Welcome, you dirtiest of birds, to this week’s edition of Bird Watch. In this weekly segment, we will provide you a list of people, places or things which we have our eyes on.
Whether it be due to poor performance, a bad feeling or the need for an individual to RISE UP, the members of this list had better tread lightly, because we will be watching.
This week, the Falcons’ record-setting offense heads out west for a showdown with the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
It remains to be seen who the Broncos will start at quarterback, but given their propensity to put unknown or past-their-prime players behind center, I’ve compiled a list of possible candidates.
Peyton Manning: Please get Peyton off TV (sung to the tune of that Nationwide jingle you’ve been humming all year long)
John Elway: He was old in 1998, but I’m sure he’d love another go at this team.
Brett Favre: It’s kind of mandatory to include him on a list like this.
Mike Reilly: He’s currently the leading passer in the CFL and you probably know just as much about him as you do Trevor Siemian.
Tyler Perry: Coming soon to a theater near you – “Madea starts at Mile High”
Anyway, let’s find out who – in no particular order – we need to be keeping an eye on.
The pass rush: Taking the honorary No. 1 spot on this list from Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan is the team’s pass rush. The Falcons have four sacks so far this season, which is tied for least in the NFL – an all-too-familiar spot. Denver’s defense has earned its stellar reputation, but the offense is nothing to write home about. With nine sacks allowed, the Broncos’ offensive line is tied with the Falcons’, and they are surely beatable. Dwight Freeney needs to break out that intoxicating spin move so often that he turns into an actual tornado and wreaks havoc on the stadium.
Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman: Offensive balance is what has allowed Atlanta to be so successful through the first four games of the season, but it’s of utmost importance this week. Against Denver’s pass rush, the Falcons will need to gain yards on the ground or by utilizing the backs out of the backfield. Fortunately, these guys are two of the very best in the business. They will need to be on top of their game on Sunday, though, to keep the offense running smoothly. Also, they need a better nickname than the one Jeanna has concocted. Please feel free to @ her on Twitter with suggestions.
Tevin and Devonta will heretofore be known as the Smang Bros. Please do not @ me with your bad nickname ideas because it's been decided.— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) September 30, 2016
Injuries: Dan Quinn has his team playing with such #speed and #effort that they are tearing their bodies apart. The linebacker corps is so thin (HOW THIN IS IT?) they should be called linegoners instead (editor’s note: oh noooooo). On a more serious note, this is really the surefire way to throw this season off track. It would be a real shame and put a dent into the defense’s overall growth.
Offensive line: I feel for this group, I really do. They’ve actually played fairly well so far this season, but this isn’t going to be easy. The Falcons can’t hope to win this battle, they just need to hunker down and survive as long as they can. An effective running game will help keep Atlanta ahead of the sticks and prevent Denver’s pass rushers from pinning their ears back. If the Falcons do have to start passing, however, please keep these men (and Matt Ryan) in your prayers.
Von Miller: Speaking of that pass rush, this guy is their leader…
Mile High Stadium: There’s home-field advantage and then there’s “We play our football games literally 5,280 feet above sea level” home-field advantage. The team’s conditioning will certainly be put to the test in this one, but these shenanigans need to be evaluated by the league. I mean, would they allow games to be played underwater or in space? You know, other places where breathing is going to generally be a problem. P.S. Mile High Stadium is such a cool name, and Sports Authority Field at Mile High is just awful.
New Orleans Saints: It’s getting kind of hard to see these guys way down there in the basement, but we’ve got our eye on them nonetheless.