NFL Monday Night Football Betting Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Monday, September 14, 2015, 7:10 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Philadelphia -1
Current Line: Philadelphia -3 (-120)
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 55
Opening Money Line: Eagles -130 / Falcons +110
Current Money Line: Eagles -155 / Falcons +135

The Eagles take on the Falcons in the first Monday night game of the season in Atlanta.
The Eagles take on the Falcons in the first Monday night game of the season in Atlanta.

The Philadelphia Eagles barely missed the playoffs last year. Still, Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly made numerous changes to the roster in order to get players more in tune to his system. We will see if the new players accomplish said goal as the Eagles open the season on the road Monday night at the Atlanta Falcons.

Philadelphia leads the series 17-13-1 against Atlanta, but the Falcons have won two straight in the series. Atlanta won the last meeting in 2012 30-17 in Philadelphia. Before the current two game winning streak by the Falcons, the Eagles had won 8 of the previous 9 games in the series dating back to 2000.

Philadelphia went 10-6 last year and finished two games behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The Eagles led the division after a rout over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day. However, a three game losing streak including a loss to the Cowboys allowed Dallas to come back and win the division. Philadelphia went 3-1 in the pre-season this year.

Atlanta fired coach Mike Smith after a 6-10 season. Still, Atlanta entered the final week of the regular season in a winner take all game for the NFC South title at home against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers would win that game 34-3. The Falcons hired defensive coordinator Dan Quinn from the Seattle Seahawks as the new coach. Atlanta went 2-2 in the pre-season.

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Last year, Philadelphia was #5 in total offense at 397 yards per game including 272 passing and 125 rushing yards. The Eagles were in the top 10 in both passing and rushing. Philadelphia was third in scoring at 29.6 points per game.The Eagles were -8 in turnovers though. The Eagles allowed 376 yards per game on defense last year, including 265 passing and 111 rushing yards. The Eagles were #28 in total defense and #31 in pass defense. Philadelphia was #22 in points allowed at 25 points per game.

Kelly decided to shake things up be making numerous trades and signing some big name free agents. He traded quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford, who is coming off torn ACL’s in the last two seasons. Kelly also traded running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso and would sign running back DeMarco Murray from the Cowboys. Murray led the league in rushing last year.

Foles missed the last 8 games of the season with a broken collarbone. He threw for 2,163 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before the injury, and rushed for 68 yards. Mark Sanchez took over as the starter for the second half of the season. He threw for 2,418 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushed for 87 yards with a touchdown. Sanchez returns as the back-up.

Murray had 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with 57 catches for 416 yards last year for the Cowboys. The versatile Darren Sproles is also back for the Eagles. He had 57 carries for 329 yards with 6 touchdowns, and made 40 catches for 387 yards. Philadelphia also signed Ryan Mathews from the San Diego Chargers. He rushed for 330 yards last year with 3 touchdowns last year, despite missing most of the season with a broken foot.

Receiver Jordan Matthews is back after making 67 catches for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns. Philadelphia also drafted receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round out of USC. Riley Cooper had 55 catches for 577 yards with 3 touchdowns. The Eagles also signed free agent Miles Austin from the Cleveland Browns. Austin had 47 catches for 568 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Browns last year. Tight end Zach Ertz had 58 catches for 702 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ertz is battling a groin injury and is questionable. Tight end Brent Celek had 32 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown.

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The Falcons had a top ten offense last year averaging 378 yards per game, including 285 passing and 94 rushing yards. The Falcons were #5 in passing but #24 in rushing. Atlanta averaged 23.8 points per game which was #12 in the league. Atlanta was +5 in turnovers. Atlanta was dead last in defense last year allowing 398 yards per game. The pass defense was also last at 280 yards per game. The rush defense was #21 at 118 yards per game. The Falcons were #27 in points allowed at 26.1 points per game.

Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 4,694 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and rushed for 145 yards on 29 carries. His reputation as an elite quarterback has taken a hit as his interception total has risen in the last two years. However, he has been sacked 75 times in the last two seasons. T.J. Yates returns as the back-up to Ryan.

Running back Steven Jackson was released after last season, and has yet to be picked up by another team. He had 190 carries for 707 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 148 yards. The Falcons drafted Tevin Coleman in the third round out of Indiana. He is expected to be the starter. Coleman rushed for over 2,000 yards with 15 touchdowns at Indiana last year. Devonta Freeman is back after rushing for 248 yards on 65 carries with a touchdown, along with 30 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers is now with the Chicago Bears. He rushed for 217 yards with a touchdown, and had 29 catches for 173 yards with a touchdown. Antone Smith had 23 carries for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fullback Patrick DiMarco didn’t get any carries but did have 9 catches and a touchdown last year.

Receiver Julio Jones had 104 catches for 1,593 yards with 6 touchdowns last year. Roddy White had 80 catches for 921 yards and 7 touchdowns. White had minor elbow surgery during training camp but is probable.  Harry Douglas is now with the Tennessee Titans after making 51 catches for 556 yards and 2 touchdowns. Devin Hester had 38 catches for 504 yards with 2 touchdowns, and also added a rushing touchdown. He is out with a toe injury. Tight end Levine Toilolo had 31 catches for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Falcons signed free agent tight end Jacob Tamme from the Denver Broncos. Tamme had 14 catches for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. He is probable with a back injury. The Falcons drafted receiver Justin Hardy in the fourth round out of East Carolina. They also signed free agent Leonard Hankerson from the Redskins. Hankerson missed almost all of last year with an injury.

The Eagles are 10-4 ATS in Monday games, 5-2 in week one, and 3-10-1 in September. Philadelphia is 9-4-1 ATS against Atlanta recently.

The Falcons are 5-2 ATS against NFC teams, and 2-7 on fieldturf. Five of the last six games in Atlanta in the series have gone under the total.

Quinn will certainly make a difference and he will rebuild the defense for the Falcons. However, it will take time. Time they don’t have because Philadelphia scored at least 36 points in their first three pre-season games this year. I think this will be a high scoring game and I like the Eagles to win on the road. Three points seems like a bargain, as I think the eagles win by at least a touchdown.

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