Atlanta (0-0) at Philadelphia (0-0)
When: Thursday, September 6th 2018
Where: Lincoln Financial Field,
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Philadelphia -5.5/46.5
Two teams that had forgettable preseasons will get a fresh start this Thursday as the Atlanta Falcons open the 2018 NFL season against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. It wasn’t that long ago that Atlanta was just a few yards away from advancing to the NFC Championship Game when they came up short in Philadelphia. Down 15-10 with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter, Atlanta had first-and-goal at the Eagles’ 9-yard line, but Matt Ryan’s pass to superstar wide receiver Julio Jones on 4th and 2 was a bit high and the Eagles escaped. Philadelphia would go on to rout the Minnesota Vikings the following week for the NFC title and then upset the New England Patriots for the first Super Bowl win in franchise history. No team has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back-to-back since the Patriots in 2003-04, and the Eagles are +900 to repeat, while the Falcons are pegged as +1600 on the futures board. Atlanta had a dreadful preseason, losing all four games by double-digits, while the Eagles scored just 10 points over the final two weeks to go 1-3. Nick Foles, who has been named the starter for Thursday’s contest, relieved the injured Carson Wentz (knee) late in the season and guided Philadelphia to a 41-33 win over New England in Super Bowl 52, while earning Super Bowl MVP honors in the process. The Eagles, who scored a league third-best 28.6 points per game in 2017, are hurting at wide receiver and may need to lean on Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and a ground game that ranked third with an average of 132.2 yards per outing. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan followed his 2016 NFL MVP season by eclipsing 4,000 yards for his franchise-record seventh consecutive season before signing a huge five-year contract in May. Jones led the NFC with 1,444 receiving yards in 2017 and has four straight 100-plus receiving yard outings versus the Eagles, who had the NFL’s best pass defense in 2017. The Eagles have won six of their last seven season openers while the Falcons have taken three of their last four.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman helped take some pressure off Ryan by forming one of the best running back duos in the league, combining for over 2,100 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. They will be tested on Thursday against a Philadelphia defense that ranked third in rush defense last season. Freeman had a touchdown reception against the Eagles in their playoff encounter in January. Atlanta’s defense ranked ninth overall last season – 12th against the pass and ninth against the run. The Falcons, who are two-point underdogs in this one, are on an 8-3 ATS run as a road dog.
Philadelphia became the 11th team in NFL history with three players recording at least eight touchdown receptions last season, with Zach Ertz leading all NFC tight ends with 74 receptions and 824 yards to go along with a career-high eight TDs. Alshon Jeffery, who has been ruled out while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, had nine touchdowns, while fellow wideout Nelson Agholor scored eight times. Defensive end Brandon Graham, who stripped Tom Brady of the ball in the final few minutes of Super Bowl 52, had a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2017 including one against Atlanta. Linebacker Nigel Bradham also recorded a sack in the January meeting with the Falcons after leading the team with 88 tackles in the regular season.
Nicke Foles didn’t look good in the preseason, but he knows its his job for the next few weeks and he is a Super Bowl MVP. The Falcons have a very good team and will compete in the NFC South this season, but they had a hard time against this terrific Eagles defense in the playoffs. I’m not buying into the Super Bowl hangover here, and I’m taking the Eagles.
Pick: Eagles -2
- Falcons are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 Thursday games.
- Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in September.
- Falcons are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- Eagles are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games on grass.
- Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Week 1.
- Eagles are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 home games.
- Eagles are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
- Eagles are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 vs. NFC.
- Eagles are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games in September.
- Under is 7-0 in Falcons last 7 games overall.
- Under is 7-0 in Falcons last 7 vs. NFC.
- Under is 4-0 in Falcons last 4 road games.
- Over is 6-1 in Falcons last 7 games in September.
- Under is 33-16-2 in Falcons last 51 games on grass.
- Under is 4-1 in Eagles last 5 home games.
- Over is 7-2 in Eagles last 9 Thursday games.
- Under is 7-3 in Eagles last 10 games in September.
- Under is 9-4 in Eagles last 13 games in Week 1.
- Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
- Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
- Under is 9-3-1 in the last 13 meetings.
- Under is 5-2-1 in the last 8 meetings in Philadelphia.
- Falcons are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 meetings.
- Falcons are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings in Philadelphia.