When the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos meet on Monday Night Football to finish the second week of the 2012-13 regular season, it will pit one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the sport against a man who was once compared to him coming out of college. Peyton Manning will lead his Broncos into the Georgia Dome to play Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
The Falcons are coming off a 40-24 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that saw Matt Ryan debut the Falcons' new offensive game plan. Ryan received a lot of attention during the offseason and while many feel it is purely hype, I see this game as his coming out party. This will be his breakout performance against an improved Denver team that has almost as much talent as any other team in the league.
In the opening week, Denver picked up the 31-19 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers behind the arm of Manning. In his first game since 2010, Manning threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't look like he missed a beat, but the worry about taking that one big hit has to be on the mind of his team, family and even fantasy GM's.
For the Falcons to get the win against the tough Broncos, they need to do two things offensively. They need to protect Ryan and prevent the Broncos from getting the sack. Against the Steelers, Denver recorded five sacks, hindering their offensive attack. The other thing Atlanta needs to do is get Michael Turner involved early. I know the team has moved on from their run-first mentality, but they need to get Turner more than the 11 carries he got in the opener. Even with a big lead, the team didn't look to Turner often enough and against an aggressive defense like the Broncos, they need to.
For the Broncos to get the win, they need to shut down the Falcons biggest offensive weapons, Julio Jones and Roddy White. Both receivers are likely to reach 100 catches on the season, and the Broncos need to find a way to limit them to 10 or less combined catches. Even if they can shut them down, Atlanta still has Tony Gonzalez to throw to, and Harry Douglas is as good of a No. 3 receiver that one will find in the league.
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Hobson Lopes is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to Deion Sanders and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes .