Check out our top NFL plays in this week’s “Fab Five.”
Man it’s time! You can’t put a price on the chance for me to play for my people and city! It’s bigger than money!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) November 7, 2018
It looked like the Falcons season was all but over after a 1-4 starts, but Atlanta has bounced back to win their last three games to enter the week with a 4-4 overall record. The Falcons have been forced to battle injuries throughout the first half of the regular season, as six starters ended up on injured reserve. However, the organization brought in some reinforcements during the week, signing outside linebacker Bruce Irvin to bolster their pass rush and activating middle linebacker Deion Jones, who returned to practice for the first time since being placed on injured reserve back in September. Irvin, an Atlanta native, apparently had more lucrative offers from the likes of the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but decided to take a pay cut in order to join his hometown Falcons.
Can the Falcons get back to the playoffs after a slow start?
The Falcons are fresh off of winning their third consecutive game last week after taking down the Washington Redskins on the road 36-14. Matt Ryan completed 26 of 38 passes for 350 yards, four touchdowns and one interception on the day, while Julio Jones caught his first touchdown of the season, finishing with seven catches for 121 yards and a score to help propel the Falcons to victory. Calvin Ridley caught his team-leading seventh touchdown pass, while Tevin Coleman added two receiving scores and 156 all-purpose yards to keep Atlanta in the hunt for a playoff spot in the NFC. Atlanta has its work cut out for them if they want to get back into the postseason, as five of their remaining eight games will be played in opposing stadiums.
HIGHLIGHTS: See what Bruce Irvin brings to ATL. 👀 pic.twitter.com/oS1p1V2orF
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 8, 2018
Atlanta comes into the week scoring 28.5 points per game, while averaging 412.3 yards of total offense per contest. After placing running back Devonta Freeman on injured reserve earlier this year, the Falcons have been forced to rely on the passing game to move the football and it has showed — as 78.4 percent of the Falcons offense has come through the air (320.1 yards per game) this season. It doesn’t hurt that Ryan has reverted to the MVP form that he put on display during the Falcons Super Bowl run two seasons ago. He comes in with 2,685 yards passing to go along with 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions through the first half of the year, while also completing a career-best 70.8 percent of his passes. On defense, Atlanta has allowed 28.3 points and 412.8 yards of total offense per game.
Second half all about progress for young Browns
Cleveland fired head coach Hue Jackson and replaced him with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in the interim. Williams is 15 years removed from his last head coaching gig, but could land himself some consideration for an NFL head coaching job with the way he handles the Browns’ second half. The Browns put up a spirited effort against the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs last week, falling at home 37-21. However, Williams was aggressive on both sides of the ball, going for it on fourth down four times and attempting a two-point conversion after every Browns touchdown. The strategy worked in the first half, as Cleveland went into the half down just five points, but they couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs for a full 60 minutes. Baker Mayfield finished the game 29 of 42 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on the day, while fellow rookie Nick Chubb rushed for 85 yards and a score in a losing effort for Cleveland.
Baker Mayfield needs to settle down in spots like this. He avoids the rush and finds the right receiver, but rushes his throwing process. Torso comes all the way through well before the ball does — no good. pic.twitter.com/Zk80KSM8uX
— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) November 8, 2018
The Browns come into the week scoring just 21.1 points per game, while averaging 347.4 yards of total offense per game. With the youth movement officially underway in Cleveland, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Browns struggle down the stretch, but don’t count out Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has played well over the past few weeks, throwing for six touchdowns and only two interceptions over Cleveland’s last three losses. He comes in with 1,768 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. Meanwhile on defense, Cleveland has surrendered an average of 27.4 points and 423.9 yards of total offense per contest.
- 1-7 ATS last 8 in Week 10.
- 7-19 ATS last 26 home games.
- 7-23 ATS last 30 in November.
- Falcons are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in November.
- Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.
- Falcons are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
Updated on Nov 10 at 10:05pm EST
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Falcons have gotten 78% of the bets and they have gone from 3.5 point favorites to 6 point favorites. That is consistent with the number of bets.
Injury / Weather Report
No Weather Issues Expected
Atlanta’s Impact Injury Report:
Kicker Matt Bryant is Out.
Cleveland’s Impact Injury Report:
DB Denzel Ward (40 Tackles, 3 INTs), Center JC Tretter (9 Starts), LB Joe Schobert (49 Tackles, 1 INT, 1.5 Sacks) and TE David Njoku (350 Yards, 2 TDs) are all questionable.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Falcons playoff hopes hinge on beating Cleveland on the road this week and with the spread set fairly low, you have to like your chances with the Falcons in this spot. Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP-level and Julio Jones is fresh off of his first touchdown of the season last week against Washington. Meanwhile, the addition of Bruce Irvin and return of Deion Jones should help do wonders for this struggling Atlanta defense. Take the Falcons to cover the spread at home in this spot against a dysfunctional Browns’ team.
Prediction: Pick: Atlanta Falcons -6
Full-Game Total Pick
Cleveland has stayed under the projected total in 13 of their last 18 home games and if they are going to have any chance in this one, they are going to have to keep the Falcons off of the board. Even with Mayfield playing well over the past three weeks, the Browns have averaged just 20.7 points per game during that span. With reinforcements coming for the Falcons on defense, I’m leaning towards the under in this matchup in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.
Prediction: Under 50.5