Atlanta Falcons (2-0) vs. New England Patriots (1-1), Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Sunday, Sept. 27th, 1 PM Eastern, Fox
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Falcons +4/Patriots -4
The suddenly suspect New England Patriots, with two shaky outings under their belts to start this season, will try to avoid falling under .500 when they host the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons in an intriguing interconference match-up this Sunday afternoon.
Most sportsbooks offered an opening line on this game with the Patriots favored by 4.5 points, with a total of 45. But by Monday afternoon most books had moved the line down to four, and the over/under to 44.5.
Atlanta opened this season with a 197 win over the Miami Dolphins last week, then beat division rival Carolina Sunday 28-20. And they’re 2-0 vs. the pointspreads this year, covering as four- and six-point home favorites. The Falcons got outrushed by Miami 96-68, but forced four Dolphins turnovers, while committing none themselves.
Sunday Atlanta found its ground game, and outrushed Carolina 151-144.
Falcons second-year QB Matt Ryan continues to impress. So far this season the former BC Eagle has hit on 43 of 63 pass attempts for 449 yards and five TDs, with just one INT.
Atlanta’s win over Miami easily stayed under its total of 44. And Sunday’s victory over the Panthers didn’t go over its total of 44 until Carolina scored a touchdown with six minutes to go.
New England, meanwhile, needed a last minute comeback, aided by a fumble on a kick-off return, to beat Buffalo in its season opener 25-24. The Patriots then got held to 299 yards of offense, 66 below their 2008 average of 365 YPG, and TD-less in a 16-9 loss to the Jets in Jersey Sunday.
The Pats came nowhere close to covering the spread as 13-point chalk vs. the Bills, and couldn’t win outright Sunday as 3.5-point road faves.
Also, New England’s opener only went over its total of 47 thanks to three TDs in the last five minutes. And Sunday’s loss to New York never approached its total of 45.
New England outgained Buffalo 451-276, and held a 37/23 time-of-possession advantage, but got outrushed 90-73 and gave up a touchdown on an interception return. Sunday, the Pats got outrushed by the Jets 117-83. And after throwing 47 passes vs. New York, for only 216 yards (4.6 YPA), New England QB Tom Brady has already thrown the ball 100 times this season. And just two have gone for scores.
The Falcons ranked 24th in total defense last year at 348 YPG, and have given up an average of 350 YPG in their two games this year.
These two teams last met four years ago, when New England outlasted the Matt Schaub-quarterbacked Falcons 31-28 in Atlanta.
The Falcons went 9-6-1 against the pointspreads last year, 4-4 ATS on the road and 5-4 vs. the numbers as an underdog.
The Pats went 9-7 vs. the spreads last year, but only 3-5 ATS at home. They also went 7-6 against the pointspreads when favored, and 7-2 ATS when giving less than a touchdown.
New England opened the season listed as favorites of right around 5/2 to win the AFC championship this year, and as the top choice on every Super Bowl 44 betting board at around 4/1. As of Monday afternoon, most sportsbooks are offering the Patriots at about 7/2 to win the conference crown and 7/1 to win the Super Bowl.
Atlanta opened this year listed at right around +1,000 to win the NFC championship, and +3,000 to win the Super Bowl. As of Monday afternoon the Falcons were being offered at closer to 8/1 to win the conference and 20/1 to win the Big One.