Point Spread (Danny Sheridan’s odds as published in USA Today): Atlanta is favored by 3 with an over of 50 1/2
Key Offensive Match-up: The Falcons have an injured starting right tackle in Tyson Clabo (hip) and a left tackle in Sam Baker who lost his job midway through last season as a result of injury and performance issues. Baker will have to fend off one of the game’s premier edge rushers in right defensive end Elvis Dumervil and, depending on where he lines up, Clabo could have to contend with strong side linebacker Von Miller. If the Falcons can keep quarterback Matt Ryan “clean” – not hit or sacked – they have a chance to put up some big numbers, as they did in Week 1 in scoring 40 points over Kansas City. If not, Ryan will not be able to get the ball downfield to wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and the Falcons will be at a huge disadvantage. Key Defensive Match-up: With Brent Grimes out for the season with an Achilles’ tendon injury, Dunta Robinson takes over one of the starting cornerback spots in the base defense and Christopher Owens will play the slot in the nickel package, formerly played by Robinson. Owens, in his fourth season, has struggled in the past, most notably in a playoff rout at the hands of Green Bay in January 2011. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is sure to test Owens early and often. If he proves a weak link, the Falcons could be in for a long night.
Inactives: For the Falcons: quarterback Dominique Davis, safety Charles Mitchell, cornerback Terrence Johnson, center Joe Hawley, offensive tackle Lamar Holmes, defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, defensive end Cliff Matthews. For the Broncos: quarterback Caleb Hanie, wide receiver Andre Caldwell, cornerback Chris Harris, running back Ronnie Hillman, offensive lineman Philip Blake, offensive lineman Chris Kuper.