When Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury in Week 15, the Philadelphia Eagles knew the road to the Super Bowl wouldn’t be easy. But ahead of their divisional round matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, the Eagles are in uncharted gambling territory.
As strange as it sounds, MyBookie opened the top-seeded Eagles as 2.5-point home underdogs with a total of 41. According to our database, that makes Philadelphia the first No. 1 seed in NFL history to be an underdog in the divisional round. Since 1975, only six previous home teams have been underdogs in the round, but all of them occupied the second seed. The last time it happened was in 2013 when the wild-card San Francisco 49ers were favored by a point over the Carolina Panthers.
The biggest reason for this is obviously Philly’s situation under center, as Nick Foles hasn’t commanded much respect from oddsmakers. Foles is far from the worst backup quarterback in the league but he is prone to ugly games, which we saw in the Eagles’ Week 16 19-10 triumph over the Oakland Raiders. If Philadelphia is going to win this game, Foles must avoid turning the ball over and the Eagles’ fourth-ranked defense in the NFL will need to step up and slow down the Falcons’ high-octane offense.
That’s easier said than done, though. Atlanta is rolling into the divisional round in the wake of a big 26-13 road win over the Los Angeles Rams. Julio Jones could create headaches for the Eagles secondary, as the wideout hauled in nine of 10 targets from quarterback Matt Ryan vs the Rams. In seven playoff games together, the duo have connected on 80 percent of their passes – the best mark of any QB-WR pair with 20-plus attempts in the playoffs since 2011.
The good news for Philadelphia is they’re 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS at home this season, with the lone straight-up setback coming in the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys in which they rested the majority of their starters. The Falcons have traditionally been a terrible play when travelling to Pennsylvania, evidenced by Atlanta going 1-7 SU and 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight trips to Lincoln Financial Field.
As far as the total goes, recent trends are favoring the UNDER in this one. In the last 12 meetings between the Falcons and Eagles, the UNDER is 9-3. Philly also has a habit of going below totals in the postseason, as the UNDER has paid out in 10 of its last 13 playoff games. The Falcons have been an UNDER boon lately, as each of their last six games has gone below the total.
Doug Pederson will have no shortage of bulletin board material for his club due to the underdog label, and the Falcons appear to be on a collision course to make up for last year’s embarrassing second-half Super Bowl collapse to the New England Patriots. In a weekend loaded with enticing matchups, this tilt has the makings of an instant classic.
Opening Odds & Computer Pick
The Atlanta Falcons opened as 2.5-point favorites in this one at most sportsbooks tracked here at OddsShark (including BetOnline), while the total was hovering around 44 at most shops.
OddsShark prediction models picked the Eagles to win this game on Saturday 22-21. Check the picks page or matchup report during the week as factors may cause that prediction to be re-run. View the computer score prediction and who will win the pick on the moneyline for all upcoming NFL matchups here.
Team Betting Records & Power Rankings
The Atlanta Falcons will look to cover ATS vs their hosts on Saturday, as they are 8-9 versus the spread this season, while the Philadelphia Eagles are 10-6 ATS. Atlanta is 5-12 against the OVER/UNDER total, while Philadelphia is 8-8 versus the number. Stay Informed: follow us on Twitter for odds specials, betting line moves and Philadelphia vs Atlanta injuries news.
It's a betting matchup between the No. 4-rated Eagles and the No. 10-ranked Falcons, according to the NFL Power Rankings here at OddsShark.
Offensively, the game matches up the Philadelphia Eagles' No. 3-ranked offense (28.56 PPG) against a Atlanta Falcons defense that ranks No. 8 at 19.29 PPG. The Eagles passing attack has averaged 233.56 yards per game, more than the Falcons give up through the air (216.18 YPG on average).
In comparing defenses, the Falcons own the league's No. 14-rated front 7 in terms of stopping the run, allowing 113.67 yards per game when on the road. Philadelphia, on the other hand, rates No. 7 this week in generating rushing yards at home.
Recent Outings Betting Recap
In their last game, the Falcons were wild-card playoff winners, coming out on top of the Rams by a score of 26-13.
The Eagles were shut out in their last start, struggling to get much going against Dallas's defence and losing 6-0 to the Cowboys in their regular-season finale at Lincoln Financial Field.