MNF Chaser: Denver-Atlanta

Peyton Manning makes slight underdog Broncos a good bet

Originally Published: September 17, 2012
By Ben Fawkes | ESPN Insider
ManningRon Chenoy/US PresswirePeyton Manning under center makes the Broncos a good bet as an underdog.

After a wild Week 2 of NFL football during which underdogs went 9-6, we turn our attention to a tantalizing "Monday Night Football" matchup between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.

Both teams looked good in Week 1 victories -- the Broncos at home over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Falcons on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Peyton Manning didn't look rusty at all leading the Broncos' offense, while Matt Ryan looked downright lethal for the Falcons, throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns.

However, as ESPN Insider Ron Jaworski noted in his breakdown of the Falcons' no-huddle offense, one of the best ways to disrupt it is quite obvious: hit the quarterback. With Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos have the pass-rushers to do just that. According to Pro Football Focus, Ryan's completion percentage fell to 44.7 percent last season when he was under pressure .

Indeed, it's difficult to compare this year's Broncos team to last year's because of the change in quarterbacks, but for what it's worth, Denver was 6-2 against the spread (ATS) on the road last season. As an underdog by 3.5 points or more, Denver was 5-4 ATS. However, the Broncos are far more dangerous on offense with Manning under center.

Atlanta was 5-2-1 ATS at home last year and covered by an average of 3.38 points. As Dave Tuley noted in his Week 2 picks column, the Falcons are an impressive 21-11-1 ATS at home with Ryan as the starter.

This should be a fun game on Monday night and a real test to see whether the Falcons' defense can stop an elite quarterback, and to determine just how good Atlanta's no-huddle offense really is. Who will cover the game? Below you'll find analysis of potential line and total movement from bookmaker Jay Kornegay of The Las Vegas Hotel and a pick on the spread from handicapper The Sports Boss.