#465 Atlanta Falconsvs.#466 Denver Broncos
Written by Chuck D
When and Where: Sunday, Oct. 9, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo. 4:05pm EDT (FOX)
Spread: Denver -7; Total: 47.5
The defending world champions have picked up right where they left off. Four games into the 2016 campaign the Broncos are sitting with an undefeated record and in first place in the AFC West. Perhaps what was not expected this season was the hot start by the Falcons. Atlanta has won three straight contest and sit in first place themselves in the NFC South, already with a two-game lead over every other team in the division. Denver leads the all-time series 9-5 and has won seven of the last nine against the Falcons, but it was Atlanta that won the last meting, 27-21 back in 2012.
After opening up the season with a loss at home to Tampa Bay, all the Falcons have done is win, win, win. First came a trip to the West coast where they beat the Raiders, which is still their only loss on the season. They followed that up with a big Monday night win in New Orleans and this past weekend took out the defending NFC Champions, 48-33. Against the Panthers, the Falcons jumped out to a quick 14-0 after one quarter and never trailed in the ballgame. Julio Jones had a career day with 300 receiving yards to along with a 75-yard touchdown.
Matt Ryan went off as well, connecting on 28 of his 37 passes for a record 503 yards and four scores. It was just the 19th 500-yard game in NFL history. The team has now scored 93 points in their last two games and three of the squad’s four touchdown drives against Carolina were over 90 yards. Devonta Freeman got in on the action with a touchdown of his own and finished with 57 yards on the day. The offense will have to stay hot against the Broncos in what is shaping up to be a battle of the immovable object vs. the irresistible force.
Denver may have lost Peyton Manning, but truth be told, he was not asked to do much last year anyways, and Trevor Siemian and/or Paxton Lynch have looked just as good as the elder Manning did last season, if not better. The reality is that the team relies on their defense to win games and offensive production is just a bonus. In Sunday’s 27-7 road-victory over Tampa Bay, Siemian went down with a shoulder injury late in the first half before being relieved by Lynch. The team did not skip a beat and Lynch went 14-for-24 for 170 yards and a touchdown.
Siemian is listed as day-to-day with the injury, but he received head coach Gary Kubiak’s vote of confidence earlier this week. The Orange Crush defense held the Bucs to just 215 total yards and 72 on the ground. They also had two interceptions and a forced fumble. Offensively Demaryius Thomas continued his hot start, pulling in six catches for 94 yards as well as a touchdown. Thomas now has 21 receptions on the year to go along with 332 yards and two scores.
The Broncos defense will face their toughest test on Sunday when the Falcons high-octane O comes to town. While Denver is certainly good, this is your typical trap game. Atlanta is playing some good football right now, and should keep this contest within a score when all is said and done.
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Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.