The Buffalo Bills face the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons on the road Sunday, the team's most difficult test thus far in the 2017 season.
Buffalo's entire defensive unit will be challenged facing a club renowned for its explosive offense, but Atlanta also possesses some quality players on defense.
Here's an advanced-stat preview that will help you understand what exactly the Bills are up against in Week Four.
(Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)
Julio Jones is the headliner in Atlanta, as he should be. He's currently fourth in yards per route run (2.98), the ultimate efficiency metric for wideouts. Jones led the league last year with a YPRR of 3.15, and in 2015, the former Alabama standout had a yards-per-route-run figure of 3.05 which was the best among qualifying receivers.
After facing back-to-back quarterbacks who went into their game against Buffalo with clear struggles against pressure, there hasn't been that big of a disparity in Matt Ryan's effectiveness when pressured or not.
Through four games, he's amassed a passer rating of 103.2 when "kept clean." When pressured, Ryan's passer rating is 88.1. That's not a huge gap. It's still early, but there was bound to be a regression from Ryan's MVP season of a year ago when his passer rating was 128.9 when kept clean, the best figure in the league.
It's not all about the aerial attack in Atlanta though. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman formulate one of the league's finest one-two punches in the backfield. Here's how they've performed forcing missed tackles thus far in the 2017 campaign:
Devonta Freeman: 59 touches, 11 missed tackles forced (0 receiving)
Tevin Coleman: 29 touches, 4 missed tackles forced (2 rushing, 2 receiving)
Freeman is the smooth, gliding runner, an ideal fit for the Falcons zone-blocking scheme. Coleman is the thunderous, more linear runner who plays with much more power than finesse. He's a talented receiver too.
Dan Quinn and Co. have slowly but surely acquired the smaller, faster type of defenders to fit the Falcons scheme and today's NFL.
In February's Super Bowl, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett dominated with five quarterback pressures (three sacks, one hit, one hurry) on 46 pass-rushing snaps. He's carried over that strong play into 2017, and his new teammate, Dontari Poe, has been tremendous on the interior as well.
Here's how Jarrett and Poe have performed as pass-rushers through four games (rank is out of 74 defensive tackles):
Grady Jarrett: 105 pass-rush snaps, 9 QB pressures (29th)
Dontari Poe: 91 pass-rush snaps, 12 QB pressures (9th)
With 2016 sack-leader Vic Beasley sidelined with injury, Atlanta's other defensive linemen had to pick up the slack, and they certainly have.
Rookie Tak McKinley has 12 quarterback pressures of his own on 83 pass-rush snaps, and veteran Adrian Clayborn has recorded 11 on 86 pass-rush snaps from the right side.
Star cornerback Desmond Trufant has surrendered just 0.62 yards per coverage snap, the 11th-lowest out of 68 qualifying players at the position. He's a 6-foot, 190-pound former first-round pick who's been reliable for the majority of his NFL career.