By: Raynard Churchwell
This Sunday the Falcons will head to Indiana to play against the Indianapolis Colts in a matchup between two 1-1 teams. The Falcons look to continue their winning ways as they were able to pull out a tough win against the Eagles last week. The Colts are also trying to get their second win of the season after a fierce battle against the Titans. Both teams are currently in 1st place in their divisions and earning a win this Sunday will give each team more confidence as the season continues.
Tale of the Tape
Falcons – After an abysmal showing in Week 1, the Falcon’s offense redeemed themselves in Week 2. The offense looked like the powerhouse that everyone expected to see this season. Julio Jones once again reminded everyone why many consider him to be the best receiver in the game as he caught five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. His partner in crime Calvin Ridley also had a great game going for 8 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Both receivers are averaging over 13 yards per catch and making a case for themselves as the best wideout duo in the league. Quarterback Matt Ryan’s play has been very inconsistent thus far. Through the first two games, Matty Ice has thrown for five touchdowns and five interceptions. If Ryan wants to be considered in the class of elite quarterbacks and get the Dirty Birds back to the Superbowl, he’ll have to step it up. The running game has been non-existent for the Falcons. Starting running back Devonta Freeman has a measly 41 yards total for the year, while only averaging 2.2 yards per carry. As for the Falcon’s defense, it hasn’t been pretty, but they have played well enough for the team to win. After being steamrolled in Week 1, the defense was able to make some key stops in week 2. One thing I was impressed with was the defensive line which was able to create pressure against Carson Wentz the entire game. The Falcon’s secondary has also been impressive as they currently hold the top-ranked pass defense in the league. Cornerback Desmond Trufant has also been playing outstanding football so far. Trufant recorded two interceptions last week and was given MVP honors. According to Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks have a 0.0 rating when throwing Trufant’s way. No other cornerback has accomplished this feat through the first two weeks, since Ronde Barber in 2010. He has only allowed one catch for six yards this season.
Colts – Indianapolis has shown a lot of toughness and resiliency this season. After star quarterback Andrew Luck shockingly retired, the fate of the team was placed on the shoulders of backup Jacoby Brissett. So far this season, Brissett has played well enough in both games to give the Colts a chance to win. He has recorded five touchdowns and only one interception so far this season. Running Back Marlon Mack has been the driving force for the offense. Mack is currently averaging 112 yards per game and five yards per carry. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is continuing to dominate as he has done for years. He currently leads the team with 12 catches for 130 yards on the season. On the other side of the ball, the defense showed major improvements in two weeks. After giving up 30 points in week 1, they were able to hold the Titans to just 17 points last week. A big question in the game will be the absence of second-year linebacker Darius Leonard. After leading the league in tackles as a rookie, Leonard has shown no signs of slowing down as he currently leads the team in tackles through two games. Unfortunately, Leonard suffered a concussion last week, and will not suit up against Atlanta. The Colts secondary has also played well so far this season as they rank in the top ten in pass defense. Free safety Malik Hooker has been playing lights out this year. Quarterbacks have been scared to throw in his direction as his range and nose for the ball has been on full display.
A key individual matchup to watch for will be Falcon’s cornerback Desmond Trufant vs. Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Hilton is an elite talent. He was given the nickname “Ghost” because his elite speed and crisp route running makes it tough for defenders to keep up with him. If given a crease, the 4x pro bowler can wreak havoc on opposing defenses. Desmond Trufant is on pace to have his best season since entering the league in 2013. As stated earlier, he currently has more interceptions than catches allowed through the first two games. Hilton will be Trufant’s biggest test so far this season; therefore, I expect a great battle between the two impact players.
Another key matchup will be the Falcon’s wide receivers vs. the Colt’s secondary. Julio Jones is considered by many to be the best receiver in the game. He has the ability to run every route, the speed to run past defenders, and the strength to bully defenders. The Falcons next great target in Calvin Ridley has shown that he is a star in the making. However, the Colt’s secondary has been solid. Last week they were able to hold the Titans to 154 yards in passing. If the Colt’s secondary can contain the Falcons receivers, they will give themselves a great shot at winning the game.
I believe that the Falcon’s offense will be too much for the Colts to handle. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will have big games. I also believe the constant pressure from the Falcon’s defensive line will force Jacoby Brissett to speed up his throws and make mistakes.
Score: Atlanta 28 Colts 14