Philadelphia Eagles (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS), 8:20 p.m. EST, NFL Week 2, Sunday, September 18, 2011, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia, TV: NBC
by Scotty L, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Phil -1.5/ATL +1.5
Over/Under Total: 49.5
On Sunday evening, the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons. A lot was expected of both teams this season. The Eagles are being ballyhooed as a potential Super Bowl contender, while the Falcons are looking to improve on a 13-3 record that saw them eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by eventual Super Bowl Championsthe Green Bay Packers.
Week one was only kind to one team, as the Eagles romped in a road win over a supposedly-resurgent St. Louis Rams team. The Falcons, however, struggled mightily en route to a 30-12 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears. The Falcons looked to be a far cry from their form of last season. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 319 yards. RB Michael Turner rushed for 100 yards and 6 ball catchers pulled in at least 3 receptions. Despite those glistening state, the Falcons managed no offensive touchdowns!
The Atlanta offense was at times manhandled by the very physical Bears D. The Falcons obviously moved the ball some, but when it counted most, the Bears were able to keep them in check. How will that translate against the defense of the Eagles? While different than the Bears defense, the Philadelphia defense is a hard-hitting group.
At the same time, the Eagles D has a tendency to be porous. Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson were able to find gigantic holes in the middle and exploit them to good affect. Both were eventually forced to leave the game with injuries. But if the Rams were able to establish more continuity, they could have done some serious damage. The Atlanta offense can be highly technical. While they might struggle against the more dominating defenses this year, there will also be moments where they pick apart opportunistic defenses, especially at home.
In order to accomplish this feat, they will have to upend a Philly squad that looked awfully sharp in week one. The Rams took a 7-0 lead, before being outscored 31-6 for the rest of the game. It was an impressive road win that showed newly-signed QB Michael Vick utterly comfortable as the undisputed Eagles field general. Thinking back to Vicks issues of a few years ago, many people figured he would be able to come back to the NFL and perhaps even have some good football left in him. What not many expected is that he would be better than ever. He is a perfect fit with this team and is so at ease on the field that it seems like he has been there for a decade.
Game one saw Eagles RB LeSean McCoy running the ball well, with 122 yards on only 15 carries. Vick connected nicely with WR DeSean Jackson (6-102-1) and even though he was merely 14-32 for 187 yards, it showed how unimportant stats can beespecially when looking at Matt Ryan last week, who managed 6 points on 300 yards passing. The Rams, however, unraveled in light of the Eagles spurt and key injuries on offense, allowing the Eagles to cruise to an easy cover. Expect stiffer resistance this week.
In week one, the Eagles caught a decent point spread and the cover was hardly in doubt by the second half. There is only a 2-point swing from that game, as Philly goes from a 3.5-point favorite to a 1.5-point favorite. Atlanta was a 13-3 team last season and must be chomping at the bit to avoid going 0-2. So, perhaps the Eagles hype machine is already starting to warm up in the early-season.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Atlanta is a bounce-back kind of team. They are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game. They are also 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games following either a SU or STS loss. The Eagles, conversely, are 7-3 in their last 10 as a road favorite. Look for the Falcons to break out in their home opener. They’re not as bad of a team as they looked last weekend at Chicago. Take the Falcons at +1.5.
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