If you ever wanted to see a clinic on how to run a no-huddle offense in the NFL, then tune into ESPN’s Monday Night Football this week, and watch the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos, because Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning are two of the best in the league in running a no-huddle.
A rejuvenated Manning is bringing the Broncos (1-0) into the Georgia Dome for an inter-conference showdown with the Falcons (1-0), and by all accounts, it should be an offensive masterpiece on both sides.
Ryan has a plethora of weapons, and he showed last week against the Kansas City Chiefs that he’s not afraid to use them, as he completed 23 passes to six different receivers. Both Roddy White and Julio Jones had big days, each of them catching six passes for a total of 195 yards between them.
But the Falcons offensive line is going to face a much bigger challenge against Denver, with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil both being prolific pass rushers, and the Falcons receivers will be blanketed by two quality corners in Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter.
Atlanta is also facing the demons of their wretched record when appearing on Monday Night Football, coupled with Peyton Manning’s nearly impeccable record in the showcase game of the week.
Both teams are going to want to control the tempo of the game, and keep their defenses off the field, while still utilizing their primary weapon, the no-huddle offense. Look for Manning to really test a depleted Atlanta secondary, which is minus starting cornerback Brent Grimes, who is out for the remainder of the season.
The Falcons are going to want to run the ball more than they did against the Chiefs, but will more than likely not abandon their new-found love with the short to medium passing attack. As much as Atlanta fans might want to see Michael Turner pounding the ball between the tackles, they will probably witness a bigger dose of what they saw last week, with Jacquizz Rodgers getting the touches rushing the ball and catching passes out of the backfield.
Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is of the opinion that Rodgers can be a 3-down back, and Monday’s game may mark a changing of the guard in Atlanta’s running attack.
Atlanta needs to get off to a quick start and get ahead early by a couple of scores, so that even a patented Manning comeback will fall short of a victory for the Broncos.
This game will also mark the return of former Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking to the Georgia Dome for the first time since not being re-signed by the Falcons after the 2008 season. It will be interesting to see how many Atlanta fans remember Brooking’s childish antics after the Dallas Cowboys – who Brooking was playing for at the time – defeated the Falcons at Cowboys Stadium in 2009.
The Falcons are favored by three. Take Atlanta and the points. The Falcons will win their first Monday night game since 2005, and topple the Broncos 35-31.