Arizona Cardinals (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS, 2-1 O/U) vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS, 1-1 O/U)
NFL: Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -3.5. Total: 43.5.
The Atlanta Falcons will be playing their first game in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium when they host the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3 of the preseason on Saturday. Atlanta is coming off consecutive losses at the hands of Miami and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals have already taken the field three times–all at home–and stand at 1-2, having most recently fallen to Chicago.
Not too happy
Arizona head coach Bruce Arians was none too pleased with his team’s performance in last weekend’s 24-23 loss to Chicago. On the bright side, the Cardinals were leading 7-3 when Arians pulled the starters and no notable injuries were sustained. Still, the younger guys disappointed for the most part. Among them were inside linebackers Haason Reddick and Scooby Wright, who replaced Karlos Dansby and Deone Bucannon. The 35-year-old Dansby will not play much during the preseason and Buccanon is coming off ankle surgery (still on the PUP list).
“Especially those two inside linebackers (Reddick and Wright),” Arians noted. “Haason got better. He looked more like a linebacker (but) blew a couple of coverages that led to easy receptions. (Rookie safety) Budda (Baker) got better but still got victimized one time on a bootleg, and he was too far off on that touchdown pass. But he got better in the game. Both of those guys, he and Haason, will get better the more they play.”
Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman remains questionable for this weekend while going through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Freeman got banged up during practice and did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh.
“I don’t know yet,” head coach Dan Quinn said earlier this week. “He stayed back home this weekend. We will get rolling in with him tomorrow. He is looking up for sure. I talked to him [this past Sunday] morning and he was excited to see the guys play…. He asked what the meeting was like (Saturday) night, just wanting to know everything. He is that just that kind of teammate. It really bothers him that he isn’t here with his teammates.”
Of course, even without Freeman the Falcons still have Tevin Coleman in the backfield supporting reigning NFL MVP quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan and the rest of the starters paved the way to early leads in each of the first two preseason games before those contests got away from the backups.
The Arizona Cardinals are:
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games on grass
- 1-4 ATS in their last five road games against Atlanta
- 7-0 Over in their last seven overall
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against the NFC
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games on grass
There won’t be many preseason atmospheres quite like this one. With the defending NFC champions returning home for their first-ever game in a brand new stadium, it will be electric in Atlanta. The Falcons should once again boast one of the best offenses in football and that offense’s starters will likely play at least a half on Saturday. That’s bad news, of course, for the Cardinals. Arizona is 2-5 ATS in its last seven on grass and 1-4 ATS in its last five at Atlanta. The Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall, 6-1 ATS in their last seven against the NFC, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven on grass. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -3.5
Freeman’s status is worth monitoring, but either way, Atlanta has Coleman and also running back Terron Ward has looked good. Arizona’s run defense, meanwhile, was borderline miserable against the Bears. The over is 7-0 in the Cardinals’ last seven overall, 16-5 in their last 21 on the road, 6-0 in their last six against the NFC, and 4-0 in their last four on grass. It is also 16-4-1 in the Falcons’ last 21 overall, 11-0 in their last 11 at home, and 12-3-1 in their last 16 against the NFC. Additionally, the over is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings between the two teams and 4-1 in Arizona’s last five trips to Atlanta. Look for this one to go over the total.