Peyton Manning: Breaking Down No. 18's Fantasy Impact vs. Atlanta Falcons

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2012

September 9 2012; Denver, CO, USA;Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Peyton Manning was fantastic in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But can fantasy owners and Broncos fans expect a repeat performance in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons?

There are a lot of factors to consider when making that determination. Will the Broncos become pass-heavy in the no-huddle? Will the Falcons control the ball and limit the Broncos' offensive touches? Can the defensive line of the Falcons generate a consistent pass rush?

One of the misconceptions about the Steelers versus Broncos tilt was that Denver didn't run a balanced offense, seeing as Pittsburgh dominated time of possession. In fact, the Broncos ran the ball more than they passed, albeit by a 27-to-26 margin. 

Of course, the Steelers managed to run 16 more offensive plays than the Broncos, in large part because they strung together long drives and kept the Broncos off the field. The game plan may have come to fruition, but it hardly worked, seeing as Manning led Denver to 31 points and the win.

Still, it's a game plan the Falcons would be wise to incorporate, especially with everyone talking about their passing attack after Week 1. What better way to keep the Broncos off guard and keep Manning off the field than by running the ball and controlling the clock?

The Broncos were a great running team a year ago, but that Tim Tebow guy had something to do with that. It remains to be seen how the running game will develop this year, especially with Manning calling the shots. 

While it remains a work in progress, the passing attack should be the primary focus of the Broncos' offense.

Against the Falcons, that's not a bad approach. While the Falcons did give up 152 rushing yards to the Kansas City Chiefs last week, they'll be without Brent Grimes, their best corner, for the rest of the season. Asante Samuel (the risk-taker) and Dunta Robinson (whose discipline has been known to lapse) are the sort of corners of whom Manning can take advantage.

The Falcons were tied for No. 19 in the NFL last year with 33.0 sacks, and they have anything but the league's most dangerous pass rush (they did sack Matt Cassel three times last week, however). Against a guy like Manning who has such a quick release, generating pressure may be tough for Atlanta.

So what is the verdict given the above information?

Manning will probably have another excellent game for the Broncos, but the Falcons will probably win. I would expect Manning to finish with 315 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to just one interception. 

But the Falcons will control the clock, frustrate the Denver defense with a balanced offense and ultimately get the win.

So fantasy owners, take delight. As for you Broncos fans, well, there's always next week.


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