Atlanta Falcons most intriguing matchups of 2015 – #4


Today, we move on in our “Falcons 50” series, looking at the most intriguing matchups the Atlanta Falcons will face this season. What is at No. 4?

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50″ posts here.

The “Falcons 50” countdown has entered single digits. That means football is coming. What are the most intriguing matchups of the season that the Falcons will face? Here is number four.

No. 4 – Falcons defense vs Colts offense

Last season, the Atlanta Falcons’ pass defense was the worst in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts were putting up more receiving yards and touchdowns than any other team. If this game was played a year ago, Andrew Luck would probably be sitting comfortably on the bench in the second half with the game wrapped up.

So what makes this battle intriguing? Because this will be the biggest test of the new-look Falcons defense. We will be able to see how much Dan Quinn has transformed the unit when one of the league’s most dangerous offensive units roll into the Georgia Dome.

What’s scary is that the Colts’ passing game could be even more dangerous this year. Luck will not only be throwing the football to T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, but also free agent acquisition Andre Johnson and draftee Phillip Dorsett. Indianapolis also swapped Trent Richardson for Frank Gore at running back. Adding some legitimacy to the ground game puts more strain on the defense, and in turn gives the receivers more opportunities.

That’s the bad news. So what’s the good news?

Luck is prone to turning the football over, and the Falcons defense under Quinn will be built to force takeaways. It all starts up front with the pass rush, which is returning from it’s vacation last year. Atlanta put up just 22 sacks in 2014, and we can expect this number to increase with the offseason additions made. Eighth overall pick Vic Beasley has star potential, and he will be complemented by free agent acquisitions Justin Durant, Adrian Clayborn and O’Brien Schofield. Brooks Reed should be healthy then, too.

Ramping up the pressure on Luck is crucial to beating him. It’s easier said than done, of course, as Luck is one of the league’s elite quarterbacks for a reason—he is hard to stop. But due to his aggressive passing nature and no fear when it comes to throwing the football into tight windows, the Falcons can force turnovers.

For this to happen, they will need to first of all generate the pressure. If Luck throws a poor ball, it’s then down to a member of the secondary to make the play. Even better would be if the defense can strip the ball from Luck before we can throw. Luck fumbled the football eight times last season.

This is the toughest matchup for the Falcons in 2015, and due to all the change on the defensive side of the ball, it’s one of the most intriguing also.

What are your thoughts?

Next: Four Falcons whose stock is rising

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