Originally written on The Pass Rush  |  Last updated 9/17/12


We nailed two picks at 1:00, lost two at 4:00, and closed out Sunday of week 2 with a win thanks to the 49ers over the Lions. Tonight, we’re given an oustanding Monday Night game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. Is this one worth betting on?

DENVER BRONCOS @ ATLANTA FALCONS (-3)

The spread has not moved on this line at all, standing pat at Falcons (-3). I was expecting the majority of money to come in on the Falcons, but that just hasn’t been the case. The public loves Peyton Manning this week on the road and would rather take him with a field goal. We have a near 50-50 split on where the bets are being placed tonight. The public is actually favoring Denver (+3) with 53% of the bets coming in on Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Both teams are coming off big week 1 wins. The Falcons went on the road to destroy the Kansas City Chiefs 40-24 and the Denver Broncos took care of business at home by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.

I’ve been liking the Falcons throughout the week as I see their offense likely ending the season in the top three in both points scored and yards gained. The Falcons have also been dominant at home. The Falcons are 9-5 ATS at home in the last three years and the Broncos are 8-8 ATS in the last three years on the road. The Falcons also play very well in non-conference games. The Falcons are 6-2 ATS in the last 3 years in non-conference games, while the Broncos are 2-6 ATS. The Falcons also play very well as the favorite, going 16-8 ATS in the last three years. I like the betting trends so far for the Falcons, but don’t want to put too much emphasis on them.

There’s one key injury to the Falcons which could end up hurting them throughout the season and particularly tonight. The Falcons lost CB Brent Grimes for the season due to an Achilles injury.

When we look at this matchup, it’s very even. Both phenomenal offenses. Both solid defenses. The Broncos defense may be a bit better overall as the Broncos were great at generating pressure against the Steelers and piling up 5 sacks. The Falcons gave up 17 points in the first half against the Chiefs, but buckled down and forced three turnovers in the second half.

Many think Peyton Manning will be able to pick apart this Falcons defense and that’s a huge concern if you’re leaning Falcons (-3). I want to look into how the Falcons have played at home when facing the NFL’s elite QBs: Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. The Falcons were 6-2 at home last year with losses to the Saints (26-23) and Packers (25-14). In 2010, the Falcons were 7-1 at home, also losing to the Saints 17-14 but beating the Packers 20-17. The Falcons did beat Drew Brees on the road in 2010 though. Overall, the Falcons struggle against those elite QBs, so don’t expect tonight to be any different.

Tonight’s over/under is 51.5. The bar is set pretty high. 65% of the public likes the over. Everyone expects each team to put up a minimum of 24 here. This should be a full out aerial assault from both teams as the Denver D bottled up Pittsburgh’s run and the Falcons are moving away from the run in favor of the passing game. I’m expecting a back and forth offensive shootout tonight.

After taking a deeper look into tonight’s game, I’m going to flip-flop on my prior inclinations. The Falcons are phenomenal at home (Matt Ryan is 26-4 there), but the Falcons struggle against elite QBs. The Broncos have a better defense than the Falcons thanks to elite passrushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and solid corners on the outside with Champ Bailey and Tracey Porter. If those players show up tonight, the Falcons offense can be held in check, and the Broncos have a great shot at pulling off the outright road win. Peyton Manning looked sharp in week 1 and should be able to find holes in the Falcons defense out that just lost one of their star corners. However, Atlanta is a tough place to play which may limit the Broncos offensively.

I’m going to do one of my famous Monday Night teasers in this spot. I’m going to tack on the points to the underdog and take Denver Brocnos (+10) and tease it with the over 44.5. I originally liked the Falcons (-3), but I think you’ll see that Broncos defense is just that much better than the Falcons and it will be the Falcons playing catchup with Manning.

Prediction: Broncos 31 – Falcons 28

Pick Against the Spread: Teaser Broncos (+10) & Over 44.5

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