The Atlanta Falcons appear to be the early football pick for Sunday's game against Washington, but there are some very, very tiny bets coming in on both sides.
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 7: 16-9 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 10-13 Total
Is it too early to “sell high” on the Atlanta Falcons (4-0 SU and ATS)? This has been one of the very best teams in the NFL through the first month of the 2015 campaign. Atlanta's margin of victory has improved in each of its four games, and with Washington (2-2 SU and ATS) coming to the Georgia Dome this Sunday, who knows how high the Falcons will fly. They're 7-point home faves on the NFL odds board as we go to press.
There's a very slim majority of early bettors willing to eat chalk on this contest. Mildly encouraging for Atlanta supporters, but our first expanded consensus reports are out, and it appears nobody's all that willing to take out that third mortgage and bet it all on either team. Washington is pulling in an average wager of just $33, and Atlanta bettors are even more parsimonious at $23 a pop. Feh.
The Long March to Mediocrity
We're somewhat less reluctant to bet on the Falcons. They'll be the public team in this matchup, already moving up from No. 10 to No. 8 on the public money charts, while Washington remains last at press time. But recreational bettors are still more interested in the Green Bay Packers, and even the Carolina Panthers, when it comes to the 4-0 teams. Grabbing Atlanta now at –7 seems prudent.
But Washington has done a very good job of complicating things this year. Rather than crumble into dust after starting the season with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, Washington has performed at close to league average in most aspects of the game. We touched briefly on the fresh Week 4 DVOA stats at Football Outsiders during our opening odds report; D.C. checks in at No. 18 overall, including No. 14 on offense, No. 17 on defense, and No. 19 on special teams. That's a big improvement across the board from last year.
Devonte, Get the Tables
Then again, it's another big step up before you reach the Falcons at No. 5 (No. 4 offense, No. 23 defense, No. 12 special teams). Atlanta's run blocking has improved substantially since injuries waylaid this team in 2013; this year's front five ranks No. 10 overall, and RB Devonte Freeman leads all players at his position with +88 rushing DYAR, adding another +45 DYAR receiving for good measure.
Having said that, good health has vaulted Washington to third in run blocking on the defensive line. In terms or raw yardage, opposing teams have rushed for just 312 yards in four games – only the New York Giants (279 yards) have done better. We'll keep that in mind when we make our NFL picks against the total. For now, it's another tiny, tiny wager on the Falcons, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Falcons –7 (–105) at Heritage