The season began well for both the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos as the teams dominated their opponents and rode the strong and accurate throwing arms of their quarterbacks to victory.
With Denver in a bit of a rebuilding stage and Atlanta hoping they can finally break through with the veteran personnel they have, these two teams now face against each other in a match-up Monday Night Football (MNF) fans will not want to miss (8.30pm ET).
Can Peyton Manning Bring Back the Mile High Magic?
When Hall of Fame (HOF) quarterback John Elway was with the Denver Broncos, there was something to be said of the magic surrounding the team. During this time, Elway led the team to five appearances and two wins in the Superbowl. Simply put, there was magic in the thin Colorado air and it was a great time to be a Broncos fan.
Unfortunately for the Broncos and their fans, when Elway retired in 1999, he seemed to take all of that magic with him. It took a while for the Broncos to record a winning season after he was gone let alone make the playoffs. Guys like Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler and most recently college standout Tim Tebow held the reins but none were able to bring back that magic.
Enter Peyton Manning, quite possibly one of the best to ever play the game of football.
For his entire illustrious NFL career, Manning was the mainstay of a strong and powerful Indianapolis Colts offense. He led the team to a Superbowl title and another appearance. He also won three NFL MVP Awards and became known as the best in history when it came to execution of the two-minute drill.
There was no reason for the Colts to get rid of him but then the unthinkable happened and the aging Manning, who hadn’t missed a game in his entire career, found himself with a bad neck injury and an expiring contract. After requiring the need of three neck surgeries last offseason and being forced to miss the entire 2011 season, the Colts made the decision to part with the pro-bowl QB and allow him to sign elsewhere.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
-105 Broncos +3pts; -115 Falcons -3pts
Bovada (all US except Maryland, Utah, NY, Washington):
-110 Broncos +3pts; -110 Falcons -3pts
Bet365 (for UK & all non-USA residents):
20/21 Broncos +3pts; 20/23 Falcons -3pts
The Colts like many other teams seemed to believe Manning’s NFL career was relatively over. Not many believed there was much left in his tank and if there was, it certainly wouldn’t be to the caliber of the Peyton Manning of old. That’s where John Elway came in.
Elway, who had seem his expected successors and protégés go by the wayside, had returned to the organization as VP of Football Operations. From one Superbowl, MVP and pro-bowl QB to the next, he saw that Manning could still play to the level he always had. He insisted the team meet with the QB and Elway himself made sure to attend the meeting and sell the Broncos to Manning.
In the end, it worked and No. 18 found himself wearing the orange and black instead of the blue and white.
Even though Elway had the confidence to take a chance on Manning, no one really knew exactly what would come of the experiment until the first game of the season. Needless to say, Manning proved his doubters wrong as he picked apart a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that just last season was the best in the NFL.
Manning completed over 70 percent of his passes, threw for 253 yards, passed for two touchdowns, zero interceptions and led the retooled Broncos offense to a 31-19 blowout over the Steelers.
Battle of the Heavyweights: Peyton Manning vs. Matt Ryan
For as good as Manning was against the Steelers, Matt Ryan of the Falcons was that much better against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ryan threw for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns, zero interceptions and over 70 percent of his passes. He had a passer rating of 136.4.
To talk more about the Manning-Ryan blockbuster match-up, it is worth noting that these are two quarterbacks who have really excelled under pressure, something both are likely to face on Monday.
Ryan loaded the stat sheet against a KC defense that is notably less talented then the one in Pittsburgh Manning picked apart. Because he quickly staked the Falcons to the lead, Ryan was really never under pressure the entire game.
It will be a different story against Denver however as they have one of the best one-two punches when it comes to pressuring the QB in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Together these two accumulated 21 sacks last year and Miller already has two this year. Against Ryan, they will really put pressure on him.
A Falcons win will really depend on how well Ryan, who has garnered the nickname, “Matty Ice,” because of his ability to stay cool and composed under pressure, is able to handle the Broncos front line and especially the blitz.
Last season when blitzed, Ryan had some struggles and put up the worst of his 2011 numbers when in this situation. Denver is known, especially with Miller and Dumervil, for a tendency to blitz. Ryan will have to find a way to read the blitz and find open receivers if the Falcons want a chance to win this game at home.
Manning could also find himself under pressure but for him, pressure is something that has rarely fazed him throughout his career. When blitzed, Manning’s stats are actually better as he has clear reads of the field and the play and most importantly knows and how to effectively change a play.
He faced pressure and was sacked just two times in thirteen chances. Even after missing a full season, Manning showed that he still has the ability to escape trouble in the pocket and keep a play alive.
- Ever since the Matt Ryan era began in 2008, the Falcons have enjoyed home cooking at the Georgia Dome. Over the past four seasons the team is 26-6 at home and during this time they have never lost a home game before the fifth week of the season.
- Asante Samuel of the Falcons currently has the fourth most interceptions of all active players with 45 and Champ Bailey of the Broncos currently has the third most with 50. Both of these defensive backs have the ability to disrupt the passing game and could cause Ryan and Manning some trouble if the ball is thrown in their direction.
Broncos at Falcons Betting Picks Verdict
The Broncos do pose a great offensive threat with Peyton Manning and in their run game. On defense, they have guys that have the ability to get to the passer and they have players who could rattle Matt Ryan. Both teams were able to utilize the no-huddle offense last week to great success but Denver, especially with Manning’s quick wit, was able to really make Pittsburgh pay on defense.
Still, and even with the Falcons having to cover a three point spread, I think Ryan and company will pull out a win. The Atlanta offense has just as many weapons as Denver and they have a QB who year-by-year has improved and who now is emerging as one of the best in the league. Plus, it is really hard to pick against a team that has had so much success at home.
- In what will likely turn into a high-scoring affair, take Atlanta Falcons as the pick to win the game and cover the -3 points spread. Americans should bet with BetOnline Sportsbook (accepts all the US) @ odds of -115. UK & all non-Americans place the wager with Bet365 @ 20/23.