If you are a fan of defensive football, then you might want to go see a movie on Monday night when the Denver Broncos take on the Atlanta Falcons. Both the Broncos and the Falcons have good defenses but it probably will not be apparent this coming Monday. The Falcons put up 40 points in their season opening win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and once the Broncos went to the no huddle they were never stopped in their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The no huddle is the overriding theme heading into the game, both teams like to run it and both teams run it very well. Peyton Manning is the first quarterback to turn the no huddle into a regular offense, and he showed on Sunday night that a year away from the game has not slowed him down. The Broncos struggled on offense until shifting into the no huddle in the second quarter, and scored on every possession after that. It’s a safe bet that the Broncos will not wait that long when they travel to Georgia on Monday night. The Falcons are without their best cornerback in Brent Grimes. It will take Manning about thirty seconds to go after the player who takes Grimes place.
The two keys for the Broncos will be running the ball just enough and protection. The Falcons have a very good pass rush, and it is even better at home. If the Broncos can protect Manning, he should have a big night throwing the football. The Broncos also had success running the football out of the no huddle versus the Steelers, and they will want to keep the Falcons honest. Look for Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno to run the ball when the Falcons are spread out, and waiting for the pass. The Broncos will also want to keep the Falcons offense off of the field, and they can do that with the running game.
On the other sideline, the Falcons have a ton of weapons and will put up points of their own. It appears as if quarterback, Matt Ryan has taken the next step. He was fantastic in the win over the Chiefs and he has two special wide receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White. The Broncos secondary is improved but they will have their hands full on Monday night. In addition to the speed on the outside, the Falcons have tight end Tony Gonzalez over the middle. Gonzalez is a little older but he can still get open and beat one on one coverage. The linebackers for the Broncos struggled with the tight end last week; this is a key matchup for both sides.
The Falcons do not run the ball as well as the Broncos, Michael Turner is not the same back he was two or three years ago. As with Manning and the Broncos offense, the best way to slow down the Falcons is with a consistent pass rush. This is a game where Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller and Derek Wolfe need to be huge factors. They don’t have to sack Ryan every time but they must harass him, and make him uncomfortable in the pocket.
It seems like when games are expected to be shootouts, they often don’t turn out that way but this one should. Both teams like to play fast and run as many plays as possible. With all of that said, it will probably be the team that makes that one big defensive play that walks out with a 2-0 record. Get all your drinks and snacks ready to go early, you do not want to miss a single play in this one.
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