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Home Of 500 Handicappers
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
While Peyton Manning showed he still bears mention among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, Matt Ryan performed at quite the high level himself in last week’s season opener. Ryan, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in Atlanta’s 40-24 triumph over Kansas City, will look to keep the Falcons flying high in Monday’s tilt versus Manning and the Denver Broncos. Ryan is blessed with plenty of weapons – including second-year stud wideout Julio Jones, who reeled in six catches for 108 yards and two scores.
Manning didn’t look the worse for wear after his 20-month absence, tossing a pair of scores in Denver’s 31-19 victory over Pittsburgh last week. The future Hall of Famer took the reins of the no-huddle offense and sliced the Steelers’ defense – highlighted by a 71-yard scoring strike to Demaryius Thomas for his 400th career touchdown. Manning will face a Falcons defense that struggled versus Kansas City and lost top cover cornerback Brent Grimes to a season-ending Achilles tendon tear in the process.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (1-0): Veteran cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter will be put to the test as they shadow Jones and Roddy White all over the field on Monday. Porter showed he was up to the challenge in the season opener with eight tackles and a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown. Linebacker Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in 2011, tied a career high with two sacks as Denver’s defense limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to just 284 total yards last week.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-0): While Atlanta’s high-octane passing game drew headlines, running back Michael Turner had trouble getting untracked in the opener. Turner, who rushed for an NFC-best 1,340 yards last season, mustered just 32 on 11 carries versus the Chiefs. Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, who found the end zone against his former team, has scored in three straight games versus Denver. Ryan has dominated at home, winning 26 of 30 career regular-season games in the Peach State.
1. The Falcons have fared well at home during Mike Smith’s tenure, posting a 26-6 mark since 2008.
2. Denver has won eight of the 12 regular-season meetings – including six of the last seven contests. The Broncos also defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, marking Hall of Famer John Elway’s final game.
3. Atlanta will shuffle Dunta Robinson back to right cornerback in place of Grimes. Reserve Christopher Owens, who returned from a hamstring injury, will see additional time at nickel back.