So, last Sunday was pretty fun, right? The team was firing on all cylinders. The offense looked solid--and by solid, I mean pretty much unstoppable--throughout, and although the defense had some difficulties in the first half, they actually made adjustments for the second half, and the results were impressive.
In week two of the NFL season, the Denver Broncos will match up against the Falcons on a national stage on Monday Night Football. Whether you’re going to be watching the game in the Dome, or at home with the sweet sound of Jon Gruden in your ears, follow the jump for three things to watch for on Monday night.
Falcons RBs vs. Denver’s Defense
Denver’s defense is quite good. They sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times last week, and Big Ben is not particularly easy to sack, and they picked him off once. Linebacker Von Miller was responsible for two of the sacks.
The Falcons’ offensive line was consistent in pass protection against the Chiefs, and they will need to protect Matt Ryan adequately on Monday. As Michael Turner fantasy owners everywhere know, the Falcons’ running game was not much of a factor against the Chiefs--some of that was just the game plan, but run blocking was not all it needed to be when the Falcons did attempt it. If Turner, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers get more involved on Monday, it will pave the way for another successful day for Ryan through the air, and it will also help with time of possession.
Falcons Defense vs. Peyton Manning
One thing that stood out to me when watching Denver on Sunday night, aside from the grating nature of Cris Collinsworth’s commentary, is that Peyton really can still read a defense like nobody’s business. That being said, Manning was sacked twice in that game. The Falcons’ secondary will need to maintain adequate coverage on Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in particular, and if they do, it will give the front seven a chance to put some pressure on Manning.
Speaking of the secondary, the saddest news of the week was Brent Grimes’ Achilles injury that landed him on injured reserve for the season. Dunta Robinson will be taking Grimes’ place, and Chris Owens will be starting at nickel. There’s been quite a bit of doom and gloom around the interwebs since it was announced, but Owens is extremely fast, hits hard, and is no longer playing in a Brian Van Gorder scheme. Also, Robinson had some challenges in covering the Chiefs’ Dexter McCluster out of the slot last week. The Falcons need Owens to step up, and if what he’s bringing to the field is the aggression he showed on special teams against the Chiefs, I’m optimistic.
The Falcons’ defense got off to a bit of a slow start against the Chiefs last week, but after some halftime adjustments, guys like William Moore (who does, in fact, seem to be always ready) and Stephen Nicholas really stepped up; both intercepted Matt Cassel, and Nicholas also recovered a fumble courtesy of John Abraham. That level of play will be really helpful against the Broncos.
Dome Field Advantage
If you’re fortunate enough to get to watch the game in person at the Georgia Dome on Monday night, it would be lovely to see you in your seat by kickoff at 8:30 p.m. It’s a nationally televised game; fans that stroll in toward the end of the second quarter are part of the reason the Falcons fan base as a whole are labeled as caring more about barbecue and sweet tea and peaches than Falcons football.
And, if you’re at the Dome, and assuming that you’re in your seat at kickoff--please be loud. I mean obnoxiously loud. Annoy-your-neighbors loud. Hoarse-by-the-end-of-the-game loud. This is a good Broncos team, and the one thing fans can really do to help the Falcons is create an adversarial environment for their offense. Peyton Manning is the master of the no-huddle offense. Crowd noise disrupts the no-huddle. It’s that simple.
Last week’s game certainly suggested that this is an extremely exciting Falcons team with a ton of potential. It would be fantastic for the home crowd to support the team by showing up on time and being as loud as humanly possible.
What will you be looking for in Monday’s game?