The Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles kickoff the NFL season with a major Thursday night matchup. According to OddsShark, the Eagles are favored by 1.5 points, and the over-under is set at 44.5. The public seems to be leaning on the Falcons with 52 percent of the money riding on Atlanta.
It is re-match of last season’s NFC Divisional Round matchup as the Eagles topped the Falcons 15-10 in a low-scoring affair. The Eagles will be a little shorthanded in the matchup with a number of players missing in action, including Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffrey. On defense, Philadelphia beefed up an already solid defensive line by adding Michael Bennett this offseason.
“Obviously a very good front, front four,” Ryan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The defensive line rotation, their stout inside they’ve got good edge rushers. They have Michael Bennett, who we’ve seen a lot in Seattle, I know he’s a talented player. It’ll be a good test for us up front, for sure and they do a good job with their scheme of utilizing all those guys and creating matchups that they find favorable. It’ll be a good challenge, a good task for us on Thursday night.”
Falcons vs. Eagles Prediction
The OddsShark computer likes the Eagles to win big. The computer projects a 29.9 to 13.9 Eagles victory. The computer is taking the Eagles to cover the spread, and the under on the point total.
If the Eagles were at full strength, I would go with the defending champs, but a short-handed Eagles offense is likely going to struggle against the Falcons defense. Vic Beasley is back to coming off the edge rather than playing a traditional linebacker role, and should be a disruptive force in this matchup.
The Falcons offense also received a nice boost with the addition of Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has looked great in the pre-season. Ridley gives the Falcons a legit WR2, something they have been missing since Roddy White. Look for Atlanta to utilize Tevin Coleman, a running back who has a strong track record against the Eagles. The Falcons website detailed Coleman’s history against Philadelphia.
In his previous two matchups against the Eagles, Coleman has totaled 30 rushes for 159 yards, including eight first downs, and one catch for 14 yards. The former Hoosier’s 5.3 yards per carry is the highest average in Falcons history against the Eagles with a minimum of 25 carries. In the divisional-round matchup back in January, Coleman recorded 10 rushes for 79 yards and will be looking to top that and help the Falcons seal the win this time around.
I like the Falcons to take advantage of a short-handed Eagles offense, and get a little revenge as Atlanta pulls off the opening victory. Like their playoff matchup, expect another low-scoring game, making the under a nice play this evening.
Heavy’s Pick: Falcons 20 Eagles 17. Falcons Cover +1.5 Spread. Under on the Point Total.