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Falcons to watch today against the Denver Broncos

Consistency is key for these Falcons.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are 2-6 going into the season at this point, and 2-1 under interim head coach Raheem Morris. Right now, this is a team that still has enough talent on the roster to actually win more games, but it certainly doesn’t get any easier as the season progresses.

The good news is the defense has really made some strides in becoming more aggressive and making more plays. Can the team continue to improve? Possibly, but again, it will certainly be an uphill climb considering the schedule outlook going forward. That being stated, who will need to step up for the Falcons to pull off another win against the Denver Broncos?

The entire offensive line

This Denver Broncos defensive line is no joke. Even though Von Miller is out for the season, this team can still apply pressure with the likes of Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris, although Harris’ status is uncertain for today. Also, considering that Bronco’s DC Vic Fangio is an aggressive blitzer, the Falcons’ OL will have to step up and be effective in protecting Matt Ryan in the passing game as well as open some holes in the running game for Todd Gurley and crew. If the offensive line can keep Ryan fairly clean, the Falcons offense can be effective.

Steven Means

Considering the fact that both Dante Fowler, Jr. and Takk McKinley are out for today’s game, it’s expected that Steven Means will see increased reps on passing downs. Means has certainly been one of the more consistent EDGE role players, but he will need to make a bigger impact if the Falcons want to be more successful in terms of impacting Drew Lock when he steps back in the passing game.

Of course, I fully expect the Falcons to be aggressive when it comes to the blitz packages, but if Means can step it up and win more one on one matchups, it will be a definite advantage for the defense.

Keanu Neal

When I say Keanu Neal has been sorely missed on this defense, it is a vast understatement. Although he had a slow start to the season, which honestly is expected considering he missed most of the season last season, he’s really returning back to his Pro Bowl form in run support and pass coverage. Neal’s presence the past few games has been felt by offenses in the middle of the field as players are now fully conscious of where he is at all times. If Neal’s play continues to be on the uptick, it bodes well for the Falcons defense.

This is a very interesting time for the Falcons. Since Coach Morris has taken over, the defense has shown to be much more aggressive, and the running game on the offensive side of the ball has gained some traction. Those two factors, if consistently executed, actually give the Falcons a chance to compete for the rest of the season. Honestly speaking, I’ve seen a bit more consistency under Coach Morris for this team than under Coach Quinn. We will certainly see if the team can continue to build and be competitive today against the Broncos.