Philadelphia Eagles (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Monday, September 14, 2015, 7:10 pm EST
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PHI. -3/ATL. +3
Over/Under Total: 55.5
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The National Football League and ESPN will once again showcase the opening of the regular season with two games on Monday Night Football. The early game features two NFC teams that made a bunch of changes and are excited for the upcoming 2015 season when Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to play the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
Kelly and the Eagles caused a few quarrels in the offseason in Philly, totally reorganizing their starting offensive backfield by jettisoning longtime RB and fan favorite Leshon McCoy in a trade to Buffalo and swapping QB Nick Foles for often-injured Sam Bradford in a trade with St. Louis. They saved faced in the McCoy trade by snagging RB DeMarco Murray from the rival Cowboys when Dallas let Murray walk. The jury is still out in Philly if the moves will pan out in 2015, but fans sure are excited to see what Kellys remade offense can do in the tight NFC East race.
The changes in Atlanta were in the leadership positions, with Mike Smith sent packing and the Falcons grabbing the hottest defensive coordinator in the NFL by signing Seattles Dan Quinn to take the helm. The Falcons didnt do much with their roster, but with Quinn and staff on site the anticipation that the Falcons defense might finally start pulling its own weight and help Matt Ryan and the offense in 2015.
When the oddsmakers first listed a point spread for this game it originally opened with Philadelphia as a slim 1-point favorite on the road. But then the Eagles rolled up a 38 points a game in the preseason, prompting everyone to like the Eagles so the number shot up to where it is sitting now at Philadelphia minus -3. The over/under total has also had its fair share of line movement, opening at 53 and climbing to 55 or 56 at most sportsbooks.
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Neither Bradford or Murray logged too much time on the field in the preseason (Bradford 15 throws, Murray 13 carries), so once they go live on Monday Night Football it will give everyone a complete look at the new Eagles offense. How the Falcons and Quinn will choose to try and limit the Eagles hurry-up scheme will be interesting because the Atlanta doesnt really have too many difference makers on defense.
Atlanta went out on Friday and traded for guard Andy Levitre from Tennessee to try and fix the offensive line woes in front of Ryan, so the Falcon offense should be better than theyve shown thus far. The Falcons will need the young running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to step up and make defenses respect the running game, otherwise Ryan will have a hard time finding WR Julio Jones in play-action against the Eagles secondary.
Historically these two havent met since 2012, a 30-17 Atlanta win on the road in Philly when Michael Vick was the QB. Atlanta also won the last time the met in the Georgia Dome in 2011, 35-31, and Matt Ryan has thrown three touchdowns in both of the games so the Falcons seem to have the momentum in the matchup.
If you can get past the fact that almost 70 percent of the money so far wagered on the game is on the Eagles, then the fact that Philadelphia is 10-4 ATS in their last 14 Monday Night Football games should be the clincher. Philly also owns a 9-4-1 ATS record against the Falcons all told. The over also has some good betting trend numbers behind a wager, since the over is 4-0 in Phillys last four games on MNF and its 4-1 in Atlantas last five games on MNF.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Atlanta is a tough team to play at home in the Georgia Dome, and Im not so sure Ive seen enough of Bradford running the Eagles offense thus far to know if his limited mobility and bad knees are going to be a good fit in Kellys hurry-up scheme. Ill take the home underdog Falcons and the +3-points.