By: Jason Green
Atlanta Falcons (11-6 SU 8-9 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3 SU 10-6 ATS)
The Falcons have won Four of their last five Games and in the Wild Card round of the playoffs they were in LA LA L and doubled up the Rams beating them 26-13. They head into this playoff Game as a rare road favorite and the main reason is that the Eagles are without Carson Wentz. The defense is what has really been getting it done for Atlanta and in the regular season they ranked 8th in the league in points allowed while ranking just 15th in ppg.
At 5 dimes sportsbook the Falcons are the 2.5-point favorite with a total of 41.
The Eagles had a bye last week in the opening round of the playoffs and they were shut out in their last Game of the season. Backup QB Nick Foles had a solid first start taking over for Wentz and then was less than stellar in his next two starts iNCluding the last one when Philly laid a goose-egg. Even if Foles does not have the best Game the defense can get it done, which they have done lately giving up a total of 16 points in their last two Games, and overall they rank 4th in the league in points allowed.
These teams faced each other last season in Philadelphia where the Eagles beat the Falcons 24-15.
The Eagles have covered the spread in six of their last eight home Games facing the Falcons.
The Falcons were on the road in their last Game in their 26-13 win over the L.A. Rams where Atlanta had less overall yards (322 to 361), but they forced two turnovers and did not commit any and they outscored L.A. 13-3 in the 2nd half. Matt Ryan passed 218 yards with a TD and no picks and Julio Jones led the team with 98 receiving yards with Mohamed Sanu having 74. Ryan has only been picked off oNCe in his last Four Games, but he also only has one TD in each of his last five Games. Atlanta did rush for 124 yards but Devonta Freeman (66 rushing yards) only averaged 3.7 yards per carry and Tevin Coleman (40 rushing yards) only averaged 2.9 yards per carry.
The Eagles have the best run defense in the NFL, but only rank 17th against the pass and they have to pressure Ryan in this Game and not let him make the big play to Jones and company down the field.
Philadelphia did end the season on a high note losing to the Dallas Cowboys 6-0 in a barnburner. However, they rested several key guys already playoff bound and Foles only took 11 snaps. The Eagles were out-GAined 301 yards to 219 yards, only rushed for 70 yards, and they had two turnovers. Foles only passed for 39 yards with no TD and a pick and LeGArrette Blount led the team with only 37 yards. After passing for Four TD and no INT in his first start after taking over for Wentz he only had one with two INT in his last two Games. RB Jay Ajayi is dealing with knee soreness and missed the season finale and he is listed as questionable for this Game and his loss would be a big one.
On the season the Falcons ranked 12th in the league defending the pass and 9th defending the run.
The Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Games facing a team with a winning record, 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road Games, and in their last 6 Games they have an Under record of 6-0.
The Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Games, 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home Games, and in their last 5 home Games they have an Under record of 4-1.
Jason’s Pick: The Falcons were on the road in their last Game and won and they will also get the W in this Game in the City of Brotherly Love. Ryan will have a good Game, but the differeNCe maker will be the Atlanta defense that will hold Foles and company in check. The Falcons will win and cover and advaNCe to the NFC Championship Game for the 2nd straight season.
Bettorsworld Pick – Granted, the Eagles will miss Carson Wentz. However, what so many people often forget is that there are 11 players on each side of the ball, along with a huge supporting cast, all having contributed to a fantastic 13-3 season (7-1 at home) and a first round bye.
The Eagles were 7-1 at home this season outscoring opponents by an average score of 29-13. With that kind of margin, there’s a little wiggle room for their offense to not be as productive as they were with Wentz and still come out on top.
Nick Foles has plenty of experieNCe under his belt, iNCluding leading the Eagles to the playoffs in 2013. It’s not as if the Eagles are starting a rookie. Heck, even Tim Tebow was able to win a playoff Game a few years ago! Remember, football is a TEAM sport and the Eagles have a good one.
We’re going to take the added line value here with the Eagles in a Game we think they can win straight up. Eagles +3