Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Odds, Best Bets
The Eagles meet the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday, both under new coaches. Let’s look to the total in Week 1 of NFL season.
The Philadelphia Eagles head south this weekend to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
Both teams welcome in new coaches with offensive backgrounds; both will be looking to buck the narrative that they’re in the midst of a rebuild. Where is the betting value in Week 1?
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The Falcons usher in the Arthur Smith era on Sunday, welcoming the former offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. Smith will look to get another strong season from the Atlanta passing game, which added tight end Kyle Pitts, No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pitts isn’t your typical tight end, but doubles as an elite pass catcher with speed and hands. Smith has had great success with tight ends, utilizing the likes of Jonnu Smith in Tennessee over the last two seasons, and Pitts will be deployed in a myriad of ways.
He’ll join forces with Calvin Ridley, who steps into the role of No. 1 receiver after the club traded Julio Jones in the offseason.
Matt Ryan has always been able to air it out, and while he loses his longtime option, the young Atlanta receivers will do just fine. The offense was 12th in the league last season in explosive plays, and I expect Pitts to make an impact early against an unheralded group of Philly linebackers. (For reference, Smith’s offense in Tennessee was top half of the league in both explosive rush and pass rate.)
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Atlanta is a high volume passing team, and will need it against an Eagles team that’s invested heavily in the defensive line by bringing in the likes of Ryan Kerrigan. That won’t be an issue for Ryan, who led the league in pass attempts in 2020 and has passed for more than 4,000 yards in every year since 2011.
In addition, the Eagles defense struggled defending the pass in 2020. While the team was elite at stopping the run, Philadelphia ranked 24th in passing DVOA and was 20th in explosive pass defense.
On the other side, new head coach Nick Sirianni comes from the Indianapolis Colts, where he spent three seasons as offensive coordinator. Sirianni has a dual-threat weapon in quarterback Jalen Hurts and first round pick DeVonta Smith at his disposal.
He, too, will be looking to make an impact in his first game running the team, and will be able to pick on a similarly weak secondary in Atlanta. The defense was 24th in pass success rate and 30th in explosive pass defense.
Atlanta’s inability to contain the deep ball is going to hurt the team. Hurts made nine completions for over 30 yards in the last five weeks of the season in 2020, tied for the most in the league. Hurts’ ability to extend plays with his legs and keep his eyes down field is going to be massive against the Falcons secondary.
I like the idea of backing both first time head coaches to draw up strong game plans in Week 1 against two defenses that can be attacked in the secondary, bringing me to the over 48.
Hurts will be able to use his legs as a weapon, while the Falcons look to lean on their elite passing game against the strong Philly defensive front.
I see both Smith and Siranni executing their desired game plans, leading to a high-scoring matchup.
You want Philly Philly? You want Jason Kelce in a Mummers’ suit? Watch the Birds party like it’s 2018 in this new season kickoff video.
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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons
When: Sunday, September 12, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Watch: FOX-TV, FOX Sports App, Fubo-TV, NFL Game Pass
Money Line: Falcons -167, Eagles +140
Spread: Falcons -3, O/U 48