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Key matchup: Falcons wide receivers vs. Broncos cornerbacks

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

In Wednesday’s key matchup, we take a look at a tough test awaiting Denver’s secondary on Monday night in Atlanta.

Falcons WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White vs. Broncos CBs Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter

Denver’s defense will be looking to build on its Week One performance when it travels to Atlanta for a Monday-night battle with the Falcons’ loaded offense.

The Broncos held QB Ben Roethlisberger to 245 yards passing and didn’t give up a completion longer than 27 yards in the opener. They racked up nine tackles for loss, including five sacks, and had 10 passes defensed, including a game-sealing fourth-quarter pick-six by CB Tracy Porter, who accounted for half of the team’s passes defensed in his Broncos debut.

Steelers WRs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown form a speedy tandem with big-play ability, but Porter and Champ Bailey are in for a different kind of challenge Monday night.

The Falcons are bigger and more physical at wide receiver than Pittsburgh. Roddy White and Julio Jones have a rare blend of size and quickness. They form one of the league’s best duos at the position. QB Matt Ryan looked extremely sharp vs. Kansas City in Week One, completing six passes apiece to White and Jones, who had two TD grabs.

To keep the Falcons from racking up big chunks of yards through the air, Porter and Bailey, and Denver’s safeties, have to tackle well, and Porter — who played for New Orleans prior this season, including two games against Jones and White last season — really could struggle in a physical battle when matched up one-on-one with White or Jones. They do not shy away from contact and do not get pushed around at the line of scrimmage. Look for Ryan to target Porter — Jones had 8-128-1 receiving and White had 11-127-0 receiving against Porter and the Saints in Week 16 last season. Bailey typically sees fewer throws toward his side of the field.

If the Broncos do as poor of a job as the Chiefs did of creating pressure and affecting Ryan, the fifth-year quarterback will find windows and methodically peck away at the Broncos. The Falcons feel very comfortable running the no-huddle, so the Broncos have to be prepared for an up-tempo, explosive passing attack.

With some questions lingering about Atlanta’s ground game (23 carries for 84 yards in Week One), if the Broncos can generate enough of a pass rush to force the Falcons to run the ball, the Broncos will have a chance to keep a dangerous offense at least somewhat bottled up.

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