filling in with Chris Lindstrom on injured reserve, suffered a concussion. Schweitzer moved to center before Mack returned.

The Falcons failed to convert on three of four fourth-down chances and were 36 percent on third down.

CLEAN POCKET

Houston still hasn't found a way to consistently protect Watson. Despite trading for left tackle Laremy Tunsil and drafting right tackle Tytus Howard in the first round and left guard Max Scharping in the second, Watson is getting hit too much for the third straight year.

The Texans have allowed 18 sacks, tied for third most in the NFL. They gave up a league-high 62 sacks last year and ranked second worst in 2017.

NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE

Falcons coach Dan Quinn wasn't exactly keen to discuss the last game he coached at Houston, where the Falcons infamously blew a 28-3 lead and lost the Super Bowl to New England three seasons ago.

"I would say if it was February, and we were playing New England, that would be an interesting story," he said. "For me, right now, we're going back to a building and going to try and get our football right. Fair question to ask, but for us it is only about right now. Whether it's past, or anything different, it's just about this team attacking right now."

BAD TREND

The Falcons have lost six straight and 12 of 13 to AFC opponents.

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AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Updated October 3, 2019

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