Top 4 Things YOU Should Know About... Falcons-Broncos Week 2

The stage is set for the Peyton Manning-Matt Ryan battle in the Georgia Dome. We'll let you know what to look for when watching tonight.

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With fifteen games down and one left to go in week 2, football fans in the Dirty South and the Mile High City finally get to see their teams take the field for the second time. Both of these teams come into this game flying high, with the Falcons demolishing the Chiefs 48-28 and the Broncos running circles around the geriatric-looking Steelers in week 1. The Matt Ryan vs. Peyton Manning match-up pits two of the top six fantasy QBs entering the week against one another, with Ryan scoring an NFL-high 31 FP in week 1 and Manning looking like he hasn't lost a beat at 20 FP of his own. But what do we project will take place this week? numberFire's statistical analysis has the answer.

So Over It

As if the skyrocketing fantasy points weren't enough, Vegas has given an even better indication that offenses are exploding in the NFL this season. 14 of the 16 NFL games this weekend featured an over/under of at least 40 points pre-game. And as it turns out, that still wasn't high enough. Of the fifteen NFL games already played in week 2, the "over" has won ten times (67%), including a couple games (see: Bucs/Giants or Bengals/Browns) that absolutely demolished the mark. The over/under line set for this Broncos/Falcons game is at 51, the second highest of any over/under set this weekend. And while both the Broncos and Falcons entered week one in the top 10 in numberFire's defensive rankings, the Broncos are now down to #12 and the Falcons are now down to #18. The numberFire stats geeks feel very strongly about this over/under spread as one of our two five-star over/under picks this week (taking the Packers/Bears game under was correct). But you'll need to subscribe to our premium product to see whether we believe this game will follow the trend.

That Sweet Georgia Home Cooking

There's just something about that Atlanta air... or lack of fresh air, I should say. Especially in recent years, analysts have talked about how the Georgia Dome gives the Atlanta Falcons an advantage. But do the stats say the same thing? If you're looking at the final scores of the Falcons' home games, the answer is quite clearly yes. The Falcons have gone 6-2 or better in each of the past four seasons at home, ever since Matt Ryan has been their starting quarterback. That 26-6 combined home record is one of the best in the NFL - no other team in the league has had at least six home wins per season every year since 2008. Of the six total losses the Falcons have had, only two have been by more than four points: a 25-14 loss against the Packers last season, and a 34-7 loss against the Eagles in 2009. The third largest loss at home over that stretch was against these very Broncos, 24-20 in 2008, but the teams were so much different that numberFire wouldn't take that game into account. Even if you're looking at the margin of victories for Atlanta wins, it still bodes well for the Dirty Birds. Most Falcons home wins recently have been by more than the three points Vegas currently has them favored. In fact, of their 26 home wins in the past four seasons, only two (San Francisco in 2010 and Chicago in 2008) have been victories by less than three points.

Never Going Back(s)

For those of you relying on their Michael Turner or Willis McGahee to win your fantasy match-up tonight, I would get some Tums ready. Both players were ranked outside of numberFire's top 20 entering the weekend, and there's no reason to change their outlook now. Turner had one of the weaker week 1 performances for all running backs, registering a -0.36 NEP per rush mark and a pitiful 18% success rate on those rushes. As the game wore on, the Falcons started to lean more on Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling; Turner only ended the night with 48% of the Falcons' total rushes. Facing a tough Denver defense, it makes sense why he's only numberFire's #23 fantasy RB this week. McGahee, meanwhile, was only slightly more effective, finishing his game against the Steelers with a -0.27 NEP per rush mark and a 31% success rate. He didn't have the same problem staying on the field as Michael Turner; his 16 rushing attempts were 59% of the Broncos' total on the game. But numberFire simply does not see him as a TD threat in this game. His 0.42 projected TDs is currently his lowest projected total until he faces the Panthers in week 10 and is in the bottom half of all starting running backs this week. When coupled with McGahee not being a receiving threat - he only received one target in week 1 and didn't catch it - I wouldn't expect too much from him in this game.

A Pair, A Pair

Both the Broncos and the Falcons have two solid receivers that should turn out to be equal targets for their QBs according to numberFire's projected WR statistics. Roddy White is the top projected receiver of the group, entering week 2 as the #10 receiver on our big board. While Julio Jones isn't far behind at #14, White earns the slight nod for one reason: catch rate. Both receivers saw similar targets in week 1: Jones had 9 while White had 8. But White was able to convert his targets better, finishing with a 75% catch rate to Jones's still solid but lower 67% rate. Both players finished with similar catch rates last season, with White at 56% and Jones at 57%, but if Roddy can keep up the catching advantage he had in week 1, he'll make for the slightly better play. Eric Decker remains over top of Demaryius Thomas for a slightly different reason: projected yardage. numberFire projects Decker to have about 1.5 catches and 11 yards more than Thomas in week 2, mostly based off of past targets. And while Thomas remains the better home run threat - and a projected 0.36 TDs compared to Decker's 0.19 TDs reflects that - I wouldn't be assured of either receiver catching a TD pass this week against a tough Falcons secondary. When in doubt, go with the sure play rather than the home run hitter. That's Decker.