The Washington Commanders (6-5 SU, 6-4-1 ATS) look to continue their march toward playoff contention with a third straight victory when they host the Atlanta Falcons (5-6, 7-4) on Sunday in NFL Week 12 action.

The Commanders romped to a 21-10 win in Houston last weekend to improve to 5-1 in their past six games and move to within a half-game of the final wild-card spot in the NFC. The Falcons are aiming to build on last week’s narrow 27-24 win over Chicago but have failed to tally consecutive wins while going 3-4 over their past seven games. 

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Falcons vs Commanders Betting Preview

Falcons vs Commanders Opening Odds

The Commanders have surged to 4.5-point favorites since opening as 3-point chalk, while the total has climbed slightly to 42 after opening at 41.5. Sunday’s matchup marks the second meeting between these teams in as many seasons, but the Falcons are making their first trip to the nation’s capital since 2018.

The Commanders rolled to a 34-30 win when they visited Atlanta last season, snapping a six-game SU losing streak in head-to-head action. However, it has been the Falcons who have generated consistent offense in recent clashes, averaging 29.9 points per game over their past seven dates with Washington, and giving the OVER a slight 5-3 edge in their past eight tilts.

Road teams have also fared well when these squads meet, earning the win in six of nine matchups and enjoying a steady 9-0 run against the spread.  

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Falcons Facing Road Woes

The Falcons snapped a two-game slide with a character victory over the Bears last week. Trailing by 10 points in the second quarter, the Falcons responded with 17 unanswered points, and sealed the win with an increasingly rare fourth-quarter rally after allowing Chicago to knot the score at 24-24 during the final frame. 

With the win, the Falcons remain just a half-game back of Tampa Bay in the race at the top of the NFC South standings. However, this squad has plenty of work to do to snap a three-game losing streak on the road, during which they have averaged just 15.7 points per game and have not scored any points in first-quarter action. 

Quarterback Marcus Mariota has remained productive on the road despite a lack of protection from his offensive line. Mariota has connected on seven total scoring passes in five road appearances, and has tossed just one pick during the team’s 0-3 road slide. However, he has also been sacked at least three times in each of his road outings and 13 total times over the past three away contests.

In addition, Cordarrelle Patterson has produced just 70 total rushing yards with one score and one fumble over the past two games. Patterson could see those woes worsen against a Commanders defense that has held opposing rushers to fewer than 60 yards in three of five outings.

Heinicke Sparking Commanders’ Resurgence

For the second time in as many outings, the Commanders stormed out of the gate last week, marching to a 20-0 halftime lead and an eventual 23-10 win over the Texans. That fast start comes on the heels of the team’s stunning 32-21 upset victory over the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10 when they erased an early Philly lead with 20 points before the break. That marks an impressive turnaround after the squad averaged just five points before the half in their eight previous contests.

The Commanders’ resurgence has coincided with Taylor Heinicke’s promotion to starting quarterback. Overlooked in favor of Carson Wentz, who joined the squad as a free agent during the offseason, Heinicke has risen to the occasion since Wentz was sidelined by a finger injury five weeks ago.  

While he has not tossed a scoring pass in two weeks, Heinicke has demonstrated calm and confidence while guiding a Commanders offense that averaged just 15.3 points per game in the six outings before he took over the reins.

In the absence of a prolific passing game, Washington rushers have stepped up, averaging 152.5 yards per game and scoring three times. The defense has also contributed scores in each of their past two wins. Not to be overlooked is kicker Joey Slye, whose seven field goals have been key to the team’s success over the past two weeks.

Falcons: Keys to Win

The Falcons must find a way to energize their offense and avoid falling behind early for the eighth time in 11 contests. That will require the offensive line to do a better job at providing Marcus Mariota with the time and space to spark the team’s aerial game, and increased production from the backfield, which has failed to score in two games. 

Commanders: Keys to Win

While Taylor Heinicke has drawn few complaints since taking over the Commanders offense, he could certainly help the cause by finding receivers in the end zone. However, he must overcome a Falcons pass defense that has surrendered just one TD pass and just 229 total passing yards over the past two games. Heinicke must also do a better job converting red-zone opportunities after being forced to settle for field goals over the past two weeks.

NFL Computer Pick: Falcons +4.5

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Shark Bites
  • Atlanta is 1-6 SU in its last 7 road games.
  • Washington is 5-0-1 ATS in its past 6 games
  • Washington is 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings at home.
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