The Falcons and the Broncos have ended the first quarter of the season on exemplary notes. The Falcons rebounded from a discouraging loss week one against Tampa Bay to win three straight and score 35, 45 and 48 points against the Raiders, Saints and Panthers. The Broncos have jumped out to a 4-0 record through an aggressive defense, dominant running game and adequate quarterback play. If either loses, it won’t be shocking or cause great damage. With that in mind, I believe this will be the game of the day. It’s time to dive into our Four Keys.
First, the Falcons must commit to running the football. The overall success of this offense, being multiple, having receivers other than Julio Jones getting involved and doing damage is predicated upon the threat of running the ball. All indications suggest running back Tevin Coleman will play Sunday (Sickle-Cell Trait) while being closely monitored by doctors. Devonta Freeman must be effective Coleman is limited by the altitude. The Atlanta Falcons are 6th in rushing.
Secondly, Julio Jones must continue perform at his high standard. When the Falcons played in New Orleans, he caught one pass for sixteen yards. However, he was doubled almost every play and his route running opens up lanes for Mohamed Sanu, Aldrick Robinson, the running backs and the tight ends. The Broncos like to play Man-to-Man and the rest of the receivers and tight ends have to win their match-ups. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib will match up on Jones and Sanu.
Thirdly, the Falcons defense has given up lots of points and the media is harping on it. However, when you look at the play-by-play sheets, the Dirty Birds have given up plenty of points when games were out of reach and did just enough to get over the finish line. The Falcons will miss Deion Jones, Sean Weatherspoon, Paul Worrilow and De’Vondre Campbell this week. They signed veteran AJ Hawk off the street Tuesday and LaRoy Reynolds will see significant time Sunday. If the Falcons defense can hold the Broncos under 24 points, they have a legitimate shot of winning.
Lastly, injuries: Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian is questionable with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
“He did a little bit more, took more reps in practice and like I said, we’ll continue to see how he comes out of it,” Kubiak told reporters Friday. “We have 48 hours here so we’ll see how he comes out of it tomorrow, how he’s feeling, but he took a lot more today so we’ll see where he’s at.”