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When the Falcons Have the Ball


Falcon receivers Tony Martin and Terance Mathis have been at worst solid and at best spectacular this season. Tight end O.J. Santiago has been instrumental to the Falcons' offense, blocking for Anderson on the outside while also developing into a serious receiving threat.

At the age of 33, quarterback Chris Chandler is finally getting a well-deserved taste of success. He was drafted by the Colts in 1988 and in last ten injury-plagued years has played partial seasons with nothing but NFL doormats — the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Rams, and Falcons. After his first-year 9-7 finish in Indianapolis, Chandler hadn't been a part of a team with a winning record. Until this year.

While the Broncos boast the top running back in the NFL, the Falcons have the runner-up. After two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 1996 and 1997, Jamal Anderson truly broke out in 1998 with 1,846 yards and 16 touchdowns (14 on the ground). The Broncos will take Minnesota's lead and push their safeties up to try to stop Anderson, thereby putting more pressure on cornerbacks Darrien Gordon and Ray Crockett. Falcon receivers Tony Martin and Terance Mathis have been at worst solid and at best spectacular this season, reaping the rewards of Chandler's health more than anyone else. Tight end O.J. Santiago (at 6-foot-7) has been instrumental to the Falcons' offense this year, serving as a big body on the outside of the line to block for Anderson while also developing into a serious receiving threat for Chandler.

Linebackers John Mobley and the veteran Bill Romanowski anchor the Broncos defensive unit that in the past four games (two in the playoffs) have given up just 88 total rushing yards (36, 24, 14 and 14 respectively).

Denver's passing defense was ranked 26th out of 30 teams in 1998. Keep in mind, however, that Denver blew out a lot of teams this year, forcing opposing teams to abandon the run and causing the secondary to drop back and play a more conservative defense towards the end of the games which allowed teams to accumulate yards underneath.




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