Falcons-Eagles Betting Preview & Pick: Is There Any Value Left?
The NFL kicks off its 2018 season with a rematch of a Divisional round matchup from January as the Eagles host the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Philadelphia held on for a 15-10 win against Atlanta in that playoff matchup, with the Eagles thwarting the Falcons on four attempts inside the 10-yard line in the waning minutes of the game. Behind backup quarterback Nick Foles, the Eagles advanced to the NFC Championship Game, throttled the Vikings 38-7, then defeated the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII where Foles was named MVP.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
- Point Spread: Eagles -1
- O/U: 44.5
- Time: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
The defending champs opened as a 4-point favorite when the line was first released for Thursday’s opener. Since then, however, the spread dropped to 2.5, then 2, and is now Eagles -1 as of Thursday morning. The total has also seen significant movement, as oddsmakers have dropped the over/under from 47 down to 44.5 at most Las Vegas and online sportsbooks.
As of Thursday morning, 62% of the betting tickets wagered at online sportsbooks are on the Falcons but the money remains on the Eagles at 52%. Some Vegas sports books, however, have reported taking big wagers on the Falcons. With the spread down to 1, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any buyback from Philadelphia backers with the Eagles currently at a discounted price.
The Falcons enter tonight’s game with no significant injuries. They held Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman out during the preseason to ensure that both stars were healthy for the regular season. Atlanta did rule out guard Ben Garland and cornerbacks Isaiah Oliver and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, but none of those players would have started.
Meanwhile, the Eagles do not have the same injury fortunate heading into their home opener. Quarterback Carson Wentz is not ready to return from knee surgery, so Foles will start again against the Falcons. Receivers Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Mack Hollins (groin) are also out with injuries, which leaves Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor as the team’s starting wideouts. On defense, Timmy Jernigan started the season on the PUP list and linebacker Nigel Bradham is suspended for the one week for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The Falcons failed to cover the spread in four of their last five games against the Eagles in Philadelphia, which includes their playoff loss back in January. The Falcons are also 5-11-1 against the number in their last 17 games versus the Eagles overall, regardless of venue. The home team has covered the spread in four of the last five meetings.
All of the value has been sucked out of the point spread. Had the Falcons stayed at +4, then grabbing them at that number would have been a solid buy for bettors. I also don’t want to fade the defending Super Bowl champs with the public supporting a road dog, so I’m laying off the side tonight.
That said, I do see some value left in the total and I like the under. Atlanta has one of the fastest defenses in the league but opponents like Philadelphia give the Falcons trouble. Thanks to a heavy dose of RPOs (run-pass options), the Eagles use plenty of misdirection to get linebackers and defensive backs out of position.
This is what happened in the playoff matchup last January when Foles was efficient in the second half. He was able to get Atlanta’s linebackers and cornerbacks out of position just enough to pick up first downs, keep the clock moving and not allow Matt Ryan and Co. to see the field. It’s what kept the scoring down, in part.
One other key reason why these two teams combined for just 25 points last season is because the unheralded Eagles cornerbacks man-handled the Falcons receivers. Despite Jones and Mohamad Sanu’s presence, Philly’s defensive backs were physical at the line of scrimmage and disrupted the timing between Ryan and his wideouts. The Falcons nearly won the game on their final offensive drive but had they scored, they still would have only mounted 17 points versus the Eagles, who once again will have a nasty pass-rush this season.
I don’t see either of these offenses having much success tonight. The Eagles are down two receivers and the Falcons are built defensively to prevent big plays. If the Eagles score, they’ll need to do what they did a year ago and have success on long drives. Eventually, Atlanta’s offense will fire on all cylinders, but I don’t expect that to be the case tonight against a ferocious Philly pass-rush.
The under is 9-3-1 in the last 13 meetings between these two teams and 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings in Philadelphia.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.