Week 5 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At Denver Broncos

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 02: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in this reception against the Carolina Panthers at Georgia Dome on October 2, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2: Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos plays to the fans as he and players from both teams leave the field because of bad weather during the fourth quarter of the game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    Matt Ryan is off to a spectacular start with the Falcons, as he has been sharp with his passing and even better with his decision-making. Ryan is getting fine protection from his offensive line and he is moving around in the pocket with confidence as he waits for his receivers to get open before getting rid of the ball. Ryan has completed 72.1 percent of his passes with a fine 11-2 TD-interception ratio.
    The Broncos have played way over expectations this year, and considering they have played the majority of the season with lightly regarded Trevor Siemian behind center, that’s quite an achievement. Siemian injured his non-throwing shoulder vs. Tampa Bay in Week Four, but late reports indicated that he could start over Paxton Lynch here.
  • Offense
    The Falcons have a solid combination with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman at the running back position, and both are capable of taking the pressure off of Ryan. However, the Falcons have a huge weapon in Julio Jones, who is either the best or second-best receiver in the league. Jones had 300 receiving yards vs. Carolina, while Jacob Tamme is proving to be a dependable tight end.
    The Broncos are quite dependent on their running game, and that’s not going to change if Lynch does indeed get his first start. C.J. Anderson has the speed to get into the second level and the quickness to avoid the first hit. Demaryius Thomas has shown patience in working with young quarterbacks, while Emmanuel Sanders can use his speed to threaten the defense.
  • Defense
    The Falcons have been fairly effective on defense this year, but that’s only because the offense has performed so well and the defense has not been required to be overly stout. While the Falcons are fast and athletic on defense, they lack size and strength and can wear down against a power team. Dwight Freeney has 2.0 sacks, but the Falcons have just four QB traps on the season.
    The Broncos have tremendous confidence in their defense and they have not had any letdown this season. Von Miller is perhaps the most impactful defensive player in the league, and he has 5.5 sacks already this season. Defensive end Derek Wolfe is right behind with 4.0 sacks, while linebacker Brandon Marshall has a team-high 25 tackles.
  • Special Teams
    The Falcons have risen to the top of the league when it comes to all-around special-teams play, as they do an outstanding job in punt and kickoff coverage. Matt Bryant is a perfect 8-of-8 on his FG attempts and Matt Bosher has dropped eight of his 13 punts inside the 20.
    The Broncos have not allowed any long returns on punts or kickoffs this season, but return specialist Jordan Norwood does not strike fear into the hearts of Denver opponents. PK Brandon McManus has made 7-of-8 FG attempts, but he is unproven in the clutch.
The Falcons are off to a fine start as their offense and special teams have been remarkable. However, this is their biggest test of the season and they must stand up to the pressure of Miller and the Denver defense if they want to be considered an elite team.