Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season kicks off with a rematch between two high-profile teams in the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles in primetime. The two teams met last season in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, with the Eagles gutting out a 15-10 victory. As we know, Philly then went on to win the Super Bowl behind backup quarterback Nick Foles.
There are plenty of storylines ahead of the Thursday Night Football matchup, but one thing we know for certain is that Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz will not suit up. In turn, the Falcons will have a chance for some level of redemption by facing the signal caller who ended their season.
Let’s dive into the matchup by checking out the current line on the game, as well as offering up a prediction and pick.
*Note: All lines, odds, and totals are courtesy of Odds Shark.
Current Line & Total
Line: Atlanta Falcons (-1)
The betting line on Thursday night’s game has moved drastically since it first opened. This can almost certainly be attributed to Wentz being ruled out by the Eagles, but it first opened with Philadelphia listed as -5.5 point favorites. The nearly-seven-point swing is eye-opening and shows oddsmakers aren’t putting much stock or belief in Foles.
It’s somewhat surprising to see the Falcons favored on the road, as you can bet Eagles fans will be amped up following the incredible finish to their 2017 season.
Falcons vs. Eagles Week 1 Pick
Now for the fun part, and picking this game is a tall task. On one hand, the revenge factor is tough to ignore for some bettors. But the Eagles boast an impressive defense which is more than capable of shutting down the Falcons offense. Last season, Philadelphia allowed a league-low rushing yards per game at 79.2, along with the fourth-fewest points per game (18.4).
Interestingly, one area where the Eagles didn’t excel was against the pass, as they were No. 17 in the league, allowing 227.3 yards per game through the air. We saw them hold Falcons QB Matt Ryan in check during the playoff game, as he completed 22-of-36 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown.
But one area that’s being overlooked in this matchup is the improved Falcons defense. They allowed 19.7 points per game last season, along with 214.3 yards per game through the air. While the Eagles defense is still better than Atlanta’s in my eyes, I believe the Falcons wide receivers will make the difference.
Last season, Philadelphia allowed 2,485 yards and 14 touchdowns to wideouts, and we saw Julio Jones total 101 yards in the playoff game against them. With the addition of Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu still in town, the Falcons have enough offensive firepower to leave town with a 1-0 record.
Pick: Falcons -1 (Atlanta Falcons 21 Philadelphia Eagles 17)
Falcons cover spread and game goes under projected point total of 45.