Quite possibly the best pass rusher in the league.

This week Denver faces the high-powered offense of the Atlanta Falcons, in Atlanta. As I’ve said before, Denver has the toughest first half schedule in the league, and this game is just another milestone in a monstrous marathon to the bye week.

In week 1, Atlanta crushed the Kansas City Chiefs, 40-24. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan lead the league with a monster passer rating of 136.4. He was 23 for 31 and 299 yards with 4 TDs. Wide Receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White were huge and while Running Back Mike Turner didn’t have a big game, he remains a dangerous threat to teams pulling defenders from the line.

But, Atlanta played what is turning out to be one of the worst defensive units on the field who were missing four of their starters, so racking up big numbers against second string guys isn’t very impressive.

On top of that, Atlanta allowed the Chiefs to run for 152 yards – Jamal Charles had 87 of those yards – and Matt Cassel to pass for 253 yards. If it wasn’t for Cassel’s bad decisions – and turnovers – that game could have been a lot closer. But the most crucial bit to Atlanta’s defense was the Achilles tear of star Cornerback Brent Grimes. This is going to put a lot of pressure on a secondary that did not have a lot of talented depth.

Which brings us to Denver. While Ryan had a great game against the Chiefs, Peyton Manning also had a great game against one of the toughest defenses in the league. Manning 19 for 26 and threw for 253 yards with 2 TDs. That would be TDs number 400 and 401, making Manning only the third – and fastest – QB to ever throw 400+ TDs. Denver’s defense overwhelmed the Pittsburgh offense, holding them to just 19 points and 284 total yards. Denver also got five sacks against Pittsburgh’s QB, whereas the Chiefs best pass rusher didn’t play against Atlanta in week one.

My Prediction: Denver victory, 35-28

Denver’s defense is much stouter than the Chiefs and will do a better job of limiting Jones and White, though Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez will likely have a big game as Denver’s linebackers struggled a bit in coverage and containment. More importantly, Denver Linebacker Von Miller and Defense End Elvis Dumervil, along with rookie Derek Wolfe will get tremendous pressure on Ryan. With the loss of Grimes, Atlanta’s secondary is going to be exposed and Manning will be surgical in testing its weaknesses.

The rest of the predictions:

  • Manning will throw for 300 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints
  • Denver will have combined rushing for 200+ yds, 2 TDs
  • Denver’s defense will get 3 sacks, 1 Int and 1 Forced Fumble.