Both Denver and Atlanta had double-digit wins that were significant in their own way. Denver won in Peyton Manning's first game as a Bronco while Matt Ryan and the Falcons had a huge game in Arrowhead Stadium.
My stat-based website, www.queuestats.com, focuses on production and efficiency rather than the intangibles. I do not ignore the intangibles, I use them together with numbers to create as clear of a picture as possible.
Denver at Atlanta is my game of the week, featuring two top-10 teams according to my team efficiency statistics after only one game. This is not a "power ranking", but it is very accurate after a full season's worth of data.
I wrote my preview on my website, and you can view it here. I will do this every week, even if Denver isn't one of the teams featured. With Denver in this game, I made an attempt to be as objective as possible. Obviously, I feel very good about Denver's chances of winning this game on the road against a good Atlanta team.
Still, this preview breaks down each team according to the most important stats in football. I won't repeat everything I wrote in my preview, so here are some things to think about before the game.
Denver's biggest reason for ranking 7th overall in team efficiency was their rating in my miscellaneous stat. This averages every team's performances in net turnovers, penalties and net third and fourth down conversions. While they rank 7th in net points, 5th in net quarterback rating and 9th in net plays per touchdown, they rank 16th in my net misc stat.
While Denver's interception all but ended the game, it took them over 55 minutes to force that, which means they were playing down a turnover for much of the game. Credit should go to the defense for limiting Pittsburgh's offense.
Denver committed 6 penalties for 49 yards, and each of them seemingly came at a bad time (not that there is ever a good time for them). These penalties extended Pittsburgh's drives and kept them in the game.
These penalties, along with some conservative play-calling on defense, allowed Pittsburgh to convert the 4th highest rate of third and fourth downs in week one.
These are small things that make a huge difference in close games between winning and losing. Against a tough Atlanta team on the road, these factors will be very important to keep an eye on during the game.
Both Denver and Atlanta have a near-consensus advantage while on offense. Ironically, both defenses have a slight advantage when it comes to negative plays. The difference is Denver ranks number one in the NFL in negative plays, forcing a combined 23 sacks, TFL and QB hits in week one.
The key for them will be to duplicate that performance against a team that ranks 6th in the NFL in negative plays allowed after the first week.
As I said in the game preview, injuries played a big role in both games, with Kansas City and Pittsburgh both missing key players that would have made scoring more difficult for Atlanta and Denver.
While many fans seem to feel every prediction needs to be "bold" or "contrary to popular opinion", I feel that is quite useless. I am basing my opinion off of the data and situations from week one. This game appears to be a toss-up and will most likely come down to execution.
Home teams like Atlanta and Baltimore tend to execute far better at home than they do on the road, so I am giving Atlanta a slight edge in this game.
Of course, that is my professional analysis. Personally, I feel this is definitely a game Denver can win and I expect them to play well.
Since there is no poll, feel free to write your keys to the game and potential final score below.