cloudy
Monday May 25th, 2015 11:40AM

Falcons seek to warm up against Bills in Toronto

By The Associated Press
TORONTO -- "Matty Ice" might be in for a nickname change after the Falcons quarterback acknowledged he's no fan of cold weather.

Matt Ryan made the not-so-surprising revelation upon hearing how the warm-weather Falcons (2-9) will avoid the wintry elements in Buffalo on Sunday. They'll instead face the Bills (4-7) in Toronto's climate-controlled, domed Rogers Centre in Buffalo's annual "home" game north of the border.

"Buffalo is supposed to get hammered with snow today, so it is good it's in a dome," Ryan said Wednesday.

Just don't try to get him to suggest the setting provides an edge to Atlanta, a team accustomed to playing indoors, and which is 0-5 on the road this season.

"I think it's an advantage for both teams, to be honest with you," Ryan said.

It was a diplomatic response that runs contrary to what Bills players believe after watching the snow pile up outside Ralph Wilson Stadium.

As receiver Stevie Johnson suggested: "They must have fixed the schedule or something out there in Atlanta. It's supposed to be out here at the Ralph."

Coming off their bye week still on the fringes of the AFC playoff race, the Bills will begin their late-season push at a neutral setting that lacks the blustery and raucous atmosphere at Orchard Park, N.Y. The Toronto games don't sell out, and fans who do attend aren't all Bills supporters.

That's the break the Falcons, who have lost five straight, should get during a season in which little has gone right for a team that went from preseason Super Bowl contenders to the first team eliminated from playoff contention.

"We'll anticipate going into where it's going to be really loud and difficult for us to communicate," Ryan said.

He laughed when informed there usually isn't much noise in the cavernous stadium.

"Well, OK," Ryan said. "We're going to prepare for it just in case. But thanks for the heads-up."

Here's five more things to watch for:

HEALTHY BILLS: For the first time this season, Bills coach Doug Marrone isn't ruling out anyone due to injury.

Johnson, who missed one game with a groin injury, and fellow receiver Robert Woods, who missed two with a sprained ankle, are set to return. The week off also provided running backs C.J. Spiller (ankle) and Fred Jackson (knee) additional time to heal.

Marrone dismissed a question about whether any players had any setbacks during practice.

"Nope," he said. "Don't jinx us."

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (back), listed as questionable, was a late addition to the injury report.

LIMPING FALCONS: Injuries have played a significant role in the Falcons' struggles this year. They have four starters on injured reserve, including leading receiver Julio Jones (foot). Other regulars have also missed time, including receiver Roddy White, running back Steven Jackson and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

"We've been in ballgames with the guys that we've had out there. We just haven't made the plays," Ryan said. "But it's certainly tough to replace those guys."

CROWDING THE LINE: Ryan has noticed opposing defenses crowding the line of scrimmage since Jones, his deep threat, sustained a season-ending foot injury on Oct. 7.

Ryan's numbers have dropped, too. He's thrown 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, two short of matching his career high. He faces an attacking defense that is tied for the NFL lead with 16 interceptions and 37 sacks.

Upon expressing relief to be playing indoors, Ryan added: "Then you turn on the film and watch the Bills' defense and realize that there is no break."

ON THE RUN: Spiller said his ankle feels at its best since he sprained it in Week 4. That gives Spiller belief he might finally be ready to "rock and roll," as he put it, after combining for 29 yards rushing in his past two games.

The indoor setting and Atlanta's porous run defense might help, too.

Atlanta ranks 28th against the run, and has allowed an average 149 yards rushing over its past eight.

FORD FACTOR: Marrone was unaware of the headline-grabbing international attention Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has attracted since admitting to smoking crack cocaine while he was in a drunken stupor.

"Really?" Marrone said. "Last time I checked that's illegal, so hopefully he can find a way to help himself."

Ford, an avid football fan, could well be in attendance Sunday.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Falcons fire offensive, defensive line coaches
The Atlanta Falcons have fired defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn.
7:02PM ( 1 year ago )
Best, worst of Falcons' 4-12 season
Best Game: They'd been eliminated from playoff contention previous week vs. New Orleans, but the Falcons showed some heart with Dec. 1 overtime victory over Bills in Toronto.
6:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Gonzalez's career ends with another Falcons loss
Tony Gonzalez is ready for the next chapter of his life.
9:47PM ( 1 year ago )
Professional Sports
Big Red championship vets hope Gainesville can get back to promised land this week
Wayne Vickery coached his way to five state championships with Gainesville baseball -- and the outgoing Gainesville High athletic director sees similarities between one of those title winners and the 2015 squad.
3:00PM ( 3 hours from now )
Hawks cry foul over Horford's ejection from Game 3
CLEVELAND (AP) — Al Horford threw an elbow at Matthew Dellavedova during the game.He saved a few more shots for Cleveland's scrappy guard afterward.Horford was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul and tossed fr...
1:51AM ( 9 hours ago )
Fuel mileage gamble gives Edwards Charlotte victory
Carl Edwards rolled the dice and came up a winner as he stretched out his fuel just enough to cover the 600-mile distance to snap a 31-race winless streak and collect his first victory of the season in Sunday night’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
By Pete McCole
12:51AM ( 10 hours ago )
Foltynewicz pitches into 8th, Braves beat Brewers 2-1
Atlanta rookie Mike Foltynewicz had command of his pitches, and that gave him the edge he needed to top Jimmy Nelson and the Milwaukee Brewers.
11:25PM ( 12 hours ago )
Montoya earns second career Indianapolis 500 victory
Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and held off reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and teammate Will Power by 0.1046 of a second – the fourth-closest finish in race history – in a thrilling final 15 laps of the historic race.
By IndyCar Media
11:04PM ( 12 hours ago )