Denver at Atlanta
Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Georgia Dome, Atlanta - TV: ESPN
*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
*Keys to the game: This promises to be an entertaining primetime matchup between a strong pass-rushing AFC defense and an offense poised to become one of the NFC's most feared. Falcons QB Matt Ryan completed a combined 17 passes to WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez in the opener, and the trio poses extreme matchup difficulties. Strangely, the one minor concern for Atlanta is suddenly the ground game, with RB Michael Turner facing questions about whether he is beginning to lose his burst. If Denver can stuff the run, the question becomes whether Ryan's receivers can break free before he gets hit. Broncos QB Peyton Manning looked healthy in the season opener, although questions remain about his ability to throw the deep ball and his protection broke down numerous times. He relied on a bevy of underneath passes against Pittsburgh, looking often to familiar targets in WR Brandon Stokley and TE Jacob Tamme.
*Matchup to watch - Broncos LCB Champ Bailey vs. Falcons WR Roddy White: Not that Bailey ever requires help, but this will be a particularly fascinating one-on-one matchup with the attention Jones commands on the other side. White led the league in drops last season, but he's an excellent route-runner who caught six of the eight passes that came his way in Kansas City.
*Player spotlight - Falcons CB Chris Owens: He has struggled in the nickel role in the past, but Atlanta's options are limited with needing to move Dunta Robinson back outside following Brent Grimes' season-ending injury. Manning will find Owens and/or Dominique Franks and test them quickly.
*Fast facts: Atlanta scored on its first eight possessions last week. ... Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 16 straight regular-season games. ... Denver has won seven of the past eight meetings dating back to 1985.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
The Falcons have the makings of a true contender if they can get the ground game untracked to match their explosive passing attack. QB Matt Ryan had a 102.9 passer rating at home last season and Peyton Manning needs some time before Denver's offense can hang in this matchup.
*Our pick: Falcons 28-23