Pick Falcons' Point Spread vs. Titans in NFL Preseason Betting

Jason Lake

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 6:10 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 6:10 PM UTC

The Tennessee Titans have split their first two preseason games this year, straight up and against the football spreads. So have the Atlanta Falcons. Who will prevail when they meet Saturday night at the Georgia Dome?

The Atlanta Falcons would probably like to forget about 2013. After kicking off the Matt Ryan Era with five straight winning seasons and four trips to the playoffs, Atlanta experienced an epic meltdown last year, finishing 4-12 SU and draining cash along the way at 7-9 against the NFL odds. Not that it wasn’t predictable; the Falcons had regression written all over them, in large capital letters.

What goes down, sometimes comes up. The Falcons are poised for a bounce-back season in 2014, and this Saturday night, they’ll continue their preseason preparations against the Tennessee Titans, a team that football betting enthusiasts have in their sights this August. Our NFL odds board at press time shows Atlanta laying three points with a total of 44.

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Charlie Bit My Wallet
Regular readers will already know about Tennessee’s new head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, and the 8-16-1 ATS preseason record he compiled in his previous stay with the Arizona Cardinals. We’ve been using head coaching records as our lead NFL betting angle, to mixed results: Whisenhunt and the Titans (-2.5 at home) beat the Green Bay Packers 20-16 in their exhibition debut before losing 31-24 to the New Orleans Saints (-3 at home) in Week 2.

As they say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. The coaches’ records should have more predictive power in the preseason, where the games don’t count and the final score is more closely tied to the coaches and how they like to prepare. But there are still players involved, and Whisenhunt is dealing with an entirely new group of players than he had at his disposal in Glendale. That includes back-up quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who played very well against the Packers: 10-of-15 for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Alas, Whitehurst hurt his finger the following week against the Saints and had to leave the game after just three snaps. Oh, Charlie. Third-string QB Zach Mettenberger got an extended look and played quite well, hitting 20 of 35 throws for 269 yards, two TDs and an interception. Sadly for the Titans, they also fumbled the ball four times and lost all four of them. Perhaps Tennessee will have a little more luck with those bounces against Atlanta. As for Whitehurst, he sat out Monday’s practice and is listed as probable for Week 3.


Sam I Ain’t
Atlanta head coach Mike Smith doesn’t have the greatest preseason track record, either. He went into 2014 at 9-13-2 ATS, but that didn’t prevent us from pounding the Falcons in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, whose coach Joe Philbin was dramatically worse at 1-8 ATS. The Falcons did indeed win that game 16-10 as 3-point home favorites. Then they lost 32-7 to the Houston Texans (-3 at home), another strong “follow” candidate for 2014 after getting coated in chocolate last year.

The coaches’ preseason ATS records suggest we should bet on the Falcons again this Saturday (7:00 p.m. ET), especially with the advanced stats pointing at a comeback year in the Dirty South. But we need to temper our enthusiasm in this case. Not only does Whisenhunt have a better crew of back-up QBs; the Falcons have also suffered their first key injury of the season. LT Sam Baker is already lost for the year with a torn patellar tendon, forcing No. 6 overall pick Jake Matthews to switch from right tackle to protect Ryan’s blind side. Lamar Holmes will therefore get his old starting job back – for now, at least. Let’s charitably give Atlanta the benefit of the doubt this week.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Falcons -3 (-116) at Pinnacle

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