Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 1 Odds & Picks

Jay Horne
Date: September 12, 1:00 pm
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
TV: Fox

Betting Odds

Point Spread: PHI +3.5/ATL -3.5
Total: 48

The opening week of the NFL season will have numerous storylines surrounding the multitude of match-ups this Sunday. Among the numerous intriguing match-ups includes an underrated NFC showdown when the Atlanta Falcons host the Philadelphia Eagles inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. While neither the Falcons nor Eagles have extremely high expectations this season, both organizations will be under new head coaching staffs and looking to turn things back in the right direction after capturing just four wins each in 2020. Both teams took offseason gambles by coaches who lacked prior NFL head coaching experience, and it will be very interesting to see if either team has made progress following lackluster campaigns from last season.
From a betting standpoint, I find this opening betting line relatively peculiar. Despite the similar records in 2020, the Falcons appear to be the team aligned for immediate improvement. Atlanta still has veteran QB Matt Ryan, who continues to produce following a 2020 season with a 65% completion percentage that resulted in 4,581 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 picks. The offense did cut ties with star WR Julio Jones, but many expect WR Calvin Ridley to fill the alpha role in the receiving corps. Atlanta also added former Panthers running back Mike Davis to the backfield and used their 1st round pick to draft TE Kyle Pitts, who I believe will be a tremendous NFL talent. By all accounts, the Falcons have every opportunity to strengthen an offense that was solid last year by averaging 25 points per game.
Obviously, Atlanta's struggles in recent years have been largely caused by the defense and their inability to win close games, which has to be attributed to the prior coaching staff. The Falcons were a bottom-five defense in 2020, allowing 400 yards per game on the defensive side of the football. By all accounts, Atlanta's defense did not exactly make many moves over the offseason to improve their expectations this season. While part of the problem was related to salary cap issues, Atlanta still has major concerns on the defensive side of the football, especially as the season progresses and depth becomes a bigger issue. However, the Falcons' Week 1 defensive match-up against Philadelphia's offense is not too daunting and potentially an opportunistic match-up.
<span style="font-size:16px;"><b><span style="color:#008000;">Get more details:</span></b> <a class="advblue" href="">Eagles vs. Falcons 9/12/21 Match-up Stats</a> </span>
Breaking down the 2021 Eagles offense<br />
I mentioned earlier that I was surprised the Eagles were such slight underdogs despite the similar records and perhaps talent on paper. The reason is that I believe the Falcons will be able to move the football right away with veteran signal-caller Matt Ryan. The Eagles, on the other hand, have invested heavily into the potential of QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts made a handful of starts at the end of last season but finished with disappointing results completing just 52 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and four picks. Hurts did provide the dual-threat rushing ability, seemingly desired by all NFL teams in today's environment, to rack up 363 yards with three touchdowns in those contests. Hurts running ability is without question his most dangerous skill set, but that is not necessarily a secret either.
These opening weeks of the season will not be like the end of 2020, where Hurts made a couple of starts against non-playoff teams. Defenses are going to stack the box against a non-efficient Eagles running game and dare Hurts to throw the ball. Even if Hurts has some success, who is going to be the go-to guy on the outside? The Eagles' best talent in the receiving corps lies on the shoulders of rookie WR DeVonta Smith. To better explain my point, this may be the weakest offense in the entire NFC, yet many people are expecting this 2nd-year subpar quarterback to vastly improve this offense? I'm sorry, I just do not see it happening, and I believe that narrative will be abundantly clear against opposing teams that can score, thus putting pressure on the Eagles' offense.
<p><b>More Week 1 Picks: <a href="… vs. Chiefs Point Spread Prediction</a></b></p>

Eagles vs. Falcons Prediction 9/12/21

Obviously, there is no such thing as a sure bet, especially in a Week 1 match-up where expectations are volatile. Not to mention, Atlanta still has undeniable concerns on the defensive side of the football. However, Philadelphia has those same concerns on defense, where they have declined every year since their 2017 Super Bowl run. Purely from a match-up standpoint, the Eagles' biggest weakness is over the middle of the field where the Falcons like to attack. The linebackers are a complete mess, and there is minimal confidence in the secondary. All of these factors lead me to believe the Falcons will move the football and scrap away at conversions to create scoring opportunities. I just don't see Philadelphia replicating that formula on the other side of the football. If Hurts turns the ball over, things could get ugly as well.

Free Pick: Take Atlanta -3.5
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