The Atlanta Falcons will head to East Rutherford to take on the New York Jets in early preseason action Friday night from Metlife Stadium. The Falcons went 0-4 in the preseason last year, followed by a 10-6 regular season record. The Jets posted a 2-2 preseason record last season, followed by a 5-11 mark in the regular season.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones Renew Contracts
The Atlanta Falcons are again poised to contend after they were ousted by the Rams in the Wildcard last season. The Falcons offensive output dipped in 2017 compared to 2016, however, the offense is looking stronger than ever. Matt Ryan signed a contract extension and Julio Jones, who was threatening to miss training camp due to a contract holdout, was also extended. Matt Ryan regressed slightly last season, however, he still finished with 4095 passing yards to go with a 20:12 TD to INT ratio. The Falcons are set at wide receiver with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, and the running game is dangerous with the 1-2 punch of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. First-round pick Calvin Ridley will see his first NFL action in this one. The former Alabama star was drafted 26th overall. He injured his hamstring in camp, but has since returned to practice. The Falcons defense is deep with talent at every position highlighted by Vic Beasley and Deion Jones.
Matt Ryan will likely only see action in a drive or two, with the bulk of playing time going to Matt Schaub, Garrett Grayson and Kurt Benkert. Schaub was a starter for Houston for multiple seasons and he actually began his career with Atlanta. The 37-year old quarterback features a 133:90 TD to INT ratio over his 15 NFL seasons. Grayson and Benkert have not played in an NFL regular season game. Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game last season, ranking them 21st in the NFL. The Falcons defense had a strong 2017 season, limiting the opposition to an average of 19.7 points, good for eighth overall.
Sam Darnold Expected to Make NFL Debut
The New York Jets head into the season with renewed optimism after making some big moves in the offseason. They drafted highly-touted quarterback Sam Darnold with the third overall draft pick. Head coach Todd Bowles has stated the former USC star is currently their number three QB on the depth chart, however, he has taken some first-team reps in training camp. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell will split the duties at running back this season. The Jets bolstered their defense with the signing of Trumaine Johnson. The 28-year old is a very effective cornerback, and he will work opposite of Morris Claiborne. Johnson made two interceptions with the Rams last season, and he should improve a Jets pass defense that ranked 21st in the NFL last season. Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa is injured and will not suit up in this one.
The Jets will likely have all three of their quarterbacks receive playing time in this one. They feature Josh McCown and former Viking Teddy Bridgewater along with Sam Darnold. McCown was solid last season, posting an 18:9 TD to INT ratio in 13 games, and Bridgewater hasn’t seen any action since 2015 due to injury. Last season the Jets struggled to score with consistency, averaging 18.6 points, ranking them 24th in the NFL. The New York defense allowed an average of 23.9 points per game, pegging them 22nd in the NFL.
The New York Jets are:
- 8-1 ATS in their last 9 home games.
- 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 2-6 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- 4-8 ATS in their last 12 preseason games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am taking the Jets in this matchup. The Jets have three quarterbacks all looking to make a strong impression in the preseason. Sam Darnold and Josh McCown are battling for the number one spot, and Teddy Bridgewater could be traded if he plays well in preseason. McCown was solid last year, posting a career-best 67% completion percentage, and I believe the Jets have the QB edge in this one considering Matt Ryan will see little action. Furthermore, the Jets have solid depth at running back with Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell and Thomas Rawls. Lastly, the Falcons lost all four preseason games last season.
Prediction: New York Jets -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The Falcons are carrying solid depth defensively and they have not scored big points in preseason play. The Falcons defensive depth is good enough to at least contain the Jets, and Atlanta’s offense has not been productive in preseason play, scoring 14 or fewer points in three straight preseason games. The under hit in three of the Jets’ four preseason games last season, the under is 8-3 in Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles 12 preseason games.
Half-Time Side Pick
I am taking the Falcons on the first half line. The Falcons are the deeper team and I expect their depth to play a role in the first half. Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ running game can make a bigger early impact than the Jets starters can. Also, the Falcons scored more touchdowns in the first half than the second half last season.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons +2.5
Half-Time Total Bet
Going with the trends on the game total, I anticipate a lower scoring first half as well. Atlanta does not score big points in preseason, and the under has converted in six out of their last eight preseason games. While I do anticipate an efficient night from the Jets QB’s, the Falcons have solid depth in their secondary, and they limited opponents to only 214 passing yards per game last season.
Prediction: Under 18.5