Atlanta Falcons (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3 SU, 1-4-1 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, October 28th, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 706
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Atl +2.5/Phi -2.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The last undefeated team in the National Football League will put it’s perfect record on the line in the hostile territory of Lincoln Financial Field where they boo Santa, when the Atlanta Falcons take on the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday afternoon on Fox.
After winning their last game on a 55-yard field goal as time expired, then taking the bye week off to rest and reflect on a perfect start, now quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons are poised and ready for the final two-thirds of their schedule starting with the Eagles on Sunday.
But the Eagles will also be ready, since they also spent last week off with a bye. However, the Eagles will likely have an axe to grind since the last time they played it ended in a disheartening overtime loss at home to the Detroit Lions, 26-23. Philly let a 10-point lead slip away in the final five minutes of the game against the Lions, and with a week to stew about it, now Michael Vick and the Eagles defense are itching to get back on the field and try to make their own run down the home stretch of the regular season.
With the league’s last unbeaten coming to “The Linc” the football oddsmakers strategically opened the game with Philadelphia as slim 1-point favorites at home. That started an instant flood of sharp money coming in on the Eagles with the small number, causing sportsbooks to quickly move the line all the way up to minus -2.5 before the money-run stopped. There are still a few sportsbooks out there at minus-1 or -1.5, but you’re going to pay juice up to -125 or -130 to get the number back down that low again.
The over/under total opened at 46 and hasn’t really seen much line movement at all, although a few online sportsbooks and a few properties in Las Vegas have raised it the hook to 46.5 to take the push out of play.
Offensively there’s a lot to like in this game two exceptional QBs in Ryan and Vick, a bruising back in Michael Turner and perhaps the best all-purpose back LeSean McCoy, two of the best deep threats in the game in Julio Jones and DeSean Jackson, a great possession option Roddy White, a legendary pass-catching TE in Tony Gonzales and one of his top understudies Brent Celek.
Both teams have had two weeks to scheme and script an attack, and for the first time all season the Eagles just might have a fully staffed offensive line in front of Vick. Oh, and there’s also the fact that Andy Reid has never lost a game following his bye week in his 13 seasons as the head coach.
So this game will turn on which defense plays a tighter game. Atlanta has been steady on defense, but their one glaring weakness is run defense (allowing 144 ypg – 28th in NFL) so expect a heavy dose of McCoy in this game, if coach Reid will give him the ball. Philly has been good but just not great on defense all season, but with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie capable of matching Jones and White on the perimeter you have to give the Eagles an edge on Sunday.
Atlanta snapped a four-game win streak by the Eagles in their head-to-head meeting last season, 35-31, in the Georgia Dome in early September. Atlanta’s only 2-8 SU against the Eagles since 2000, and they haven’t won in Philly since 1988.
Philly has owned the series at the sportsbook too, cashing at a 7-3 ATS clip over the years including a 5-1 ATS mark in the Falcons last six trip to the City of Brotherly Love.
The under looks like the strongest betting trend play, with it going 6-2-1 in the last nine head-to-head meetings and 3-1-1 in the last five played in Philly. The under is also 13-3 following Philly’s bye week, and 11-4-1 following the Falcons bye week.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Eagles following their bye week is one of those bets you can book every year, which is why when the line came out at one-point the sharp money jumped all over it. The “public” is in love with Atlanta, but the number is going up for a reason. Philly is the pick here, knocking the Falcons from the undefeated this Sunday. I’m taking Philadelphia minus the -2.5 points.
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