Atlanta vs. Oakland: Michael Turner Primed For Big Day On The Ground

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2008

This weekend the Atlanta Falcons are continuing their road trip by going cross-country to visit the Oakland Raiders

While others will be more intrigued with rivalry games like Dallas traveling to New York to play the Giants and New England visiting Indianapolis, I will be watching Michael Turner run all over the black and silver.

As it has been painfully pointed out by several members here on Bleacher Report, Turner seems to only bust out for big games against horribly ranked defenses. Carolina, Chicago, and Philadelphia are only a few games where the stout running back was held in check.

Now it is time for Michael Turner to have yet another huge game on the ground. The Raiders rank 27th in the NFL in run defense, averaging 144.1 yards per game. Not to mention they have given up 11 rushing touchdowns and are allowing an average of 4.5 yards per carry.

After Turner was shut down yet again last week against a stingy Eagles defense, when he was held to only 58 yards rushing, the Falcons will be looking to attack on the ground early and often. Averaging over 150 rushing yards a game, the Falcons have the third ranked rushing offense in the NFL.

The stage is set for another big rushing day for "The Burner."

The Raiders pass defense is hardly any better. Ranked 19th in the league while giving up an average of 218.4 yards per game, Matt Ryan and Roddy White will be looking to torch the decimated secondary all day long.

White has nearly 700 yards receiving on nearly 50 catches already. The Alabama-Birmingham graduate continues to produce huge games with his third straight 100+ yard receiving game last week against Philadelphia.

If the passing game continues to progress, defenses around the league will have to give the Falcons respect down field. Ultimately, it will open up the run game.

The main obstacle in the way for Turner is the Atlanta defense. Ranked 23rd in rush defense giving up nearly 130 yards on average and 24th in pass defense allowing 230-plus yards on average.

If the Falcons fall behind early, then Matt Ryan will once again be called upon to use the vertical passing game. He's proved he can do it. Now, the defense just has to step up and make plays.