Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#287 Philadelphia Eagles -1 vs.
#288 Atlanta Falcons 51
Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 8:20pm EDT
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Written by Chris Kubala

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#287 Philadelphia
#288 Atlanta
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A pair of NFC teams that got off to different starts in their respective season openers clash on Sunday Night Football down in Hotlanta. The Philadelphia Eagles are on the road as they make the trip to face the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night. Philadelphia rallied to earn a 32-27 win at home over Washington in their season opener last Sunday afternoon. Atlanta was flummoxed most of the way as they were downed 28-12 on the road by Minnesota last Sunday. The Eagles own a 17-13-1 lead in the all-time regular season series, including an 18-12 home win in the last matchup on September 6, 2018.

 

A Quick Review of the Season to Date

Philadelphia Eagles Review

Philadelphia was horrible early in their season opener at home against the Redskins. The Eagles trailed 17-0 five minutes into the second quarter and the volatile crowd in the City of Brotherly Love was booing vociferously. Philadelphia was down 20-7 at the half before finally getting things going. The Eagles reeled off 25 unanswered points to take control of the game and didn’t give up another score until only six seconds were left in the game. The Eagles rode the big play as they had two touchdown passes that covered more than 50 yards en route to the victory.

The Eagles held a 436-398 advantage in total offense in the game as both quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards. Philadelphia picked up 22 first downs while allowing 15 and controlled the clock by a solid 34:27 to 25:33 margin in the contest. There were no turnovers in the game but the ability to run the ball proved to be the difference in the game. Philadelphia picked up 123 yards on the ground in the contest while they held Washington to just 28 rushing yards. The Eagles scored on all four of their meaningful second half possessions and dominated the clock after intermission: Philadelphia held the ball for 21:08 to Washington’s 8:52 in that span.

Atlanta Falcons Review

Atlanta was unable to get things going in the early stages of the game. Miscues on offense and special teams, coupled with an inability to slow the ground game of the Vikings, put the Falcons in a 14-0 hole in the first quarter and they were unable to regroup. Atlanta trailed 21-0 at the half and was down 28-0 after three quarters before they finally got their offense rolling. By the time the Falcons managed to put points on the board, it was far too little, too late for them. Most of Atlanta’s offensive production came when the game was already out of reach.

The Falcons did manage to win the total yardage battle in the game as they outgained Minnesota 345-269 in the contest. It’s important to note that most of that yardage came in the second half when the game was well in hand for the Vikings. Atlanta had drives of 82, 66 and 71 yards after the team was down 21-0. The Falcons’ last best chance to get back in the game came on that 82-yard drive, which covered 13 plays and took 7:37 off the clock in the third quarter. On second and goal from the three-yard line, Matt Ryan threw an interception in the back of the end zone. Minnesota took over, went 80 yards in six plays for a touchdown to make it 28-0 with 29 seconds left in the third quarter and the game was over at that point.

Philadelphia Eagles Offense vs. Atlanta Falcons Defense

Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense

Philadelphia wasn’t overly effective with the ground game, especially in the early going, but once the momentum shifted their way in the second half, things changed. The Eagles dominated the time of possession in the second half and that helped them reel off 25 unanswered points. One thing that is still unsettled about Philadelphia is how their running back committee will pan out. As it stands, a trio of backs had at least a half-dozen carries: the team ran the ball 31 times for 123 yards and a score.

Darren Sproles leads the team on the ground with nine carries for 47 yards this season. Jordan Howard, who came over in the offseason from Chicago, has six carries for 44 yards while rookie second-round pick Miles Sanders has 11 carries for 25 yards. Carson Wentz has four rushes for five yards while Alshon Jeffery has one carry for two yards and a score. On the season, the Eagles are still looking for their first run of at least 20 yards: they have recorded nine first downs via the ground game so far.

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense

Atlanta had all kinds of problems containing the ground game of the Vikings in the opener. The Falcons were punched in the mouth early and when they didn’t respond to it, Minnesota simply continued to batter them into submission. After all, if a team can’t stop you from moving the chains when you’re doing something, why change it up? The Falcons weren’t able to prevent the Vikings from grinding the clock, picking up yards and moving the chains. When it was all said and done, Atlanta saw Minnesota pound them for 38 carries totaling 172 yards and three scores.

Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison leads the team with eight tackles (four solo) on the season. De’Vondre Campbell has six tackles (six solo) while Grady Jarrett (five tackles), Deion Jones (five tackles), Foye Oluokun (five tackles), Takkarist McKinley (four tackles) and Allen Bailey (three tackles) all were busy as their front seven saw plenty of action. Jarrett leads the team with two tackles for loss while McKinley and Davison each have one. The Falcons have recorded four tackles for loss as a team this season while allowing the opposition to move the sticks 10 times via the ground game.

Who Has the Edge?

We saw a couple different strategies in the first week of the season. Philadelphia, even after falling behind 17-0, stuck with the ground game. That paid dividends, especially after the Eagles hit their two long touchdown passes to take the lead. Once that happened, the Redskins had to alter their strategy and it opened up running lanes for Philadelphia to take advantage of. Atlanta was brutalized by the Minnesota run game as they were just repeatedly punched in the mouth. The Falcons showed no fire in stopping the ground attack and that gives the Eagles the edge here.

Advantage: Philadelphia Eagles

Aerial Assault: Who Has the Upper Hand?

Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense

After falling behind 17-0 five minutes into the second quarter, the Eagles had to turn to their passing game to get back into the contest. Philadelphia went to the air and hit some big strikes, including touchdown passes of 51 and 53 yards, as they sliced through the Redskins’ pass defense with ease. Their success with the passing game, especially on those deep routes, helped open up everything else, from the short and intermediate routes to the run game. It added up to more than 300 yards through the air and an Eagles victory.

 

Carson Wentz completed 28 of 39 passes for 313 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions on the year. He has been sacked once, though the team didn’t lose any yards in the process. DeSean Jackson, who came back in the offseason after spending last season with Washington, led the way with eight receptions for 153 yards and two scores. Zach Ertz (five receptions, 54 yards), Alshon Jeffery (five grabs, 49 yards, TD), Darren Sproles (three catches, 16 yards), Dallas Goeddert (two grabs, 16 yards) and Nelson Agholor (two receptions, 11 yards) are also effective targets. All told, the Eagles have three pass plays that covered at least 20 yards: Jackson has two while Ertz has the other this season.

Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense

There are two ways to look at how things went for the Falcons defensively against the pass in week 1. One can look at it and say “hey, Atlanta held Minnesota to under 100 yards through the air and gave up only one touchdown pass” if you’re looking at things as the glass is half-full. On the other side of the coin, you can look and see how the Vikings only had to throw the ball 10 times against Atlanta’s defense and they managed to complete eight of those. The Falcons may have given up only 98 yards but they did give up an 80 percent completion rate, which is alarming.

Jarrett leads the team in sacks as he has one on the season. With the lack of passing attempts against Atlanta so far this season, the team has no pass defenses or interceptions on the books this season. One has to think that Wentz will test the secondary, led by corners Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver along with safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. The Falcons are going to have their hands full trying to contend with Ertz, Jackson, Agholor, Goeddert and Jeffery in this one.

Who Has the Edge?

We didn’t see the Falcons do much in pass defense in the opener, mainly because Minnesota didn’t have to throw the ball all that much. When the Vikings did drop back to pass, the Falcons didn’t generate much in the way of a pass rush. As a matter of fact, they were unable to force Cousins to throw off target much either as he misfired on just two of 10 throws. You have to think that Wentz is going to be salivating to get his cracks at the Falcons’ secondary at this point. The Eagles have too many weapons to contend with for Atlanta to cover. Philadelphia gets the edge here.

Advantage: Philadelphia Eagles

Atlanta Falcons Offense vs. Philadelphia Eagles Defense

Who Has the Edge in the Ground Game?

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense

Atlanta’s run game was pretty much neutered in the early going. The Falcons gave up a touchdown on Minnesota’s opening two drives to put them in a 14-0 hole and that made life difficult. Atlanta trailed 21-0 at the half and at that point, the Falcons had to pretty much abandon the ground game in an effort to try and get back into contention. That’s not a situation that coach Dan Quinn wants to see his team get into on a regular basis because it makes a team one-dimensional. When the Falcons ran the ball, they were somewhat effective, running the ball 17 times for 73 yards, but it wasn’t the game plan that the team envisioned.

Ito Smith leads the Falcons on the ground as he ran the ball six times for 31 yards on the year. Matt Ryan has two carries for 24 yards while Devonta Freeman struggled in his return after missing most of the 2018 season with knee and foot injuries followed by groin surgery. He had eight carries for 19 yards but also lost a fumble in the contest. Russell Gage had one carry for negative one yard. As a team, the Falcons have no rushes that have picked up at least 20 yards: they have recorded five first downs via the ground game this season.

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense

While the Eagles had their struggles containing the Redskins in the early going of the contest, which put them in a 17-0 hole, they weren’t hurt by the run game. Philadelphia kept the Redskins’ rushing attack in check as they were aggressive with stunts and run blitzes designed to force Washington to the air. Once the Eagles took the lead in the second half, it forced the Redskins away from even attempting to run the ball: all told, the Eagles held Washington to 13 carries for 28 yards on the ground.

Nigel Bradham leads the team with seven tackles (six solo) on the season. Ronald Darby (five tackles), Andrew Sendejo (five tackles), Avonte Maddox (four tackles) and Derek Barnett (four tackles) are next in line in that department. Tim Jernigan (one tackle), Fletcher Cox (two tackles) and Brandon Graham (two tackles) each have one tackle for loss to tie for the team lead. All told, the Eagles have three tackles for loss and have not given up a first down via the ground this season. The loss of Malik Jackson, who suffered a foot injury and is expected to be lost for the season, will take a toll on the defensive line.

Who Has the Edge?

Atlanta had some success when they ran the ball in their opener but the fact that game situation dictated that the team rely on the pass proved to be problematic. Freeman seemed to be less of a factor after he fumbled as Smith saw some work. Philadelphia shut down the Redskins’ ground game and it is important to note that Washington didn’t abandon the run because of the score. The Eagles trailed by 13 points at the half and held a narrow one-point edge after three quarters. Washington just was held in check and then made the decision to focus on the passing game. Until we see what the Falcons can do on the ground, you have to give Philadelphia the upper hand.

Advantage: Philadelphia Eagles

Who Has the Upper Hand in the Passing Attack?

Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense

While the run game didn’t really work for the Falcons in their opener, they did manage to get the passing game going. While a fair amount of their yardage came in garbage time with the game already long decided, it did give Atlanta something to build on going forward. They managed to put up a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns by driving down the field and finally looking like the team that are expected to contend for the NFC South crown. The Falcons went over 300 yards through the air in the opener but can they move the ball when it matters? That’s what we’re waiting to see.

Matt Ryan has completed 33 of 46 passes for 304 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He has been sacked four times, leading to 32 yards in losses in the process. Tight end Austin Hooper paces the team in receptions with nine grabs for 77 yards on the year. Julio Jones has hauled in six passes for 31 yards plus a score while Mohamed Sanu (five receptions, 57 yards) and Calvin Ridley (four catches, 64 yards, TD) are effective targets in the aerial game as well. Atlanta has four pass plays covering at least 20 yards through the air: Ridley leads the team with two while Sanu and Justin Hardy (four catches, 41 yards) each have one.

Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense

Philadelphia, for as good as they were against the run in the opening week of the season, struggled against the pass. The Eagles made journeyman Case Keenum look like Joe Montana in the first half as he shredded Philadelphia’s defense. While things improved in the second half of the game, the Eagles still have work to do in order to shore up the secondary. Philadelphia can ill afford to be sliced up like they were by Keenum because Matt Ryan can make life difficult for opposing defenses if given half a chance. The Eagles allowed Keenum to hit 30 of 44 passes for 380 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, marking a career-high in passing yards for the Washington quarterback.

Tim Jernigan leads the team in sacks with one on the season. Ronald Darby (five tackles) paces the Eagles’ defense with two pass defenses. Avonte Maddox (four tackles), Rasul Douglas (three tackles), Fletcher Cox (two tackles) and Sidney Jones (three tackles) each have one pass defense. On the season, the Eagles have one sack, no interceptions and six pass defenses. They need to improve in order to have success as the season wears on.

Who Has the Edge?

Philadelphia saw a lot of pass plays last week and the early reports aren’t all that promising when you compare things to last season. The Eagles were torched by Keenum, who set his career-high for passing yards in the week 1 contest. Ryan has the ability to rack up big yardage totals, as we saw in the opener. Though most of those were empty yards, they still look good on the stat sheet. The Falcons have four terrific options to look for in the passing game with Jones, Hooper, Ridley and Sanu. That poses a major challenge for the Eagles to contend with and it gives Atlanta the edge.

Advantage: Atlanta Falcons

Special Teams, Coaching, & Intangibles

Special Teams

Advantage: Philadelphia Eagles

Coaching

Advantage: Philadelphia Eagles

Intangibles

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia is a solid sixth in the league in scoring offense as they put up 32 points per game on the season. The Eagles are eighth in the league in total offense with 436 yards per game and stand 12th in yards per play with 6.1 yards per snap. Philadelphia struggles a bit defensively, ranking 27th in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 27 points per contest. The Eagles are only 20th in total defense as they allow 398 yards per game and are 23rd as they give up 6.9 yards per play. Philadelphia is tied for 14th in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are even on the season.

The Eagles are 14th in red zone success as they have cashed in 66.67 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Philadelphia is tied for 11th in red zone defense as they have limited opposing teams to a 50 percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns goes. Philadelphia has been stellar in extending drives as they are second in the league by converting 64.71 percent of their third down situations. The Eagles are above average in getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 38.46 percent of their third downs, which is currently 11th in the league. Philadelphia is fourth in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 57.42 percent of the time.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta is a lousy 28th in the league in scoring offense as they average 12 points per game on the season. The Falcons currently are 20th in the league in total offense with 345 yards per game and stand 22nd in yards per play with only 5.1 yards per snap. Atlanta is 21st in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 28 points per contest. The Falcons are a solid 7th in total defense as they allow 269 yards per game and are just ahead of the middle of the pack, ranking 13th as they give up 5.5 yards per play. Atlanta is miserable in the takeaway/giveaway department, ranking tied for 30th as they are a -3 on the season.

The Falcons are tied for 18th in red zone success as they have cashed in only 50 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Atlanta is struggling in their red zone defense: they are tied for 24th as opposing teams have a 100 percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns goes. Atlanta is only 26th in the league in third down conversions as they have converted a measly 25 percent of their opportunities this season. They have converted 100 percent of their fourth down situations on the year. The Falcons are mediocre in getting off the field as opposing teams have converted an even 50 percent of their third downs, which is 19th in the league. Atlanta is 14th in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 50.36 percent of the time.

Who Has the Edge?

Atlanta’s inability to come up with plays in the red zone on either side of the ball is troublesome. Ryan threw an interception in the end zone to thwart the Falcons’ last best chance to get back in the game. The Falcons also had a punt blocked that set up the Vikings with favorable field position early on in the game and put them in a hole they couldn’t dig their way out of. Philadelphia, for all their struggles early, bounced back and came up with the win. Their ability to move the sticks on third down was a critical part of the game. Atlanta flat out struggled in the opening game of the season and it’s an uphill climb here. Give the Eagles the edge.

Advantage: Philadelphia Eagles

Final Outlook – Time to place those bets!

We saw how Philadelphia had their struggles against the pass in the opener, which works for the Falcons. The problem is, for all the success Atlanta had through the air against Minnesota, they never were in the game after the first seven minutes or so. Once they went down 14-0, the game plan went out the window and the Falcons never recovered. Philadelphia was effective offensively as the passing game loosened up the Washington defense and allowed them to work the ball on the ground. Having a trio of backs that can do damage is a nice benefit to have. We saw Cook and Mattison gouge the Falcons’ defense last week and that could happen again here.

Atlanta’s defense was weak last week and now they have to contend with the aerial attack that the Eagles bring to the table. We know that the Falcons can move the ball through the air but one has to wonder how much faith Dan Quinn has in Freeman right now after he missed most of last season, then fumbled in the opener. Philadelphia’s secondary can be exposed and that can keep the Falcons in the game but as it stands, Atlanta has too many issues to be considered a viable option. Give the points and take the Eagles in this one.

The Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall. Atlanta has gone 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS loss, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in September and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up loss of more than 14 points.

The over is 6-1 in the Eagles’ last 7 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game, 13-3-1 in their last 17 games in Week 2 and 21-8 in their last 29 road games vs. a team with a losing home record. Atlanta has seen the over go 9-3 in their last 12 in September, 7-3 in their last 10 after an ATS loss and 7-3 in their last 10 in week 2. This one ends up over as both teams move the ball through the air to put up points.

Philadelphia Eagles 34, Atlanta Falcons 21
Updated: please continue below for details and new prediction.

Updated on Sep 14 at 3:30pm EDT

Philadelphia has a few injuries to deal with at this point in time with the biggest one being strongside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who is out once again with a knee injury and is expected to miss a few weeks. That pushes Nathan Gerry into a starting role for the time being. Backup right tackle Jordan Mailata is still out with a lower back injury and is expected to miss multiple weeks. The loss of Malik Jackson with a foot injury leading to him being placed on injured reserve is a blow to the defensive line. Other than that, third-string QB Nate Sudfeld is doubtful with a wrist injury and Jalen Mills remains out as he is on the PUP list with a foot injury he suffered last October: he can’t return until at least week 7.

Atlanta lost one of their first-round picks as guard Chris Lindstrom was placed on injured reserve after he broke his foot in the opener. In addition to him being out, backup tackle Matt Gono is out with a back injury while receiver Russell Gage is listed as questionable with a concussion. If Gage can’t go, that would open up more routes for Justin Hardy and Olamide Zaccheaus when the Falcons go to a four-wide set.

With Mercedes-Benz Stadium having a retractable roof, the weather shouldn’t be a factor. However, for those who might have interest in what it may be like outside, the game-time temperature is slated to be around the mid-80s with winds from the east-northeast between five and 10 miles per hour. As of this writing, there is no precipitation in the forecast, which should work out well for tailgaters prior to the contest.

The early line in this contest had the game set as a pick ’em with the over/under set at 51 points. As of Saturday afternoon, the line has trended to the Eagles sitting as a 1.5-point favorite in the contest. The over/under has trended up as well as it has moved to 52.5 points in this contest. Currently, the moneyline shows Philadelphia as a -120 to -140 favorite while Atlanta can be found as a +105 to +120 underdog depending on the sportsbook. As of this writing, 65 percent of the bets are backing Philadelphia -1.5 points. When it comes to the moneyline, a solid majority, 61 percent, of the wagers are backing the Eagles as the visitors. Meanwhile, 72 percent of bets are projecting this one to go over the total.

After seeing the way that Case Keenum slashed up the Philadelphia secondary in the opener, Matt Ryan has to be grinning from ear to ear. If the Falcons’ offensive line can hold up and not get battered the way they did by Minnesota, you have to think that they’ll be able to move the ball with success. Atlanta has to scramble to put some things together on the offensive line but with Jones, Sanu and Ridley, along with Hooper, they have the targets that will make life tough for the Eagles’ defense. With that said, the Falcons have their issues defensively and that works for Wentz. The Eagles get the win here in a game that should be a high-scoring affair.

Philadelphia Eagles 34, Atlanta Falcons 28

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.