In what is sure to be a barnbuner in Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons (1-0) play host in their home opener to the Denver Broncos (1-0) on Monday Night Football.
After traveling to Kansas City and taking care of the Chiefs decidedly, Matt Ryan and the Falcons look to keep the momentum going behind the Georgia Dome crowd. However, Peyton Manning’s Broncos are riding high as well after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mile High.
The Falcons hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to implement an aggressive passing attack along with a screen game. Last week against the Chiefs, Koetter looked to be a smart hire. The Falcons, led by Ryan’s arm, drove down the field several times; in fact, they scored on their first eight possessions. Phenom wide receiver Julio Jones even scored on a screen from 14 yards out.
There was also talk of limiting Michael Turner’s carries. Since signing with Atlanta in 2008, Turner has had less than 301 carries once, and that was mostly because he missed five games due to injury in 2009.
Against the Chiefs, Turner only touched the ball 11 times for 32 yards.
The Falcons have said they were going to monitor Turner’s carries before, but it seems like they’re serious this time; this team is Ryan’s, and a new pass to set up the run philosophy has been implemented. And when you have the weapons the Falcons have on the outside in Jones and Roddy White, it makes sense to air the ball out early and often.
Whichever receiver is lined up against Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey might have a bit of trouble. At 34, Bailey is still one of the top corners in the league.
However, Tracy Porter, the cornerback on the opposite side of the field, can be beat often. When Porter was a member of the New Orleans Saints, White got the best of him more often than not.
The game is bound to be a shootout. You’ve got two quarterbacks who make liberal use of the no-huddle offense. With as good as Ryan is in the no-huddle, Manning is quite possibly the master of the fast-paced offense.
Atlanta’s defense will have to be prepared and do what it can, and it’ll have to do it without Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes who is out for the season after tearing his Achilles in Kansas City. The Falcons will need to generate a constant pass rush to compensate for the loss of Grimes.
Christopher Owens is sliding in as the nickelback. He’s been picked on several times by quarterbacks, so expect Manning to do the same.
Denver’s nickelback, Chris Harris, may be out. He sprained his ankle versus the Steelers and has yet to practice since.
I predict the Falcons win this game and improve to 2-0. Expect lots of offense.
Points Scored: 40.0 (4th)
Total Offense: 376.0 (12th)
Passing Offense: 292.0 (7th)
Rushing Offense: 84.0 (18th)
Points Allowed: 24.0 (20th)
Total Defense: 393.0 (26th)
Passing Defense: 241.0 (15th)
Rushing Defense: 152.0 (29th)
Points Scored: 31.0 (7th)
Total Offense: 334.0 (17th)
Passing Offense: 240.0 (18th)
Rushing Offense: 94.0 (17th)
Points Allowed: 19.0 (11th)
Total Defense: 284.0 (10th)
Passing Defense: 209.0 (10th)
Rushing Defense: 75.0 (8th)