The Atlanta Falcons were pegged by some–not yours truly but some–as a team poised for a bounceback season. I wasn’t buying then and I’m not buying now. Sunday Night Football heads to the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta as the Falcons host the Philadelphia Eagles. Hopefully, this game will be more compelling than last Sunday’s game which offered nothing other than New England in a glorified scrimmage as they throttled the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-3.
The Falcons performed only marginally better than the Steelers. They traveled to Minnesota and were butchered by the Vikings losing 28-12. The biggest issue last week was turnovers and sloppy play. Matt Ryan was intercepted twice and the Vikings recovered a fumble for the third turnover. Atlanta did nothing until ‘garbage time’. The Vikings led 21-0 at halftime and 28-0 at the end of the third quarter. Atlanta spent much of the offseason trying to improve Ryan’s pass protection but it’s not apparent how much of an upgrade took place.
Dan Quinn is now calling the defensive plays and Dirk Koetter is the new offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Koetter is the former head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs and he’s no doubt relieved to be dealing with an actual professional at quarterback. Hard to think of a bigger upgrade than Jameis Winston to Matt Ryan. Quinn’s defense didn’t do a bad job in Minnesota in terms of yards allowed but the problem was once again turnovers–the Vikings enjoyed such good field position that they didn’t need to rack up huge yardage numbers.
Philadelphia got their season off to a winning start though it sure didn’t look good in the first half. Washington scored the first 17 points of the game and took a 20-7 lead into halftime before the Eagles outscored them 24-7 the rest of the way. Philadelphia failed to cover as a -10 point home favorite. The defense could be an issue with the Eagles although it could just be a case of starting slow in the first game of the season.
The Falcons have become one of the biggest financial sinkholes in the NFL for bettors over the past few seasons. Atlanta is on a 13-22 ATS run overall including a 3-7 ATS run as an underdog. Eagles have been very good in close games–in games with a line of +3 to -3 Philadelphia is 10-3 SU/9-3-1 ATS during the last three seasons. They’re also 10-7 ATS on the raod and have won and covered the last two against the Falcons. They should get the win and bring home the bacon here.