Week 1 NFL picks for a Monday Night Football matchup that should provide plenty of fireworks when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles and Falcons both finished last season ranked in the top-10 in total offense and while a lot has changed in Philadelphia over one offseason the consensus is that they should be even better on the offensive side of the football. Meanwhile, Atlanta has emphasized improvement on the defensive side of the ball following the hiring of former Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as head coach but ultimately this looks like a game that could become a shootout.
How Has The Betting Line Moved?
Open: Philadelphia -1
This is an interesting game to handicap as both teams have been in transition this offseason. The Eagles have a new starting quarterback and while bettors would like to trust them, they are also on the road in the Georgia Dome, which normally isn’t an easy place to play. This game's NFL Odds seem to have bettors torn, but we believe we have found an edge worth a risk for today's NFL picks.
3 Key Storylines
The Eagles Reloaded Offense: A lot has been made about Chip Kelly overhauling his roster once again this year and the offense in particular has the potential to look very different with the addition of a new starting quarterback, no. 1 running back and two new receivers. Sam Bradford has always had the potential to be a star but has never been able to stay healthy and the consensus is that if he can stay on the football field he will be in for a career year in Philadelphia. It isn’t often that the league’s leading rusher leaves his team for a division rival but that is exactly what happened when running back DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles and he will be eager to go to work in Kelly’s offense. Philadelphia allowed wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to walk as a free agent and then signed veteran Miles Austin and drafted wide receiver Nelson Agholor with its first round pick. The Eagles will rely on Murray, Darren Sproles and Ryan Matthews a lot out of the backfield but it will also be interesting to see what Bradford can do with Agholor, Austin, Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper in terms of the team’s vertical passing game.
The Falcons Retooled Defense: Quinn’s Seahawks were the only defense that held Philadelphia’s offense to under 20 points last season when they managed to hold them to only 139 total yards and nine first downs. Quinn didn’t get to bring his entire Seattle roster with him to Atlanta but he did upgrade the team’s talent level on that side of the football with the additions of linebackers Justin Durant, Brooks Reed and rookie first-round pick defensive end Vic Beasley in particular. Quinn did bring with him the perfect scheme and game plan to keep the Eagles offense in check and while he will have to adjust based on the talent he has at his disposal he will definitely have his defense ready for their regular season debut.
Ryan Ready For Primetime: While the defense is in transition there is no doubt about the offense that Quinn inherits with the Falcons and in particular the damage that quarterback Matt Ryan can do this season. Ryan completed 66.1-percent of his passes for 4,694 yards and 28 touchdowns last season and he will have the chance to build on those numbers with a loaded cast of weapons led by wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta drafted rookie Justin Hardy in the fourth round as an ideal option to work out of the slot and signed veteran Leonard Hankerson but it’s Jones and White in particular that will have the opportunity to beat up on the Eagles secondary in Week 1 with Ryan looking to pick them apart.
Bet Early Or Bet Later…. And What’s The Play?
Kelly’s madness combined with the fact that Philadelphia reloaded on the offense in particular with the additions of Murray and Bradford will make the Eagles a popular public pick but we love what Atlanta did in the offseason and they appear to be somewhat underrated heading in to this season. The offense will once again be among the best in the NFL and if the defense can improve even marginally under Quinn this season then the Falcons should be a playoff team in 2015. This line isn’t likely to shift too dramatically barring a major preseason injury for either team but right now we like the Falcons at home in a Monday Night Football game they should be able to win straight up.
NFL Pick: Atlanta PICK at The Greek