The chips are down. If the Denver Broncos can get to .500 at the midway point of the season, their odds of being in the conversation for one of the Wildcard spots in the AFC, after starting the season 0-3, go up dramatically.
The Atlanta Falcons stand in the way. The Broncos sit at 3-4 on the season, the Falcons at 2-6. Two of Denver's wins have come on the road in Eastern Standard Time, which had heretofore been a thorn in the Broncos' side.
One more road win and the Broncos will surpass last season's away victory total. Denver last won three road games in a season in 2018.
Can the Broncos get a third East Coast road win on the season? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, join us as we live-blog and discuss DENvsATL here in our weekly Open Thread. Dive into the conversation — it's easy — by simply going to the top of the site and in the bottom right-hand corner of the Mile High Huddle logo, click the follow button.
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What to Watch For
Bradley Chubb | OLB: Needs 0.5 sacks to increase his sack streak to five games, which would tie for the longest of his career (2018, Games 6-10).
Melvin Gordon | RB: Needs 49 receiving yards to reach 2,000 receiving yards in his career.
Kareem Jackson | S: Needs one pass defensed to become the 13th player (9th active) since he entered the league in 2010 to record 100 passes defensed.
Jerry Jeudy | WR: Needs 41 yards to become the fourth Broncos rookie WR to reach 400 receiving yards by his eighth game (Eddie Royal - 2008, 625 yds.; Ricky Nattiel- 1987, 412 yds.; Rich Upchuch- 1975, 409 yds.).
Brandon McManus | K: Needs 10 points to pass Matt Prater (2007-13) for the third-most points (682) in franchise history.
Michael Ojemudia | CB: Needs one forced fumble to become the ninth rookie cornerback to force three fumbles in a single season.
Tim Patrick | WR: Needs 113 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for his career.
Justin Simmons | S: Needs one interception to become the sixth Bronco to record 14 picks during his first five seasons with the teams (since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger).
Broncos kick-off. Falcons to start with the ball.
Matt Ryan connects with TE Hayden Hurst for 11-yard gain on first down.
On 1st-&-10, Broncos stuff Todd Gurley for no gain.
On 2nd-&-10, Ryan hits Julio Jones for a 5-yard gain.
On 3rd-&-5, Ryan hits Olamide Zaccheaus on a crosser to move the chains.
On 2nd-&-6, Gurley breaks one for 13 yards. Falcons now in Broncos' territory.
Josey Jewell tackles Gurley on the outlet pass for a 4-yard loss.
Ryan hits Hurst for a screen to pick up seven yards and make third down slightly more manageable.
On 3rd-&-7, Ryan's pass is tipped at the line by the blitzing Justin Simmons. Incomplete.
Falcons will attempt a 52-yarder and it's good. Younghoe Koo connects. Falcons get on the board.
Falcons 3, Broncos 0
On 1st-&-10, Phillip Lindsay picks up three yards.
On 2nd-&-7, Drew Lock hits TE Noah Fant, who shakes a tackle and romps 32 yards into Falcons' territory. Fant dinged up on the play.
On 1st-&-10, Jarrett Grady blows up the Broncos' O-line and tackles Lindsay for a 5-yard loss.
On 2nd-&-15, Lock is flushed from the pocket, throws incomplete.
On 3rd-&-15, Lock hits DaeSean Hamilton with a short crosser, picking up nine yards but is tackled on the Falcons' 41-yard line.
Sam Martin makes his 500th career punt, dropping it 26 yards downfield to be fair-caught at the Falcons' 15-yard line.
Fant's ankle has been re-taped. He tested it on the sideline with a sprint or two and then rejoined his teammates. Looks like he'll return.
Gurley picks up three yards on first down.
Gurley bounces it outside but Michael Ojemudia misses the chance to tackle him for no gain. Picks up three yards as Kareem Jackson knocks Gurley out of bounds.
On 3rd-&-3, Ryan hits Russell Gage to move the chains.
On 1st-&-10, Ryan targets Davontae Harris, hitting Jones for 6-yard gain.
On 3rd-&-1, Falcons handoff to Keith Smith, who picks up just one yard, moving the chains.
On 3rd-&-11, Ryan goes deep for Zaccheaus, connects for the 51-yard touchdown. Davontae Harris burned on the play and flagged for pass interference. Extra point is good.
Falcons 10, Broncos 0
Tyrie Cleveland returns the kick 26 yards. Two flags fall. One on Denver for illegal substitution (on a kick-off?) and the other on Atlanta for facemask.
Broncos miss the chance to get 15 free yards added to the end of Cleveland's run. Tom McMahon's special teams snafus strike again.
Lock hits Jerry Jeudy on first down to pick up 18 yards.
Melvin Gordon gets three yards on 1st-&-10.
On 2nd-&-7, Lock hits KJ Hamler on the slant for a 14-yard gain, moving the chains and pushing to the Falcons' 42-yard line.
End of Quarter
Falcons 10, Broncos 0
Broncos get 1st-&-10 from the Atlanta 42-yard line.
Broncos stall after Lock misses Tim Patrick in corner of the end zone on third down. McManus pounds through the 43-yard field goal to get Denver on the board.
Falcons 10, Broncos 3
On 3rd-&-3, Ryan hits Zaccheaus for an easy first down. Bassey is pressing.
Ryan scrambles right, has all day long, hits Zaccheaus for a big 42-yard gain. Harris burned in coverage. Again.
Ryan hits Brandon Powell for the 9-yard touchdown. Broncos can't get any pressure on Ryan. Justin Simmons burned in coverage. Extra point is good.
Falcons 17, Broncos 3
Cleveland returns the kickoff 27 yards.
Lock sacked on 1st-&-10 for 11-yard loss. On first down.
Broncos go three-and-out. Punt.
Falcons driving. Broncos' cornerbacks are reeling right now.
Ojemudia flagged for pass interference on second down. Under two minutes, booth reviews and overturns after video evidence of Dre'Mont Jones tipping the ball.
On 3rd-&-7 from the Broncos' 10-yard line, Jones sacks Ryan. Koo connects on the chip-shot field goal. Falcons extend lead.
Falcons 20, Broncos 3
Hamler returns the kickoff 32 yards.
Lock throws it away on 3rd-&-9. Martin punts.
End of quarter
Falcons 20, Broncos 3
Broncos open the second half with Lock connecting with Jeudy for a 12-yard gain on first down. Fumbled out of bounds.
Lock goes deep for Jeudy on 2nd-&-7, incomplete. Atlanta flagged for pass interference.
On 3rd-&-4, Lock hits Patrick for a 9-yard gain, moving the chains.
Three plays later, Lock is pressured, throws incomplete.
McManus connects from 41 yards out.
Falcons 20, Broncos 6
On first down, Ryan goes deep for Zaccheaus but is picked off by Simmons.
On 1st-&-10, Lock throws incomplete but the whistle isn't blown. Falcons recover a fumble. Play is under review.
Call is overturned.
On 2nd-&-10, Lock hits Jeudy for a 3-yard gain.
On 3rd-&-7, Lock scrambles and tries to pick up the first down with his legs. Tackled three yards shy of the sticks. Punt.
On 2nd-&-10, Ryan hits Gurley on the screen pass picking up nine yards. But Bradley Chubb is flagged for roughing the passer, giving the Falcons 15 yards and a new set of downs.
Two plays later, Kareem Jackson is flagged for unnecessary roughness, leading with the helmet to hit Hurst.
Jeremiah Attaochu gets a full shot from the behind at Ryan but whiffs and the slow QB picks up 12 yards with his legs. Wow. That was as ugly as it gets.
On the ensuing play, Ryan hits a wide-open Jones for yet another Falcons' touchdown. Ojemudia got his ankles busted by the perennial Pro Bowl wideout. Extra point is good.
Falcons 27, Broncos 6
Cleveland gets another good return on the ensuing kick-off but Austin Calitro flagged for holding.
On 3rd-&-4, Lock connects with Albert Okwuegbunam, moving the chains. The rookie tight end is shaken up on the play, holding his knee.
Lock gets flagged for intentional grounding on 1st-&-10.
On 2nd-&-21, the delay goes to Goron, who picks up nine yards.
On 3rd-&-12, the Falcons go prevent, Lock checks it down to Fant who is promptly tackled for a 2-yard gain. Punt.
On 3rd-&-4, Lock hits Jeudy who dives forward to move the chains.
Lock scrambles right, hits Jeudy for a 24-yard gain.
On 1st-&-10, Gordon runs for a 1-yard gain.
End of quarter
Falcons 27, Broncos 6
Broncos will open the final frame with a 2nd-&-9 on the Falcons' 34-yard line.
On 3rd-&-4, Lock hits Jeudy four yards shy of the pylon, but he makes a nice move and scores a touchdown. Extra point is good.
Falcons 27, Broncos 13
Ryan hits Hurst for a 24-yard gain on 2nd-&-8.
DeMarcus Walker sacks Ryan on first down.
Two plays later on 3rd-&-15, Fangio sends the blitz and Ryan fires incomplete. Punt.
Hamler fair-catches the punt on Denver's 15-yard line.
Lock is pressured and hit, throws the obligatory interception. On first down.
Falcons about to ice this one.
Two plays later, Gurley punches it in for six. Extra point is good.
Falcons 34, Broncos 13
On the ensuing possession, Broncos threaten with a couple of nice plays from Hamler. But on 4th-&-6 from the Falcons' 36-yard line, Lock throws it up. Incomplete.
Broncos are still yet to convert on fourth down once this season. Turnover on downs.
Lock slaps together a seven-play, 69-yard scoring drive in garbage time, culminates with a touchdown pass to Patrick. Extra point is good.
Falcons 34, Broncos 20
McManus attempts the on-sides kick. Recovered by Atlanta.