This is a true Rocky Balboa moment for my Atlanta Falcons. Just as they’re on a hot streak, they get what should be their hardest game. They go on the road to take on the defending Super Bowl Champions. The Denver Broncos have a famously excellent defense. having racked up 17 sacks in four games and allowing 16 points a game. Their offense is not nearly the equal of their defense, though.
Apart from Denver being at home, here’s the three reasons for why the Falcons are supposed to lose this game:
Credibility. Denver has won over the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s one more tough opponent than the Falcons have beaten. Although I would point out, again, that the Saints usually play us tough. Broncos fans should know. After all, last season’s 7-9 Raiders did beat them in a low-scoring game in which the Broncos should have had a natural advantage.
Balance. Atlanta has the top-ranked offense and third last defense. We’ve just been scoring more than we’ve been giving up. While Denver hasn’t the top defense anymore (the loss of Danny Trevathan has a lot to do with this), their offense isn’t exactly bottom ten. We’ve relied far more heavily on irresistible offense than Denver has had to depend on shutdown defense.
Urgency. We’re two games and a tiebreaker ahead of Carolina. With Carolina’s offensive line and secondary under-performing, We don’t have to win this game. With Cam Newton held out of practice today, it looks more and more like they may have to play numerous games without him. That would all but guarantee us the division. The Broncos are on much thinner ice. The Raiders are behind by only one game in the AFC West race, just ended an undefeated season, and will more than likely bloody the Chargers on Sunday! Since last year’s much worse Raiders got a win over Denver, the AFC West is up for grabs.
With that out of the way, I see this as a can-win-but-probably-won’t game. Kansas City, the Colts, and Pittsburgh, two of which didn’t have great offenses, all scored a lot of points on Denver last year, so we know it can be done. The key is to give Matt Ryan a little time to throw. I expect Von Miller to get his sack, but with the way our offensive line is playing, It’s far from impossible for us to score points.
If the defense shows up, I think we’ll win this game. Will it? Well, it certainly stepped up last week. Three offensive points were allowed in three quarters. Sure, we gave a lot in the third, but only because we got conservative (the proof is that the moment the game seemed in reach, the Panthers turned the ball over on consecutive possessions). And before you say that the Panthers suck now, bear in mind that their offensive ranking is far superior to that of the Broncos.
The problem with this, of course, is that which is more likely to happen, a repeat of three awful defensive performances, or one good defensive performance? The answer is clear.
So yeah, this a likely loss. But I don’t see it as the slam dunk some others will. RISE UP!!!