Take a quick glance at the tale of the tape for Monday night’s showdown between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons:
Broncos QB Peyton Manning was dominant in a 31-19 win over Pittsburgh last Sunday night, completing 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas, who is probable against the Falcons after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Steelers, five times for 110 yards in the victory.
The Falcons averaged 6.8 yards per play and finished with 376 total yards in their 40-24 victory over the Chiefs last Sunday. Quarterback Matt Ryan completed 23 of 31 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Second-year wideout Julio Jones was his favorite target, hauling in six passes for 108 yards and two scores. Veteran wide receiver Roddy White (groin) was downgraded from probable Friday to questionable Saturday on the team’s injury report.
The Denver defense threw all kinds of different looks at Ben Roethlisberger and held him to just 209 yards passing last week. The Broncos have a stout stop unit that boasts playmakers like Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller and Tracy Porter.
The Falcons’ defense struggled in the first half against Kansas City, but forced three turnovers and held the Chiefs scoreless in the second half until the game’s last possession. More troubling was the season-ending Achilles injury sustained by star cornerback Brent Grimes.
Special teams was key for the Falcons last Sunday, with Matt Bryant converting all four of his field goal attempts and Jacquizz Rodgers racking up 104 yards on two kick returns.
Matt Prater converted both of his field goal attempts against the Steelers in a relatively uneventful game on special teams for the Broncos. The cover team did a great job containing Pittsburgh returners Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
Word on the street
"The most important thing is we have to play sound technique and make sure we're in the right place…If you're in the wrong place by a half-yard, you're going to pay for it. (Manning) has a good understanding of how you're trying to defend him. If you give him pre- snap reads, he's going to know where to go with the football." -- Falcons head coach Mike Smith on his plan to contain Peyton Manning.
"He's made me a smarter receiver and taught me how to run routes the way he wanted them, the way to get open…Basically, I had to change up some things that I wasn't doing before. Working with Peyton helped me." -- Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on how Peyton Manning has improved his game.