The Denver Broncos have been as advertised on the defensive side of the ball this season. Holding opponents to 16 points per game is exactly what the team needs. The offense has been given the opportunity to grow and flourish on the back of a defense that imposes its will on every game.
Now the Falcons will look to put a dent in the Broncos armor, and possibly expose the flaws of this stellar unit. The ugly truth is how mediocre Denver has been against the run. Ranking 21st in the league in rushing yards per game may be the achilles heel that eventually leads to a loss. The No Fly Zone has been unflappable, and the pass rush has been a big part of that. However, the big issue against Atlanta might not be what you think.
Julio Jones and Matt Ryan put up some Madden numbers in their week 4 match-up against the broken Carolina Panthers. The perception is that it will be a battle between that duo and the Broncos secondary. The truth is much different. The defensive line is where the game will be won. Derek Wolfe, Jared Crick, Sylvester Williams, Adam Gotsis. Can those guys impose their will on the running attack of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Slowing down this high powered offense will be the biggest test of the season for a Broncos defense that is attempting to build on a historic run from 2015. It will take a mammoth effort from the boys up front to ensure that Atlanta doesn’t run wild in Denver.
The defensive line will need to shut down the running attack, and get Matt Ryan off his spot. If the defense continues to allow big runs up the middle, and can’t push Ryan out of the pocket into the waiting arms of Von Miller, Shaq Barrett, and Shane Ray, Julio Jones will have big chances.
It can be done. Atlanta only looked like world beaters against a Panthers team that seems to have had its soul stolen. However, these are the kinds of games that make you worry. Momentum can swing wildly, and it can carry a team to unbelievable places.
That was the story for Atlanta against the Panthers. The Wolfe is going to have to howl. The guys in the trenches will have to put their mark on the game. They will be in charge of putting the hammer down on any momentum swings. If not, it could be a long day in Denver.