I've spent all week giving the Indianapolis Colts credit for what they do well, warning that teams backed into a corner can be dangerous. I'm now going to reverse course a bit.
The Falcons completely outclass the Colts this season. From top to bottom, their roster is deeper. The Colts have a handful of true stars who are better than or equal to what the Falcons can bring to bear—Dwight Freeney springs to mind—but they shouldn't beat Atlanta. Period.
What I want to see is a Falcons team that comes out and beats the tar out of the Colts. I want to see a team hungry to push for first place, one that is past the yips that characterized early games, especially the excruciatingly close win over the Seahawks. We all know, deep down inside, that the Falcons are capable of playing excellent football and equally capable of playing down to the level of their opponents. That's why I'm so eager to see a great game from our beloved birds.
After the jump, we'll hit four critical matchups in the game ahead.
Dwight Freeney versus Will Svitek
The Falcons have faced some tough pass rushers this season, but Dwight Freeney presents a unique challenge. Smaller than your average defensive end, Freeney has all the moves of the great pass rushers and has 98.5 sacks for his career.
Whether you're a big believer in Will Svitek or not, you have to admit Freeney versus Svitek is a matchup no one's thrilled about. If the Colts can get Freeney in the backfield, he's going to be bad news for Matt Ryan. It'll be a truly great test for Svitek, who actually has an outside shot to lock up a starting job down the line if he can play well.
Michael Turner versus Colts Interior Line
Let's face it, Turner's going to get a ton of carries. If he can approximate what's he done for the last several weeks, the Falcons should be in excellent shape.
Given that the Colts are no great shakes at stopping the run up the middle or around the outside, it shouldn't be hard for Turner to keep his run(ning) going.
Pierre Garcon versus Brent Grimes
An aging Reggie Wayne is still a concern, but it's Pierre Garcon who is making waves in Indy these days. An athletic, shifty receiver, Garcon can get open and is definitely Curtis Painter's favorite target.
Thankfully for the Falcons, he should be lining up against Grimes for most of the day. As we all know, Optimus is supremely athletic himself and feasts on inaccurate quarterbacks. I'm hoping Painter tests him all day long.
Matt Bosher versus Blair White and Joe Lefeged
If the Colts' depth chart is correct, it'll be these two guys returning kicks and punts against the Falcons. Bosher has the power to all but cripple an already anemic Colts offense by giving them poor field position. Let's hope he does so.
What matchups do you have in mind?