Last week the Atlanta Falcons routed our division rival Chiefs, to a score of 40 to 24. Matt Ryan had a great game. Ryan went 23 of 31 for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Falcons weren't very strong on the ground though. They carried the ball for a total of 84 yards on 23 carres(3.6 YPC). Leading the way on the ground was Michael Turner who was held to 32 yards on 11 carries. The Falcons receivers are pretty good. Roddy White and Julio Jones are among, if not the best WR Duo in the league. Last week Jones had a great game. Jones totaled 6 receptions for 108 yards and 2 TD's. Roddy White didn't disappoint either. White totaled 6 receptions for 87 yards. Bronco killer, Tony Gonzalez also contributed with 5 receptions for 53 yards.
Now lets take a look at the complete starting unit for the Atlanta Falcons...
QB: Matt Ryan
RB: Michael Turner
FB: Lousaka Polite
WR's: Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Harry Douglas
TE: Tony Gonzalez
OL: LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Todd McClure, RG Garrett Reynolds, RT Tyson Clabo
Ryan is one of the better younger Quarterbacks in the NFL. Ryan entering his 5th season in the NFL, and he started off 2012 well with a 40-24 win at Kansas City last Sunday. Ryan will need to have another solid performance if he wants to out duel opposing QB Peyton Manning. If Ryan wants to be successful Monday night, he will need too not turn the ball over, and avoid the Broncos relentless pass rush. Ryan figures to target the up and coming 2nd year player Julio Jones and vet Roddy White. Ryan is a good QB, so the Broncos defense will have another test in this young season
He's baaack! Peyton Manning shredded the strong Steelers defensive unit Sunday Night. The Falcons defense is not nearly as good as the Steelers, but don't fall asleep on them. Manning will need to have a efficient, mistake free game to keep the explosive Falcons offense off the field. The Falcons secondary is weaker after top CB Brent Grimes was placed on the IR. That will leave Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson in coverage. I'm feeling good about that matchup. I expect Manning to have an even better game this week
The Running Backs:
This used to be a strength for the once run heavy Falcons, but now the running game has taken a backseat. Micheal Turner has lost a step or two over the last few seasons, and isn't nearly as explosive as he once was. However, he's still a large man who can push the pile, and pound for those tough yards. His backup Jacquizz Rodgers is only 5'6 196lbs, so he shouldnt be much of a threat on the ground. Overall, i dont think the running game will give the Broncos much fits, but anything can happen
Willis McGahee had a solid performance last week against a stout Steelers run defense. He carried the ball 16 times for 64 yards(4 YPC). I expect him to have a solid game against the Falcons D. Last week the Falcons gave up 152 total yards on the ground on 33 carries(4.6YPC). I would expect a solid dose of McGahee/Moreno/Ball. If the Broncos can have a solid day on the ground, it would allow Peyton Manning work the defense with the play action.
The Falcons WR unit is my biggest concern. Julio Jones is turning into a very good WR, and Roddy White is already a very good WR. Third WR Harry Douglas is also a solid contributor. If Matt Ryan is given time and is able to hit his WR's, the Broncos could be in trouble. The Broncos will have to be better tacklers this week, especially against these two. Both of whom can break a tackle, and rack up the YAC. It will be another tough test for CB's Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter.
I expect a big game from Both DT and Decker. As i said earlier, the Falcons will be without their best, and very good CB Brent Grimes. That leaves Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson. Samuel is a good corner, but takes risks, and does get burned. I think Peyton will work him Monday night. Also both Thomas and Decker and big matchup problems for both corners. So it will be interesting to see if the Falcons will be able to consistently cover both WR's. I expect Stokley/Willis/Caldwell to both contribute in the slot. Falcons are thin at CB, so we could see a lot of 3/4/5 WR sets.
Gonzo is a Bronco killer. He was a pain in the you know what for the Broncos when he was a member of the Chiefs. He isn't the same TE he used to be, but he's still a red zone threat, and will challenge you in the middle of the field. The Broncos do struggle to cover the Tight end, so look for Gonzo to be a main target for Matt Ryan.
I think Tamme and Dreessen will be targeted more this week. Again the Falcons will be without their top corner, so alot of attention will on Decker and DT. That leaves LB's and Safeties to cover both TE's. When you have Peyton Manning at QB, that's a huge matchup problem for the Falcons. Dreessen will be important in the run game again. He played well last week. Tamme probably will be used all over the field, and will(hopefully) be a problem for the Falcons.
I'm not too familiar with the Falcons O-Line, but i do know that they're a solid unit. They only allowed 1 sack last week, but didn't give much push in the run game. Probably their best O-Linemen is RT Tyson Clabo. Clabo originally signed with Denver as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2004. He's a big man, and will be a force in the run game.
I was impressed with the Broncos O-Line last week. Yes there was some early sacks, but they adjusted, and Manning wasn't really pressured for much of the game. The Falcons pass rush isn't nearly as strong as the Steelers. 34 year DE John Abraham is their best pass rusher. Ray Edwards will lineup opposite of Abraham and will try to bring down Manning. Like most weeks, both Tackles Clady and Franklin will need to have solid games. If the Broncos want to be solid on the ground, the interior of the OL need to have a solid game.