Denver, CO. Things could not have gone more perfectly for the Denver Broncos in week 1. A lot of the question marks this team had heading into the season seemed to be answered to varying degrees, and Peyton Manning proved he is far from washed up. The young receivers looked outstanding, as Demaryius Thomas running down the field in open space once again will haunt Pittsburgh fans for quite some time. The running game was serviceable, and did just enough to be effective. It was the defense though, that potentially made the biggest impression in the home opener. The pressure on the QB was very good, and the signing of Tracy Porter has already paid off. Porter sealed a Denver Broncos victory with a “pick-six” in the 4th quarter, and once again showed his innate ability to make game-changing plays. This defense showed some things that Broncos fans really haven’t seen in several years. The tandem of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller appear to be a duo that will harass opposing QB’s for the next decade. Derek Wolfe is rapidly developing into a stud lineman to compliment those sack masters. Champ Bailey is still Champ Bailey, as his intelligence on the field just cannot be taught. It was the defense as a whole that showed marked improvement over previous years, and the ability to make huge plays is there now. But as nice as the win in week 1 was, this Denver Broncos team, and more specifically the defense, will face an entirely new challenge this Monday night. Facing Atlanta in their building will be a much tougher task for Miller, Dumervil, and the gang. The Falcons are already flying high, and looking to keep the air show rollin on Monday Night Football.
How good is Atlanta at home? Over the last four seasons, the Falcons are 26-6 in the Georgia Dome during the regular season. They have designed a team that utilizes the fast track there quite well, and their skill players are some of the league’s best. Say what you will about Atlanta’s ability to win in the playoffs, as that has obviously been a problem for a few years now. However, if anyone watched them in week 1 versus the Chiefs, this team is already firing on all cylinders. Matt Ryan is on the verge of becoming an elite NFL QB, and his weapons down the field are extremely dynamic. Roddy White can do it all, and is simply one of the best wideouts around. Julio Jones is now in his second year, and appears to be headed towards stardom. Jones is a freakish athlete, who can either run past defenders, or right over them. If an opposing defense focuses on stopping the passing game, they still have Michael Turner, who is a bowling ball on legs. The ageless Tony Gonzalez is still in the mix, and can still reel em in in the red zone. The bottom line is, the Denver Broncos are going to have their hands full trying to even contain this Falcons offense. Factor in that this will be Atlanta’s home opener, and coming of a resounding blowout win over Kansas City, the home crowd will be juiced.
There are a few things that could be in Denver’s favor in this matchup, though. Peyton Manning returns to a dome, where he excelled throughout his career in Indy. He looked really good outdoors against Pittsburgh, but may look even better in the air-conditioned Georgia Dome. If any balls sail or are off the mark, weather obviously cannot be to blame. Also, as great as the Falcons have been at home, one of their six losses during the past four years was to the Denver Broncos. The last time Denver traveled to Atlanta, the Broncos came out on top, 24-20. This game was back in the fall of 2008, and of course both teams rosters are drastically different now. But if John Fox wants to bring up this fact heading into this game, it could serve a purpose to give the team confidence that Atlanta can be beaten in their own building. It will be interesting to see how Peyton handles the crowd noise in the dome, and the various things he will do at the line of scrimmage to battle the hostile fans. It will also be interesting to see who the Broncos put Champ Bailey on. Do they put him on the veteran White, or the young stud Jones? However you wanna analyze this game, one thing should be for sure….the scoreboard should be getting quite a workout come Monday night.
Do the Denver Broncos have to win this game? Absolutely not. In fact, with the Falcons being favored, it would be a small surprise if they did. If Denver comes back to town at 1-1, it’s really all anyone could have asked for after two weeks. After this road game, the Broncos have two home games, vs Houston and vs Oakland, which are much more important in the grand scheme of things. But if Denver can somehow outlast the Falcons and get a win, this 2-0 start could be what propels this team to huge things in 2012, and puts them right in the hunt in the AFC’s elite.
Denver Sports by J Simp