Are the Atlanta Falcons the best team in the NFC? They're 4-0 SU and ATS, and they might be a sharp NFL pick this Sunday when they welcome Washington to town.
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 7: 16-9 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 10-13 Total
At what point do people start jumping on the Atlanta Falcons bandwagon? Hopefully not too soon. We had the Falcons as one of our NFC sleepers this year, but after four games at 4-0 SU and ATS, they might be the best team in the whole damn conference. Pro-Football Reference think so. They have Atlanta at +15.2 on their Simple Rating System, second only to the New England Patriots (+18.0 SRS) through Week 4.
Washington wasn't even supposed to make it out of the NFC East basement, and that might still be the case once January rolls around. But for now, Washington (2-2 SU and ATS) is one of three teams tied for the division lead. Pro-Football Reference even has D.C. rated better than average at +2.6 SRS. That's still a big enough gap for Atlanta to hit the NFL odds board as an 8-point home fave for Sunday's early matinee (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX).
The Wizard and the Half-Point Prince
Intrepid sharps weren't scared away from putting the Washington Redskins in their Week 4 NFL picks. In what was expected to be a good week for the underdogs, Kirk Cousins mounted a late touchdown drive to beat the Philadelphia Eagles (–3 away) 23-20. We didn't have a dog in that fight here at the ranch, but we did have UNDER 44 as Hurricane Joaquin was making its way up the East Coast.
Chalk appears to be back on the menu for Week 5. Our early consensus reports show a slim majority of bettors preferring the Falcons for Sunday's matchup. Then again, the spread has moved back and forth a bit since the open, and it seems like every book on our odds board has a slightly different take on the betting line. The best value on the favorites at press time is Atlanta –7.5 (+111) at Pinnacle and Matchbook. You can also get Atlanta –7 at the standard –110 vigorish, but that half-point isn't worth the 21-cent premium. Wizard of Odds says it's worth 14 cents.
Falconry for Beginners
Eventually, public bettors are going to jump on the Atlanta Falcons the same way they jumped on the Arizona Cardinals, who started the season 3-0 SU and ATS before losing to the St. Louis Rams (+7 away) last Sunday. Atlanta currently sits at No. 10 on the public money charts. Washington? Dead last at No. 32. Getting in now seems prudent if you're betting on the Falcons this week.
There could be some value in waiting out the week and betting on Washington, though. The Week 4 DVOA stats are fresh out of the oven at Football Outsiders, and with the first adjustments made for strength of schedule, the numbers come out similar to Pro-Football Reference's; Atlanta is fifth overall in efficiency, and Washington is in the middle of the pack at No. 18. We'll chew on that for a while and come back later with our picks against the spread and total.