Atlanta Falcons (0-0) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Lincoln Financial Field, 7:20 PM ET
NFL Week 1: Thursday, September 6, 2018
The Atlanta Falcons take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the opening game of the 2018 NFL season. This is a battle of two teams that made it to the playoffs last season, and they would meet in the divisional round, a contest that Philadelphia won 15-10 on their way to their first Super Bowl championship. Both of these teams have playoff aspirations once again, and so this contest should be a litmus test as to whether either is a true contender.
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A Winless Preseason No Concern for Falcons
It was not a pretty preseason for the Atlanta Falcons, as they lost all four contests and were outscored by 69 points. That included being shut out by the New York Jets, 17-0, to begin the preseason and getting crushed by the Miami Dolphins in the last contest, 34-7.
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Atlanta is coming off a 10-6 where they earned the second wild-card spot. The Falcons upset the Rams in the first weekend of the playoffs, 26-13, before heading to Philadelphia where they were defeated by five. The Falcons posted a 5-3 record on the road last season and were 9-3 in the NFC. They finished by winning three of their last five contests of the regular season.
The Atlanta offense is led by quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw for 4095 yards but had a disappointing 20 touchdowns a season after being named the NFL MVP the previous season. Running back Devonta Freeman also had a disappointing season, rushing for 865 yards after gaining better than a thousand yards in each of the previous two seasons. He also saw his touchdown total go from 11 in 2016 to just seven in 2017.
Atlanta finished 15th in scoring last season (22.1 points per game) while finishing eighth in defense (19.7). The defense was solid overall, finishing ninth in total yards allowed per game (318.4), and ninth in rushing yards allowed per game (104.1).
Philadelphia Looks to Repeat as Super Bowl Champions
After two failed attempts at winning a Super Bowl title, the Philadelphia Eagles became champions, defeating the New England Patriots. The Eagles finished tied for the top record in the NFL at 13-3, narrowly defeating the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 in their first playoff contest, then crushing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 in the NFC Championship game. They won an explosive game over New England, 41-33, to be crowned Super Bowl champs.
Philadelphia finished 1-3 in the preseason, but that was of little concern to the team. The major concern is centered around quarterback Carson Wentz, who missed the last couple of games of the regular-season and all of the postseasons with an injury and is returning looking to reclaim his starting job. Wentz threw for 3296 yards and 33 touchdowns and looked to be on his way to an MVP before getting injured. Nick Foles took over and was extremely impressive in leading the team to a championship. This is a team that will be a little bit of a flux offensively, as they lose running back LeGarrette Blount who signed with the Detroit Lions.
Philadelphia was third in scoring last season, averaging 28.6 points per contest while they were fourth in scoring defense at 18.4. Their defense was first in rushing yards allowed (79.2 yards per game) and fourth in total defense (306.5).
- 7-1 ATS in last eight games on Thursday.
- 4-1 ATS in their last five September games.
- 2-6 in their last eight games ATS on the road.
- 7-2 ATS in last nine home games.
- 12-4 ATS in last 16 games overall.
- 12-4 ATS in last 16 games against NFC teams.
The Winner Prediction
Both of these offenses have something to prove, but the difference maker in this contest is going to be the defense. Atlanta looked solid last season, but Philadelphia has an elite squad. As it was in their playoff game, Philadelphia will win a low-scoring affair.
The Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (-3) (-110)
The total is set at 45.5 but expect this contest to be much more like the contest we saw in the playoffs.
The Pick: Under 45.5 (-110)