Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos
Sunday, October 9, 2016, 4:05 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver, Colorado
Opening Line: Denver -6
Current Line: Denver -4 (-105)
Opening Total: 47
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Broncos -260 / Falcons +210
Current Money Line: Broncos -200 / Falcons +170
Two division leaders clash as the Denver Broncos host the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon. The 4-0 Broncos lead the AFC West and are one of three undefeated teams left in the league along with the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. The 3-1 Falcons lead the NFC South division. This is billed as a battle of Atlanta’s explosive offense versus Denver’s dominant defense.
Denver leads the series 9-5 against Atlanta, including a Broncos victory in Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999. Denver has gone 7-2 in the series dating back to 1988 but Atlanta won the last meeting at home 27-21 in 2012. The Falcons have won two of the last three meetings. The teams haven’t played in Denver since 2004.
Atlanta is coached by Dan Quinn. The Falcons lost at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 in week one and beat the Oakland Raiders 35-28 on the road. Atlanta has a road win at the New Orleans Saints 45-32 and last week at home against the Carolina Panthers 48-33. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 503 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception against the Panthers. Julio Jones had 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons were 2.5 point underdogs against the Panthers and the total was 48.5. Atlanta is 3-1 ATS and the over is 4-0 this season.
Denver is coached by Gary Kubiak. The Broncos have home wins over the Carolina Panthers 21-20 and Indianapolis Colts 34-20. Denver won on the road at the Cincinnati Bengals 29-17 and last week at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-7. The Broncos and Buccaneers were tied at 7-7 after the first, but Denver scored the last 20 points of the game. The game was delayed by lightning for more than an hour in the fourth quarter. The Broncos were 3.5 point underdogs against the Buccaneers and the total was 43. Denver is 4-0 ATS and the total is 3-1 this season.
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Atlanta is outscoring teams 38-31 this season. The Falcons are #1 in scoring and #29 in points allowed. Atlanta averages 479 yards per game on offense including 354 passing yards and 125 rushing yards. Atlanta leads the league in total and passing offense and is #6 in rushing. On defense, Atlanta allows 419 yards per game including 317 passing and 102 rushing yards. Atlanta is #30 in total defense and #31 against the pass. The Falcons are 24/51 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 25/55. Atlanta has forced four sacks and allowed nine this season. The Falcons are +3 in turnovers.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 72.1% of his passes for 1,473 yards with 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, plus 12 carries for 47 yards. He is an early favorite for the MVP.
Running back Devonta Freeman has 55 carries for 322 yards and a touchdown and also has 11 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Tevin Coleman has 40 carries for 129 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also has 13 catches for 181 yards. Coleman has the sickle cell trait and there was some doubt as to whether he would make the trip to the high altitude of Denver but he is listed as probable.
Receiver Julio Jones has 22 catches for 488 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Jacob Tamme has 16 catches for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a hip injury as he returns to Denver after playing with the Broncos for several seasons. Mohamed Sanu has 13 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with an shoulder injury. Receiver Justin Hardy is questionable with a shoulder injury. Kicker Matt Bryant is probable with a hamstring injury. Punter Matt Bosher is questionable with a hamstring injury. Atlanta has not signed another kicker or punter. Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report for the Falcons including five linebackers.
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Denver is outscoring teams 28-16 this season. The Broncos are #5 in scoring and #5 in points allowed. Denver averages 342 yards per game on offense including 237 passing and 106 rushing yards. On defense, Denver allows 283 total yards including 170 passing and 114 rushing yards per game. The Broncos are in the top four in total and pass defense but #21 against the rush. Denver is 20/47 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 26/60. The Broncos have forced 17 sacks and allowed 9 this season. Denver is +3 in turnovers, and the Broncos have two defensive touchdowns.
Second year quarterback Trevor Siemian has been a pleasant surprise this season. He has completed 67.3% of his passes for 824 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and has 9 carries for 32 yards. He suffered a shoulder injury last week against the Buccaneers and is out Sunday against the Falcons. Rookie Paxton Lynch came in relief for Siemien and will start against Atlanta. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown.
Running back C.J. Anderson has 73 carries for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. DeVontae Booker will also get some carries.
Receiver DeMaryius Thomas has 21 catches for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a hip injury. Emmanuel Sanders has 25 catches for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Virgil Green has 7 catches for 74 yards but is questionable with a calf injury. Two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report, along with four defensive players.
Atlanta is 5-1 ATS after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 4-1 after allowing more than 30 points, 6-2 after a cover, 5-2 overall, 3-7 in October, 1-4 in week five, 2-8 after passing for 250 yards or more, 2-9 after a win by 14 points or more, 1-6 after allowing less than 90 yards, and 0-6 after allowing more than 350 total yards.
Denver is 6-0-1 ATS overall, 5-0-1 after a straight up win, on grass, 4-0-1 at home, 4-0 after a cover, 6-1 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 5-1-1 against teams with winning records, 4-1-1 against teams with winning road records, 7-2 in October, and 1-4 after allowing less than 15 points.
The Falcons are great on offense but the defense is horrendous. I don’t know if Denver can stop the Atlanta offense completely but they can slow it down. Atlanta can’t stop anyone on defense even against a rookie quarterback making his first start. Rookies have done really well in the NFL at quarterback this year, and I think Lynch continues that trend. I like the Broncos to win going away in a high scoring game.