clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Not even the NFL's No. 1 offense will be able to get past Denver's D

It's not that the Atlanta Falcons won't be a huge challenge for the Broncos. It's that they won't be the same team when they play the Broncos.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

I am not one to panic. I mean, Hurricane Matthew is headed my way but I've got reinforcements:

So I'm also not panicking about the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.

Since before the Broncos touched down in Denver last Sunday night, analysts were already fretting over "how will the Broncos ever stop a steamrolling offense like the Falcons?" And they kept wondering "how the Broncos defense could possibly handle a Matt Ryan-Julio Jones duo that connected for 500 yards against the Panthers?"

Easy. That's how.

Because analysts keep forgetting what this Broncos defense does.

It breaks people.

Not their bodies but their spirits. It beats opponents down, doing it slowly at first to lull them into thinking there's no attack. Then it pounces. Finally, it slays.

The Falcons' offensive stats are worth paying attention to. They have the No. 1 passing offense in the league with Ryan throwing the best among all QBs (1,473 yards with a 72.1 percent completion rating), the top receiver for yards by Jones (488), and the No. 7 running back for yards in Devonta Freeman (322).

And thanks to Andrew Mason's hard-earned research below -€” in which the Falcons' offense doesn't fall below top six in any offensive category and is the top team in seven categories -€” it's easy to see why some still can't believe:

  • Points per game: 1 (38.0)
  • Yardage per game: 1 (478.8)
  • Yardage per play: 1 (7.48)
  • First-down rate: 1 (one every 2.785 plays)
  • Passing yardage per game: 1 (354.3)
  • Yardage per pass play: 1 (9.51)
  • First-down rate -- pass: 1 (one every 2.29 plays)
  • Rushing yardage per game: 6 (124.5)
  • Yardage per rush: 4 (4.65)
  • First-down rate -- run: 4 (one every 3.82 plays)
  • Turnovers per game: T-3 (0.5 per game)

But they are the same people who didn't think Broncos could win the Super Bowl with a No. 1 defense. They are the same people who only started giving the Broncos a chance for repeating as world champs last week when the team remained one of three teams undefeated.

So let's remind them a few defensive stats as well:

  • Broncos are 9-0 since the playoffs, neutralizing such offensive powerhouses as the Steelers, the Patriots and the Panthers.
  • Offenses are scoring almost 10 points less than their average when they face the Broncos defense
  • Von Miller leads the NFL in sacks so far this season (5.5) while Derek Wolfe is tied for third (4)
  • Broncos lead the league in total sacks at 17
  • Aqib Talib has three interceptions, one of which he has taken to the house

"It's just how we play them," linebacker Brandon Marshall told Mason. "I think we're totally different than anybody else. When you count a so-called juggernaut offense, when they play our defense, I feel like you can't look them as the same because of how we play them, how we dictate the tempo, and how we dictate what we do."

It's not that Atlanta won't be a threat.

It's just how we play [teams]. When you count a so-called juggernaut offense, when they play our defense, you can't look at them the same.  -Brandon Marshall

It's that they won't be the same against the Broncos.

When Ryan can't find any open receivers immediately, he will either throw it away or hold on too long, in which case Miller and Co. will be waiting.

And if the offensive line takes care of Miller on one edge, someone has to account for DeMarcus Ware/Shane Ray/Shaquil Barrett on the other.

If Freeman or Ryan tries to run up the middle, they'll have to contend with Derek Wolfe or Sly Williams in the middle. And even if an offense manages to get around this D once, they won't be doing it again.

"It always motivates us to go out there each week and shut down our opponent," said Darian Stewart. "Every week we have a new task and this week they happen to be the No. 1 passing offense, so that's a big task for us and it's our duty to go out there and shut it down."

All the same, though, it's good to hear coaches and players saying the right things and respecting what the Falcons will be bringing on the ground and in the air on Sunday at Mile High.

"I see an explosive offense," said Miller of this weekend's opponent. "I see a quarterback that is making all of the right decisions and all of the right throws. I see a comfortable quarterback. I see a solid offensive line and one of the best running backs in the National Football League. You've got to give the tight ends some love, too."

I see an explosive offense. ...I see a comfortable offense. ...I see one of the best running backs in the National Football League. ...And Julio has been killing it since day one."  -Von Miller

And Miller definitely gave his old SEC pal Julio Jones credit for what he's done.

"Julio, he's been killing it since Day 1," said Miller. "Hopefully we are be able to slow him down a little bit come game time."

But it's also good to hear these defensive players getting fired up.

"We lick our chops every week," said T.J. Ward. "This is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and put another performance on film. It doesn't matter who we get week-to-week. We want to do our best so it doesn't matter who's coming in here."

Like I said, easy.

Let's make that, easy-peasy, orange-crush-squeezy.

Horse Tracks

Donald Stephenson, Virgil Green closing in on return to Broncos lineup - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
The Broncos see hope for their running game now that Donald Stephenson and Virgil Green are back on the practice field.

For Denver Broncos, many players have hand in victories - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
The Broncos have used young players in key spots during their ongoing nine-game win streak, with rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch the most notable.

Five things you should know: Falcons' dominance; Von Miller and Derek Wolfe's synergy, and more
Atlanta's offense is a "big, big challenge," and the Broncos' hopes of containing it start with Derek Wolfe and Von Miller.

Broncos face a winning team in streaking Falcons. Is this Denver's toughest test?
Despite facing, and fending off, formidable passers in Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston, Denver's defense will face its stiffest threat against the Falcons.

'Nothing has changed' for Broncos' Aqib Talib after investigation end - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib insists that nothing has changed since the Dallas police department wrapped up its investigation of his June shooting.

Broncos set to evaluate DeMarcus Ware's recovery from fractured forearm - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos lead the league in sacks, yet they still eagerly await the return of outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to the lineup.

Von Miller's spin move a shout-out to Dwight Freeney
Von Miller, who leads the NFL with 5.5 sacks this season, credits Dwight Freeney for teaching him the move responsible for "a lot" of takedowns.

Rookie Diaries: 'A lot of meat left on the bone'
Rookie safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks discuss the weather delay in Tampa, the way the team handles injuries and leadership in the locker room.

Watch: Trevor Siemian limited in practice Thursday, took a ‘step forward’ in recovery | Broncos Wire
Denver Broncos QB Trevor Siemian (sore shoulder) was limited in practice Thursday. It's unclear if he'll play against the Atlanta Falcons.

What Broncos coaches have seen in Paxton Lynch: The good, the bad and everything in between – The Denver Post
Lynch's natural talent exceeds that of many rookie quarterbacks, and his improvement in the Broncos’ offense has been noticeable -- in practices and last Sunday, when he closed out a victory at Tampa Bay.

Kubiak: Stopping Julio Jones 'the ultimate challenge' -
Gary Kubiak and the Broncos face the daunting task of defending Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones on Sunday. Kubiak said the impending matchup is "the ultimate challenge."

Falcons lose three OTA practices due to 2016 violations -
The Falcons will be docked three days of Organized Team Activities in the spring of 2017 due to a violation of offseason workout rules in May of this past year, the league announced on Thursday.

Antonio Brown fined again for end zone celebration -
Antonio Brown has been fined $24,309 for his touchdown dance against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, a source informed of the fine told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Thursday.

Cam Newton remains in concussion protocol -
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton remains in the concussion protol and didn't practice Thursday. The door remains open for Derek Anderson to start Monday against the Bucs if Cam isn't available.

NFL builds contingency plan for 'Fins, Panthers games -
The NFL is planning for the possibility that this week's games at Miami and Carolina will not be played as scheduled due to Hurricane Matthew.