Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons: Key Matchups That Will Determine Outcome
The NFL is a numbers game. Well, tonight's Monday Night Football matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons certainly is.
Two pass-happy offenses. Four strong wide receivers. Four stingy cornerbacks. Two sound defenses. Two gun-slinging quarterbacks.
Let's take a look at the most critical matchups that'll determine tonight's outcome.
Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter vs. Roddy White and Julio Jones
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Two solid cornerbacks and two stellar wide receivers.
With Matt Ryan ready to feast off any mistake by the Denver defenders.
Yeah, I'd say this pair of matchups will be crucial this evening.
Bailey isn't as explosive of an athlete as he used to be, but he's amazingly intelligent and is still a good cover corner. He'll have his hands full with White and could actually be at a disadvantage against Jones.
Porter is fresh off a fantastic game against the Steelers in Week 1, but he'll be tested throughout the night as well.
These matchups will swing the game in one direction or the other.
Peyton Manning vs. Asante Samuel
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Samuel and Manning undoubtedly know each other from their days with the Patriots and Colts.
The Falcons cornerback is one of the most opportunistic defensive backs in football with a knack to step in front of a pass and reel in an interception in crunch time.
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are not easy covers, but it'll be interesting to see how Manning looks to fool Samuel into prematurely jumping routes.
Conversely, Samuel will look to bait Manning into certain throws all evening.
It should be a classic quarterback-corner battle between these two cerebral players.
Von Miller vs. Sam Baker/Tyson Clabo
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The Falcons didn't have to face Tamba Hali in Week 1, and they allowed only one sack in the process. The pass protection of the offensive line is perceived to be the weakness of Atlanta's offense, and it's up against Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil tonight.
Quite the formidable edge-rushing duo.
Expect to see Miller line up on either side of the Broncos' defensive front and be part of the pass rush the majority of the time when the Falcons have the ball.
If Baker and Clabo can keep the athletic pass-rusher away from Ryan, Atlanta should be able to move the ball through the air.
If Miller wreaks havoc, it could be a long night for Atlanta's signal-caller.
John Abraham vs. Ryan Clady
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Abraham, 34, has lost a step, but he's still the most dynamic edge-rusher on the Falcons' roster.
He had a sack and two tackles for loss in the season-opening win against the Chiefs.
Every week, protecting Peyton Manning is the fundamental priority for the Broncos, so get used to Clady vs. the opposing team's best pass-rusher to be a vital matchup from here through December.
Clady is an established blindside protector, but he faces another tough matchup this week on the road.
If Abraham is kept at bay, Manning could have another big night.