The Falcons will take on the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos are sitting pretty at a perfect 4-0 on the season as they continue their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions. So far this season, Denver’s defense has continued its dominance from a season ago. The Falcons are a surprising 3-1 on the year. After stumbling out of the gate to the Buccaneers, the Falcons have gone 3-0; thanks to a juggernaut offense lead by quarterback Matt Ryan and all-pro receiver Julio Jones. The game will kickoff at 4:05 PM. ET.
The Falcons have the number one ranked offense according to NFL Stats. Through four weeks, Atlanta is averaging 480 yards of total offense. To put that into perspective, the next highest total belongs to the Dallas Cowboys at 396 yards per game. The Falcons are averaging a ridiculous 38 points per game. While these averages are unsustainable, they’re nevertheless an impressive example of Atlanta’s offensive prowess.
The biggest reason for their success is the elite play of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Ryan is completing an impressive 72 percent of his passes according to NFL Stats. On the season, Ryan has thrown 11 touchdowns to only two interceptions. What makes the Falcons offense so dangerous is their ability to complete deep passes. Ryan has completed more throws of 40 plus yards (eight passes of 40+ yards according to NFL stats) than any other quarterback this season.
Now, the downside of the 2016 Atlanta Falcons: the defense. The Falcon’s have one of the worst defenses in the NFL in terms of yards allowed and points scored. Atlanta ranks 4th in points allowed with 31 one per game, and ranks 3rd worst in terms of yards given up per game according to NFL Stats. That type of production doesn’t bode well for teams trying to make the jump from mediocre to elite.
Despite Atlanta’s short comings on defense, their offense presents the toughest challenge for Denver since last year’s Super Bowl. In week four, the Broncos held the Buccaneers to a mere touchdown. The Denver defense pressured Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston all afternoon. Denver generated five sacks for a loss of 35 yards. Bronco’s cornerback, Aqib Talib picked off Winston twice in the game. He’s the Broncos top cover corner in their secondary, and despite his off the field issues, when he’s on the field, he’s an elite playmaker.
The Falcons’ Julio Jones finally broke out last week with a career game. Jones had 12 receptions for 300 yards and a score against an overwhelmed Carolina secondary. So far this season, Carolina’s defense is peanuts compared to Denver’s smothering secondary. Jones will likely matchup with either Talib or a double-team of Chris Harris Jr. and safety help over the top. The Broncos like to play man-to-man and might prefer to have Talib take on Jones by himself, but after Jones’ performance last week, it would be wise for the Broncos to consider a more conservative approach.
While the Broncos pass defense through the first four weeks is their strength, their run defense made improvements last week. Atlanta’s rushing attack ranks 6th according to NFL Stats. If the Broncos minimize Jones’s impact on the offense, then they’ll need to shift focus to their rushing attack. Enter Devonta Freeman. So far this season, he’s a Jekyll and Hyde performer; his performances are hard to predict. He’s only averaging 14 attempts a game according to NFL Stats, but he’s averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. If the Falcons have any chance of an upset, then they’ll need to rally behind the fleet-footed Freeman.
Broncos Vs Falcons Betting Lines
This matchup pits Atlanta’s unstoppable offense against the Denver’s immovable defense. It’s hard to imagine anyone going into Denver and having success with the near historic run the Broncos defense appears to be on. Expect the Falcons offense to be held under 30 points for their second time this season. Regardless of who lines up under center for the Broncos, be it Siemian or Lynch, the Broncos will find a way to pull out a victory and cover the spread.
Play: Broncos -4.5 @ BetOnline.ag