There were supposed to be a pair of locks on Sunday: The Falcons over the Dolphins and the Broncos over the woeful Giants. Vegas had both teams set at -12, according to our SportsLine, and looked ready to roll over two struggling teams. However, chaos reared its ugly head, as the Dolphins stormed back from a 17-point deficit and the . Both teams lost.
Unfortunately for the favorites, they were both shown why games aren't played on paper. The Broncos in particular looked like they matched up to the Giants extremely well. With one of the best run defenses in the league going up against the non-existent Giants running game, they should have forced the Giants to pass early and often. Instead, Eli Manning dropped back only 19 times, and the Giants defense took care of the rest.
The Giants defense finally showed how good it can be. Trevor Siemian threw the ball a whopping 50 times for the game, completing a respectable 29 of those passes for 376 yards. However, a lot of that yardage came from playing catch-up, and Siemian had the Broncos' lone passing touchdown in garbage time. Jamaal Charles was the Broncos' leading rusher at 19 yards, and the one-dimensional Broncos offense was completely ineffective.
For the Falcons, meanwhile, an utter inability to close games manifested itself again. After taking a 17-0 lead into the half, Jay Cutler and the Dolphins orchestrated a comeback in the second. The Dolphins scored two touchdowns and kicked two field goals, and the Falcons never scored again in the second half. The game ended fittingly -- with a Matt Ryan interception on a last-ditch drive. It's the second time this year that the Falcons have failed on a fourth quarter drive -- they also couldn't convert a fourth-and-1 against the Bills with the game on the line.
The good news for both the Broncos and Falcons is that their divisions had bad weeks. Only the Chargers and Saints won in their respective divisions, so they didn't lose any ground on the division-leading Chiefs and Panthers. However, these games highlighted much bigger problems for both teams. The offensive ineptitude of both squads was apparent, as Siemian continues to try to come into his own and Ryan is still looking to find his footing. Even more disconcertingly, both teams were coming off of a bye week as well.
With the Saints and Raiders looking to right their seasons, the Falcons and Broncos need to step up in a big way. Whether it's the vaunted offense of the Falcons or the fearsome defense of the Broncos, each of these teams has one unit that should be dominant. The NFC got blown wide open again with the , and the Chiefs were the . Both of these teams -- on paper -- are better than 3-2 with ugly losses. If they're going to figure anything out, they'd better do it quickly, because both the AFC and NFC may be deeper than they appeared in the first few weeks of the season.