Not very many in the media had the Atlanta Falcons starting out 2-0 and firing on all cylinders from the get go, but that is exactly what has happened through the first two weeks of the NFL Season. Atlanta got off to a hot start in Kansas City when they beat down the woe-some Chiefs 40-24. Then the Falcons had their home opener in the Georgia Dome in prime-time style as hosts of ESPN's Monday Night Football. The Falcons defense opened up the game with bang and the Falcons offense sealed the deal with some gritty play at the end. All in all it was a great night for the Atlanta Falcons. Well, that was until Michael Turner was arrested for DUI and speeding roughly five hours after the game had ended. To make things worse the Falcons have to fly all the way out to San Diego on a short week.
Turner after a trip to Magic City
The Chargers should also be getting back to full strength as well. They'll still be without LT Jared Gaither, but the Chargers are expecting TE Antonio Gates and RB Ryan Matthews to be back for this game. With Gates and Matthews back expect a much more efficient Chargers offense that is looking to take advantage of a Falcons defense that has struggled against the run so far this year. It'll be important that Atlanta controls the line of scrimmage and keeps the Chargers from setting up their passing game off of play action. Expect Mike Nolan to take advantage of an OL that is still trying to get it's chemistry down after losing Kris Dielmann to retirement and being without Gaither due to injury. It will also be important that Atlanta's reserves are able to put in quality performances as the starters could still be reeling from long game on Monday and a short week overall. The player to keep a close eye on for this game is William Moore. He's had a blazing start to his season recording an INT in each game with 3 PDs and a sack so far through two weeks. Phillip Rivers is prone to making some bad throws and Moore is looking more and more like Ed Reed in the center field for an aggressive Falcon defense.
On offense the Falcons should be looking to rebound from a rather poor week two showing where they weren't able to captialize off four Denver turnovers and ended with only 27 points. I'd expect Julio Jones to have a big bounce back week as he in particular strugged against Denver and he'll likely be going up against Quentin Jammer. Also expect slot man Harry Douglas to continue to get looks as Shareece Martn will be out for this game and Marcus Gilchrist will be playing the nickel corner spot. Perhaps the biggest question heading into this week is if Atlanta will be able to establish the ground game. Michael Turner looks like he cannot get it done anymore and his DUI only complicates matters. I wouldn't be surprised if Jason Snelling and JacQuizz Rodgers got the majority of the looks in this game as they are both better receiving options than Turner. If Atlanta can get back to what they were doing week one against the Chiefs and if the defense can continue to force turnovers Atlanta should be able to walk out of Qualcomm with another W.
I fully expect Nolan to take advantage of the Chargers left tackle. I saw Abraham line up against the right tackle (the non-Clady side) multiple times on MNF. The Chargers are starting an UDFA at LT and I'm sure we will see plenty of pressure coming his way.
I know we haven't looked great against the run (playing in nickel plenty will do that) but is Ryan Matthews really a threat? He is consistently injured and will probably be rusty and potentially not in game shape.