The Eagles & Falcons both look to fly high as Monday Night Football Kicks off for 2015. This should be an interesting matchup of a good defensive coach vs. the high octane offense of Chip Kelly.
Sometimes it's not easy to back or make a team is favored on the road but it makes sense for the Eagles in this spot. Right now across the NFL odds board the line is around -3 on the Eagles and you can still get them at decent odds of -105 like at BetDSI at -3. Giving up a field-goal on the road the first game of the year needs to be thought about with professional football but I like the Eagles to win this game by at least a touchdown.
Last season under Kelly offensively Philadelphia ranked third in points per game at 29.6, fourth at 396.8 yards per game, and ninth with a third-down conversion rate of 43.46%. Adding Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray should really help enhance this already lethal offense. As long as the offensive line does its job in protecting Bradford (ranked 10th in sacks allowed last season) they should have no problem moving the ball in this game.
Defensively the Eagles ranked 22nd allowing 25 points per game, 28th at 375.6 yards per game, and 13th allowing a third-down conversion rate of 37.93%. They were decent last year defensively and that is the best word I can use. Decent at least against the run where they ranked fifth in the NFL allowing just 3.7 yards per rush. Passing though was a completely different story as they ranked worst in the league in passing yards per game allowing 264.9. They did bring in new cornerback Byron Maxwell that should help in that aspect, but this team lays its foundation on the up-tempo style of their offense. If they can just bend and not break they will be in good shape.
Offensively the Falcons ranked 12th in points per game at 23.8, seventh in yards per game at 378.2, and sixth with a third-down conversion rate of 44.29%. The Falcons have a well-rounded offense and Matt Ryan has been steady for them. They also were seventh-ranked in yards per play at 5.8 and had a pass happy offense that ranked third in the NFL passing the ball over 64% of the time. There are some question marks on the offensive line which may prove troublesome but eventually I think they will be okay. They were decent last season in keeping Ryan upright ranking eighth in QB sacks at 4.68%. Still, there are a lot of new faces on that line especially new Center Mike Person who will be a big factor in making sure the line knows their proper assignments.
Defensively Atlanta ranked 27th in the NFL in points per game at 26.1, last in yards per game at 398.2, and last in third-down conversion rates at 46.80%. Obviously with the addition of Quinn at the helm this defense should improve dramatically, but how much is the question mark. They were poor in all categories from yards allowed passing, yards allowed rushing, to getting to the quarterback only 3.74% of the time. My prediction is that they will improve but it is going to take a few games under their belt to get to respectable.
I usually like going against the trend but I think today the public is on the mark in backing Philadelphia. Go ahead and lay the points for one of your NFL picks and back the Eagles with confidence to win this game by touchdown or more.
NFL Pick: Eagles -3 (+101) at Pinnacle