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TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 3: Atlanta Falcons At San Diego Chargers

Falcons
Chargers
Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants
(credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
(credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Matt Ryan took a big step up the ladder with a win over the Broncos in Week Two. Not only did he get the best of Peyton Manning, he completed 24-of-36 passes for 219 yards and two touchdown. His late fourth-quarter completion to Julio Jones clinched the game for the Falcons.
Philip Rivers seems determined to put last year’s disappointing season behind him. He has gotten off to a sharp start and he is putting the ball to spots where his receivers can make plays. He gets rid of the ball quickly and decisively.
Offense
Winner The Falcons have explosive players throughout the lineup. Running back Michael Turner finishes his runs well and punishes tacklers. Roddy White knows how to get open and run after the catch. Julio Jones has explosive speed but needs to hold on to the ball a bit better. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is good but no longer a star.
The Chargers have depth at running back. While Ronnie Brown has been disappointing, Jackie Battle ran for 69 yards and two touchdowns in Week Two. Malcolm Floyd is a solid wideout who can make big plays and keep drives alive on third-down plays.
Defense
Winner The Falcons were fast and well-prepared in their Monday night victory over Manning and the Broncos. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas is a dependable tackler. Thomas DeCoud had five tackles and an interception against the Broncos.
The Chargers are off to a solid start defensively and they shut down the Tennessee passing attack in Week Two. They will find that much tougher against the Falcons. Safety Eric Weddle is a solid hitter and can also come up with the interception.
Special Teams
The Falcons have confidence that Matt Bryant will hit big field goals when he gets the opportunity. He was 2-of-2 against the Broncos. Jacquizz Rodgers is a big-play threat as a kickoff returner.
The Chargers have a lot of confidence in their special teams. Nate Kaeding has decent leg strength and head coach Norv Turner has confidence in Kaeding’s ability to hit clutch field goals. Punter Mike Scifres averaged 49.2 yards on his four punts against Tennessee.

The Winner Is

Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants
Winner Falcons
2 out of 4

Despite the edges, this appears to be a difficult assignment for the Falcons as they most go across the country on a short week to take on a Chargers team that has gotten off to a strong start after a couple of disappointing seasons. This should be an outstanding duel and the home team may just have a slight edge.

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