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Falcons To Set Tone With Surprise Opening-Day Win

September 5, 2018

After a seven-month absence the NFL returns as the reigning Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles return to the field for the first time in competitive action since defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium.

Nick Foles put on a clinic in Minnesota to guide Doug Pederson’s men to their first Vince Lombardi Trophy. Foles was starting in relief of Carson Wentz, who suffered a torn ACL towards the end of the regular season.

Wentz will remain sidelined for the opener, leaving Foles once again in the starting role. The Falcons were one of the sides that the Eagles defeated on their way to the crown.

However, both teams have changed over the off-season. Philadelphia have lost players from their Super Bowl run, although they’ve also made a key addition in the form of Michael Bennett.

Atlanta have the quality and youth on their side for another surge to the Super Bowl. They will have optimism that if quarterback Matt Ryan can regain his form from 2016 it will be well within their grasp due to the improving parts on the defensive side of the ball.

The Falcons will be aiming to set the tone by defeating the reigning champions on opening night.

Will Ryan lead the Falcons to victory?

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were outstanding in their run to the Super Bowl. After losing Wentz they were considered the underdogs throughout the post-season. However, Foles and the defense were able to rise to the occasion to beat the Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and the Patriots to secure the Lombardi Trophy. Philadelphia now become the hunted team in the NFL. It is extremely difficult to enjoy repeat success in the league, with the Patriots being the last team to win back-to-back crowns between 2004 and 2005. Both the Seahawks and the Patriots have come closest to breaking the trend, but have been undone at the final hurdle.

The Eagles will have to embrace that fact, and Foles will have to rediscover his playoff form against the Falcons. His performance against Atlanta was the worst of the post-season. Pederson’s men needed a goalline stand from their defense to hold off the Falcons in the Divisional Round. Foles was able to move the ball seamlessly down the field in the post-season, but considering Alshon Jeffery was a huge part of his success and the wideout has barely trained over the summer, there is cause for concern. Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz will have to lead the attack through the air, while Jay Ajayi will have make inroads in the ground following LeGarrette Blount’s depature.

Philadelphia will have confidence in their defense. Their defensive line has the potential to be the best in the NFL. Bennett will join Fletcher Cox and the hero of Super Bowl LII Brandon Graham in forming a ferocious pass-rush. There will be expectations of Derek Barnett to develop into player of their ilk in his second season in the NFL. Jordan Hicks returns from injury in the linebacking corps, although there are concerns about the depth of the unit along with the talent of the secondary that was carved apart by Tom Brady in Minnesota.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons were beaten by the Eagles in the Divisional Round, being denied on the goalline as Ryan failed to connect with Julio Jones in the endzone. It was the story of Atlanta’s season as they struggled to find the same rhythm on offense as the 2016 campaign. Steve Sarkisian failed to bring the balance that Kyle Shanahan brought out of the team as offensive coordinator. Ryan’s form slumped as a result, although there is hope that he can rediscover his edge in 2018.

The 33-year-old will have all of his weapons back, while Calvin Ridley will be added into the mix after being selected in the first round of the 2018 Draft. Ryan now has his All-Pro Jones alone with Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper and two fine running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to utilise. There’s pressure on Sarkisian to get the offense firing in his second term. There are plenty of weapons at his disposal, although it will be a tough challenge in the opener.

Dan Quinn’s men have established a stout defense since his arrival in the 2015 campaign. Vic Beasley leads the pass-rush, although he will be aiming to bounce back from an underwhelming 2017. Takkarist McKinley made an impression in his rookie campaign and will be looking to kick on courtesy of a fast start in the opener.

Grady Jarrett has been formidable in the middle of the line, displaying the strength on the line. Deion Jones has established himself as one of the leading linebackers in the NFL. His ability to cover sideline-to-sideline along with adding power against the run makes him a rare quality in the NFL. The secondary is stocked with talent, including 2017 Pro Bowler Keanu Neal. There’s no excuse for this unit not be in the top 10 in the league this term.

Betting Options

The visiting team on the opening night of the season traditionally struggles. However, the Kansas City Chiefs bucked the trend last term, defeating the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Atlanta are in the same mould and did push the Eagles all the way in the Divisional Round.

It’s a good time to play Pederson’s men without the presence of Wentz and Jeffery at 100%. Ryan has the capability of exposing the Eagles’ secondary in the same way as Brady in the Super Bowl. Therefore back the Falcons to snatch the surprise win on the road at +116  at BetOnline, while take them on a -3 spread with 888Sport at odds of 33/20 .

Take the over on points to be scored in the contest at 47 with odds of 23/20  with 888Sport. Touchdowns will be an interesting facet of the game in terms of who notches them for their respective sides. Ryan should be active in the redzone, take him to throw the most touchdowns in the contest at 13/10  with 888Sport. There are some quality rookies in the contest. Back Dallas Goedert to start his career with a score for the Eagles anytime at 7/2 , while Ridley is a good price at 3/1  with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Atlanta Falcons To Beat Philadelphia Eagles
Thursday 6th September 2018 20:30 ET (Friday 7th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: +116

Atlanta Falcons -3 Spread
Thursday 6th September 2018 20:30 ET (Friday 7th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: 33/20

Over 47 Points To Be Scored
Thursday 6th September 2018 20:30 ET (Friday 7th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: 23/20

Dallas Goedert To Score Touchdown Anytime
Thursday 6th September 2018 20:30 ET (Friday 7th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: 7/2

Calvin Ridley To Score Touchdown Anytime
Thursday 6th September 2018 20:30 ET (Friday 7th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: 3/1

Matt Ryan To Throw Most Touchdowns In Match
Thursday 6th September 2018 20:30 ET (Friday 7th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: 13/10

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Matt Ryan
  • NFL
  • Nick Foles
  • Philadelphia Eagles

    About the author

    Simon Sinclair
    Simon Sinclair

    Sports Writer

    Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.