Matt Ryan vs. Chargers Secondary
Matty Ice has looked sharp and crisp throughout the preseason making good decisions and completing all but one pass against the Rams, but the franchise QB runs into a formidable secondary with excellent cover corners Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie. Ryan looks to get more pressure from the Chargers quick, powerful, and hard-blitzing defense that’s made them famous. Who knows if Shawn Merriman will play, but even if he doesn’t suit up, the Bolts still boast one of the best linebacking corps in Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, and not to mention rookie draft pick Larry English. Ryan’s decision making skills and accuracy will put to much more of a test against this defense. How will Ryan do against a legit defense? Will the likely pressure cause Ryan’s great preseason to hit a bump?
Turner, Norwood, & The Burn Unit vs. Stout Run Defense
Turner the Burner has looked magnificent in a very limited time against two rather porous defenses in the Rams and Lions. #33 has shown a knack for the long run in both games, ripping off several 20+ yard runs, breaking tackles, and looking as one of the best backs in the league. Norwood hasn’t hit that great game-breaking run yet, but seemed to shake off the rust against the Rams in week 2. The Falcons starting O-Line has looked excellent so far, paving room to run for Turner and giving Matty Ice plenty of time to throw the ball. But the lineman haven’t run up against Jamal Williams, Luis Castillo, Shawn Merriman, Shaun Phillips, and Stephen Cooper yet either. Will Turner come back down from his meteoric blastoff this preseason? Will our offensive line struggle against a better, more intense pressure-style defense? Can Norwood show he’s an every-down, between the tackles running back?
Roddy and Jenks vs. One of NFL’s Best CB Tandems
White has had an excellent preseason, showing no ill effects from missing a week from the holdout. #84 has made several nice catches and many first down conversions, seeming to pick right up where he left off in terms of his chemistry with Ryan. Jenkins has had a couple of nice catches, but nothing spectacular. They both look to have their hands full with one of the NFL’s best CB tandem in Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer. Will Roddy and/or Jenks have a great night on the big two? Will our Falcons WRs be covered up by Jammer and Cromartie?
Any Pass Rush vs. One of NFL’s Best O-Lines
The defensive ends have looked pretty good in preseason, particularly rookie Lawrence Sidbury Jr. collaring two sacks against the Rams, and second year man Kroy Biermann putting good pressure and registering team high tackles. We know what Abe can do, but the big question is who will step up and grab the starting RDE spot by the throat? Jamaal Anderson continues to ire fans with his lack of sacks, and Chauncey Davis failed to put his stamp on the spot starting against the Rams. Marcus McNeill and Jeromey Clary look to be an excellent test for Anderson, Davis, Biermann, Co. Is it time to let Biermann enter the competition at RDE? Will Davis finally supplant Anderson? Will this be Anderson’s breakthrough game?
Interior DT vs. Pro-Bowler Kris Dielman
Trey Lewis has seemed to look the best so far in the competition to replace Big Grady Jackson opposite Babineaux. Assuming he can stay healthy, another good performance my put Lewis in front for good. The next in line seems to be Thomas Johnson after having a great camp and preseason. If TJ can add one more solid game, he will likely cement a spot on the roster. Peria Jerry has seemed to have a very slow adjustment to the pro game. Many fans are hoping this is his breakout rookie game. Vance Walker looks to take himself off the bubble and make the coaches carry 5 DTs. They all better buckle up their chinstrap really tight, because Kris Dielman has made the Pro-Bowl two years in a row. Will Big Trey lock up the starting spot with a great game? Can Jerry finally show some great progress as a rookie? Will Thomas Johnson and/or Vance Walker lock up a roster spot?
Peterson/Nicholas vs. LT/Sproles
The new look linebacking corps will be put to the test with one of the best potential running back tandems in the NFL, assuming LT can make it back from a couple of injury riddled years. Peterson and Nicholas will not only have to contend with one of the best all time backs in LT, but one of the best up-and-coming backs in Sproles, with both running behind a great O-Line. Not to mention the fact that they’ll be asked to contain one of the league’s greatest tight ends in Antonio Gates. Time to see what our new LBs are made of. Will LT and Sproles run all over our LBs? Is this Nicholas’ breakthrough game?
Young Secondary against the $92 Million Man
Rivers may have his issues with temper and class, but he is one of the most consistent, toughest, and best quarterbacks in the game. Rivers rarely makes mistakes and has made himself what he is with less than ideal receivers. After facing rookie Matthew Stafford, veteran Daunte Culpepper, and backup Kyle Boller, this is the real test for DeCoud, Coleman, Grimes, Jackson, Houston, and Owens. Second round draft pick William Moore will make his debut; what a test to get right off the bat. At WR, Vincent Jackson had a good to great year with the Charger, and Chris Chambers is always a deep threat and good route runner. Also look for run support with the run-heavy, play-action offense. Welcome to the NFL boys. This one should be one of the best of the night. Will Rivers torch our young secondary? Can Grimes lock up the CB spot? Will Owens continue his stellar play as a rookie?
Alright Bird Cagers, dive into the biggest game of preseason as we get ready to see what we’re truly made of live in the Terror-Dome on Saturday night @ 8 pm. If you’re heading to the game, get down there early, tailgate, and get good an revved up to make some noise in the Dome.
Next Topic Preview: Final Roster Spot Competition