Roddy White and Julio Jones are the best receiver combination in the league. Both are big, fast, strong and sure handed, and this is trouble for Denver’s secondary. Denver did a good job against Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and the rest Pittsburgh’s passing attack, but these two are a whole different breed.
Trace Porter had an incredible game week one, culminating in the game clinching pick-six, but if you take a closer look a worrisome trend arises. Porter is a corner in the Asante Samuel mold, in that he will never press the receiver at the line of scrimmage, give a large cushion and gamble for deflections and interceptions. This leads to vulnerability on quick hitting routes and Porter was burned on short passes by both Brown and Wallace throughout the game. Be it a slant, stopping route, or crossing route Porter gave an Albert Haynesworth sized cushion to the receiver to account for their game changing speed. This meant that not too many passes went for big gains, but 7 yard gains were there for the taking.
There is also the diminishing play of Champ Bailey. At this point in his career, he is more Middling Cornerback Baily then a true Champ. Bailey ranked 64th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per attempt, giving up an average of 8.9 yards per play every time a Quarterback targeted him, and was dead last in the NFL in yards after catch allowed in coverage, giving up an eye popping 7.2 YAC per reception (all stats via Football Outsiders Almanac 2012).
This is where Roddy White and Julio Jones come into play. With their size and agility both are great yards after catch guys, with Jones being especially effective. He averaged 7.5 yards after the catch last year, tops in the NFL among receivers with at least 40 catches. Now all of those short passes can turn into big plays in the blink of an eye, especially when your safeties are Mike Adams (primarily a coverage guy) and Rahim Moore (ditto). This spells trouble for the Broncos defense.On the plus side, their defense is perfectly suited to destroy Michael Turner. The defense is incredibly aggressive and gets great penetration, particularly on the edges with Von “The Don” Miller and Elvis Dumervil treating Offensive Lineman and double teams like Rottweilers treat chew toys. The Broncos real weakness when trying to stop the run is that this aggressive penetration creates open cutback lanes for shifty backs, human joystick types like LeSean McCoy or Jamal Charles. Fortunately, at this point in his career Michael Turner has all of the game breaking speed and agility of an elephant. In quicksand. With two broken legs. Suffice to say, the run defense should not be an issue against this team, meaning this game has the makings of a good old fashioned shoot-out.
Unfortunately, Peyton has Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas to work with, and while both of these guys are solid wide receivers comparing them to Roddy and Julio is like comparing Erin Andrews to Suzy Kolber. I mean, sure, Suzy Kolber is an attractive women, but we are talking about Erin freaking Andrews here! Combine that with the Falcons finally transitioning from a plodding run-first power team to a no-huddle blitzkrieg attack, this has all the makings of a Falcons win.
DEN 24 ATL 34
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Written by Brandon Keller