A big problem for the Colts in recent weeks has been turnovers.
Curtis Painter has to make good decisions. Last week, he threw an interception where he was passing it to Garcon, was a pretty good throw, but it was an awful decision to even pass to him. He needs to make good throws, and he needs time to do it. The Falcons have a great pass rush, so the O-line needs to step up and make blocks. John Abraham and Ray Edwards are going to be tough to stop, so the team has to call quick passes. That means slants, screens, quick ins/outs.
Painter should only try to go for the long bomb, when the play-action is developed. To also help Curtis, the Colts should put Joseph Addai in there to help block. Speaking of Addai, he should be back and ready so they should really get him on some runs, but don't overwork him. Give him 13-15 carries, and Carter about 6 carries. They need to effectively mix the pass and the run against the Falcons, because they have beat teams that have either gone run-heavy or pass-heavy. Reduce the 3 n out drives.
On defense, Michael Turner should be tough to stop due to his raw power and underrated speed. With that being said, the linebackers (Angerer, and Conner especially) have to get to him quickly and stop him. Antoine Bethea could come into the box and make some plays too. They really need to stop him or hold him to under 4 yards per carry. Now, you're not out of the woods, because Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback. He has Roddy White who is a monster, and Tony Gonzalez who is a beast. Roddy White will be going up against Jerraud Powers, which should be interesting. Maybe they could double team White with Caldwell. The Colts have been pretty good against tight ends, but they should keep an eye on him. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis also need to wake up, they have been silent in the last couple of weeks. They need to get some pressure on the quarterback, and the Falcons don't have the greatest O-line so it's possible. Reduce the big plays, and make them earn every yard. Last, but not least, the Colts CANNOT dig themself in a big hole early, or they'll lose.
What The Falcons Need to Do To Win
The Falcons could go pass-heavy on offense and win this game. It's risky to go run-heavy, so go pass-heavy. The Falcons have Roddy White who is half a foot taller than Jerraud Powers. Don't try to go for the long bomb, just get the short passes. The offensive line needs to give him enough time to make those passes. The offense is nothing to worry about.
On defense, the Falcons need to shut down the Colts running game, so that they have to rely on Curtis Painter to make 40+ throws, which is something he really can't handle. They just need to put pressure on Painter and stop the run, that's all and they can win. Simple!
Breakout Performers/ Key Matchup
For the Colts, it's Curtis Painter. He needs to make the right decisions and good throws to win this game. If he makes bad decisions and throws some picks, it's an easy win for the Falcons.
For the Falcons, it's the offensive line. If the line can give Ryan protection, and open holes for Turner to run through, they'll easily win. If the Colts can pressure Ryan, like did they to Roesthlisberger, and even force some turnovers, it's going to be a close game.
The key matchup is Jerraud Powers vs Roddy White. Whoever wins that matchup can really change the course of the match. If Jerraud can shut him down, then they'll significantly reduce the passing game. If Roddy wins, and just beats him all day, they'll passing game will take off and they'll easily move the ball into the redzone and score touchdowns.
What I Think Will Happen
I think that at halftime the score will be 10-3 for the Falcons. Then the Falcons will get the ball in the second half and score on the first drive. At the end of the third quarter, the Falcons will tack on another score and the score will be 24-3. The Colts will eventually score with a Reggie Wayne touchdown. The Falcons will be too good for the Colts The game will then be pretty much over. Curtis Painter will go 23-41 for 267 yards and 1 touchdown + 1 interception. Joseph Addai will get 12 rushes for 47 yards and Delone Carter will have 8 rushes for 55 yards. Reggie Wayne will be the best receiver with 6 catches for 77 yards with 1 touchdown. Pierre Garcon will have 5 catches for 49 yards, Austin Collie will have 2 catches for 31 yards, and Dallas Clark will have 5 catches for 61 yards. Joseph Addai will have the rest of the catches. Matt Ryan will have a big day, going 25 for 34 for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Turner will have 22 rushes for 98 yards and 1 touchdown. Roddy White will have 8 catches for 145 yards and 1 touchdown. Tony Gonzalez will have 6 catches for 49 yards, and Harry Douglas will have 4 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Stephen Nicholas will have the interception. It won't be a pretty game...
Falcons 24 vs Colts 10
Last Time They Played
2007 NFL Season -- Week 12
Colts 31 vs Falcons 13