Everyone is expecting a high-scoring, back-and-forth offensive explosion when the Atlanta Falcons host the Denver Broncos on Monday night. With two high-scoring offenses who seem to love the no-huddle, both defenses are going to get quite a workout. However, I think that the Broncos defense has the advantage going into this game. Not only have they already played against a very good offense in the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, but they they have to play against the master of the no-huddle offense, Peyton Manning, every day in practice. Those experiences should help in their preparation to face Matt Ryan.
By The Numbers
Right now, the over/under odds for the final score of this game is at 51 so clearly Las Vegas believes that this will be a high-scoring game. Last week the Denver Broncos offense accumulated 334 yards and scored 24 points (the final seven points came from the defense), virtually all of it in the no-huddle offense. This despite holding the ball for just over 24 minutes in the game.
The Atlanta Falcons, who used the no-huddle 20% of the time in their win over the Kansas City Chiefs last week (clearly they didn't need to utilize it more), scored 40 points and accumulated 376 yards on offense. Of those 376 offensive yards, 292 yards were from passing. I was a little surprised that the Falcons didn't try and focus on the running game more, but perhaps they feel that Ryan's ready to be unleashed. Certainly they have some outstanding wide receivers. Julio Jones may be on his way to an outstanding sophomore season, and his big-play ability takes the pressure off of former top receiver Roddy White. Add tight end Tony Gonzalez into the mix and Ryan has a multitude of great receiving options.
Broncos Defense Should Be Ready
As a Broncos fan, I was pleased with the efforts of the defensive line last week to plug up the middle any time the Steelers wanted to rush. I was also relatively happy with how well the secondary played, especially the cornerbacks. I'm very eager to see how Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter match up against Jones and White.
If the Falcons decide to utilize the no-huddle during the game, I think the Broncos will be well-prepared. With the Denver offense relying so heavily on that no-huddle offense in their win against the Steelers (using it exclusively after the first quarter), they must practice that all the time. That means the Broncos defense sees that no-huddle offense in practice every day. I'm also fairly certain that Manning has schooled the Broncos defense off the field in how to defend against the no-huddle.
I still expect a high-scoring game, but I don't expect the Falcons to be able to rely on the no-huddle offense very much against a highly capable Broncos defense. It remains to be seen if they'll attempt to adopt the strategy that the Steelers tried and simply try to hold onto the ball for as long as possible on offense. They may just decide to score as many points as they possibly can and hope that their defense can stop Manning occasionally. It should be a very interesting game.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor who writes about the Denver Broncos for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong NFL fan, she began following the Broncos upon moving to Denver in 2001.