The first Monday Night Football broadcast of the new season sees the Atlanta Falcons host the Philadelphia Eagles, and it's the Eagles getting all the love on the NFL odds board.
Even Chip Kelly has his limits. It sure seemed like the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles was going to anoint Tim Tebow as his No. 3 quarterback, but Kelly cut him loose at the end of training camp, and picked up former Miami Hurricanes QB Stephen Morris off the scrap heap instead. And that's how one of the most interesting offseason makeovers in the NFL ended, not with a bang but a whimper.
We'll see Kelly's new creation take its first steps when the Eagles visit the Atlanta Falcons in the first of two Week 1 games on Monday Night Football (6:55 p.m. ET, ESPN). Tebow or no Tebow, people have been waiting all summer for the great unveiling, and at press time, the Eagles have moved from –1 to –3 on our NFL odds board, with nearly two-thirds of early bettors jumping on the Philly bandwagon. Move 'em on, head 'em up.
They say that early money is sharp money, and our expanded consensus figures for this contest help support that claim. In terms of raw dollars, our surveys show over 68 percent of the action coming in on Philadelphia, including three $1000+ bets compared to two for Atlanta. The average bet size for both teams is still relatively small, though. Even Washington and Tampa Bay are pulling in larger average bets than the Eagles.
All we need is just a little patience. The betting public is more likely to lay wood on Monday night's matchup at some point over the weekend. However, Atlanta has been a “small-market” team for some time now, and the Falcons are coming off two very poor seasons, so it's understandable if the action is a little light on this game.
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The sharps might also be wary of betting on the Eagles until we've seen proof that Kelly's monster can walk and talk and sing “Puttin' On the Ritz.” We're looking at an offense with Sam Bradford at quarterback, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews at running back, and Miles Austin at wide receiver. Health is obviously a big question mark going forward, but for now, the results from training camp and the preseason (3-1 SU and ATS) suggest the Eagles are on the right foot.
The Falcons have gone through even bigger changes this offseason, but with much less fanfare. It starts with new head coach Dan Quinn, most recently the defensive co-ordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Long-time fixtures LB Sean Weatherspoon, DE Corey Peters and WR Harry Douglas have also been replaced by LB Brooks Reed, DE Adrian Clayborne and WR Leonard Hankerson. Will these changes be enough to propel the Falcons back to the top of the NFC South? The journey begins Monday night, and we'll be back later this week with our NFL picks against the spread and total.