No surprise that the biggest total on the Week 1 NFL odds board involves the Philadelphia Eagles. But will the Atlanta Falcons defense fly high this Monday night?
Jason's 2015 record as of Sept. 12: 1-0 ATS; 1-0 Total
How much is too much? When it comes to the total in a Chip Kelly game, the sky's the limit. His ever-evolving version of the spread offense was good for about 40 points a game in Oregon; since Kelly's arrival on the pro scene, the Philadelphia Eagles have been among the NFL's leading scorers, cranking out nearly 28 points per game in 2013 and almost 30 points last year.
We're about to find out what Kelly's Eagles have in store for us in 2015. They've got the first Monday Night Football game of the new season (6:55 p.m. ET, ESPN), against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, and go figure, this game has the highest total on the Week 1 NFL odds board – as high as 56 points as we go to press. The Eagles might score all those points by themselves Monday night.
It's Crazy Amazing
They might, but we wouldn't bet on it. Even with a team as offensively gifted as the Eagles, our first inclination with a 56-point total should be to put the UNDER in our NFL picks. The real question: How big of a bet should we make? We've semi-arbitrarily set the margin for UNDER territory at 52 points; everything else being equal, the larger the total gets from here, the bigger your bet should be. So 56 points should warrant a fairly sizeable wager.
In theory. We still have to look at the situation on the ground, and this is where things get confusing – as they always do. The Eagles offense has done some amazing things on Kelly's watch, but will that amazement continue with Sam Bradford at quarterback? At least he'll be healthy for Week 1 after tearing his left ACL twice and missing the last 25 games.
Hello Vic, How Ya Doin'
On the other side of the dome, you've got a new Falcons regime under head coach Dan Quinn, most recently the defensive co-ordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. Atlanta had the worst defense in the league last year, according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders. There's nowhere to go but up from here. The linebackers certainly look better with free-agent signings Justin Durant and Brooks Reed, plus first-rounder Vic Beasley from Clemson playing as a LEO.
Meanwhile, Atlanta's offense appears to have taken a step back. The offensive line had to be shuffled earlier this week, with a pair of new starters in center Mike Pearson and LG Andy Levitre. QB Matt Ryan is one of the most prolific passers in the NFL, which also leaves him prone to getting hit on a regular basis. The Eagles ranked No. 10 last year in adjusted sack rate at 7.1 percent. We could easily see another shootout at the Georgia Dome, but given the massive total and the question marks surrounding both teams, we're happy enough to take the UNDER for now.
NFL Pick: Take UNDER 56 at SportsInteraction