The 2018 NFL season gets started with a hyped matchup between two NFC powerhouses: the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Both squads have Super Bowl aspirations and will face off in Philadelphia on Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC).
Philadelphia won the Super Bowl last season, defeating Atlanta in the divisional round on its way. Both teams are young and have extremely bright futures.
Let’s delve into some key questions surrounding the NFL’s Week 1 opener. Then, we’ll discuss where you can get the best bang for your betting buck on this game with our Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles predictions for this preview.
Are the Preseason Struggles of Either Team Worrisome?
To be clear, the preseason has never been a great indicator of regular season or playoff success. Most teams don’t spend a big chunk of the games with their best players on the field, and they usually hold off on using some key plays and schemes.
However, the Falcons and Eagles both looked pretty bad in the preseason. Atlanta lost all four of its games, scoring just a combined 27 points in the games.
The Falcons have a tradition of playing poorly in the preseason and staying cautious with their top players to prevent injury. By doing so, will it cause the team’s stars to be rusty against the Eagles? Does the fact that the Falcons were so thoroughly dominated in the preseason mean that their depth is a concern?
The Eagles went 1-3 and also struggled offensively with only 44 points. Unlike the Falcons, the Eagles’ first-team offense (but with backup quarterback Nick Foles) did get some time together, but struggled immensely. The starting defense was very strong, though.
Will Atlanta’s Grittiness on the Road Shine Through Again?
The Falcons are not an ordinary road team. In the past two regular seasons, they have gone an impressive 11-5 on the road with a plus-4.3 point differential. It’s not a coincidence that they’ve had quarterback Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan leading them. The veteran QB is calm under difficult circumstances. Atlanta should also be eager to avenge a 15-10 road playoff loss to the Eagles from January.
On the other hand, the Eagles won’t make things easier for the Falcons. The Philly faithful has guided its team to 11 straight home wins, including regular season and playoffs and not including a meaningless regular season finale in 2017. The Eagles have outscored opponents by a combined 173 points in those games, good for a plus-15.7 point differential.
A key factor in this game will be whether the Falcons’ hunger for vengeance is able to match the Eagles’ desire to prove their worth as the defending Super Bowl champions.
Will the Eagles’ Depth Step Up to Replace the Injured Starters?
The Falcons are going to be pretty healthy in Week 1. The Eagles, however, have key injuries or suspensions to quarterback Carson Wentz, receiver Alshon Jeffery and linebacker Nigel Bradham. Philadelphia would certainly be the favorite with the best American sportsbooks if all three of these players were available. However, there’s some doubt with them out.
Nick Foles is the key player here. He led the team all throughout the playoffs last season when Wentz was injured, but he was bad at the end of last regular season and this preseason. Is he an unreliable quarterback or just a quarterback who saves his best football for meaningful games?
Philly is a deep team, but its depth at linebacker and wide receiver isn’t great. Will the injuries be a deal-breaker for Philly?
Our Preview’s Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
There are some signs that Philadelphia might not be ready to play at an elite level at the beginning of this season. However, in the first game, at home, against a Falcons team that didn’t play much together during the preseason, I think the Eagles can claw out a close win. Remember, they were pretty banged up in last season’s playoffs, but it didn’t matter.
Philadelphia will turn to a physical running game against a fast, but small Atlanta defense. The Eagles are a stronger team in the trenches than Atlanta is and that will ultimately help them overcome their injuries and get the win in front of an excited home crowd.
- The spread for this game opened with the Eagles as a 5.5-point favorite, but the injury reports have swung the line much closer to even. Right now, 5Dimes has a very favorable line of Eagles -1 @ -125. Most of the other outlets have the Eagles as 2.5- or 3-point favorites, so this is one line you will want to jump on.
- Oddsmakers have placed the total points for this game at a very moderate 45 or 45.5, depending on which sportsbook you check. The Eagles should have enough of a running attack to keep the clock moving, but both teams’ defenses seem ahead of their offenses right now. Definitely take the under on MyBookie’s total of 45.5pts @ -110.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.