The Week 2 match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos is one of the more intriguing of the young NFL season. Both teams had solid performances in their respective wins in Week 1, with plenty of story lines generated during the games.
For the Broncos, the return of Peyton Manning was the talk of the town, and he didn’t disappoint, playing well but still showing a little rust which will certainly fade as the season wears on. The Falcons were highlighted by a first-class performance by Julio Jones, who could easily have a breakout season and start to establish himself as one of the league’s best young wide receiving talents.
Both teams will obviously be pass-happy during the 2012 season and one of the more interesting things to watch on Sunday will be whether the Falcons or the Broncos can find success in balancing an effective run game with the pass. For Denver– as almost always seems to be the case–it will mean sharing carries between several backs including Willis McGahee, Lance Ball, Knowshon Moreno, and Ronnie Hillman. Michael Turner and Jason Snelling will be sharing the carries on the other side of the ball for the Falcons.
While it may be too simplified to say so, if one of these two teams can establish the run early on to predicate the pass off of its success, that team should come out on top in what is a very equal match-up on paper.
Matt Ryan has improved incrementally over the course of the past few seasons and if his Week 1 performance is any indication, he is at the top of his game. With the weapons he has at his disposal this is a very dangerous scenario for defenses across the NFL. On the flip side, Peyton Manning is, well, Peyton Manning.
The Broncos receiving corps should be one of the more surprising in pro football this season with Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Jacob Tamme all looking more than capable. In fact, Thomas could be right up there with Julio Jones in terms of raw, shapeable talent.
The Broncos defense was stout in Week 1 and will be looking to exert its influence early and often. If they can manage to force an early turnover, or put enough pressure on Ryan to keep him on his heels, the Broncos could quickly set the tone and change the course of the game. If either Manning or Ryan, however, can sit in the pocket and use their weapons with ease we could have a shootout on our hands.
This one is a tough call straight up because of the similarity of the two teams. As a snap guess, I’ll give the Falcons a slight edge under the Monday Night Football lights at the Georgia Dome.
Prediction: Falcons 31, Broncos 28
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
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