It’ll be a battle of the birds on Sunday Night Football as the Atlanta Falcons play host to the Philadelphia Eagles. Game time is at 8:20 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
Oddsmakers list the Eagles as a 1-point favorite on the road against the Falcons. The over/under for the game is set at 46 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 2 NFL odds.
After an injury-plagued 2018 seasons, the Falcons began 2019 with renewed hope, only to fall flat on their face in Week 1. Atlanta had no problem moving the ball, but three turnovers kept them off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter when they were already behind 28-0. Even if winning in Minnesota was always going to be a tough proposition, the Falcons have to be at least a little discouraged with their Week 1 performance.
To make matters worse, Atlanta’s schedule doesn’t exactly ease up moving forward. After hosting the Eagles in their home opener this week, the Falcons hit the road again for three of their next four games. Much like last season when the team started 1-4, the Falcons could find themselves playing catch up early in the season if they allow themselves to fall to 0-2.
The Eagles, meanwhile, will be satisfied with their Week 1 performance. Well, at least their performance in the second half of last week’s game. Philadelphia faced a surprising 20-7 halftime deficit against the Redskins. But they responded in the second half and were close to unstoppable offensively. Until a garbage-time score for Washington that kept the Eagles from covering, they had scored 25 unanswered points in the second half to seize control of the game.
If the Eagles can continue to play the way they did in the second half of last week’s game, they’re poised to get off to a great start. Admittedly, there are a couple of tough road games on tap. But Philadelphia doesn’t face a playoff team from last season until their seventh game, so things are set up in them to remain undefeated for a while if they can survive Sunday’s trip to Atlanta.
To be honest, I want to give the Falcons the benefit of the doubt in this game. They’re so talented on offense and a part of me believes they’ll bounce back at home this week. But Atlanta also has so many flaws, and the Eagles were awfully impressive last week, even if they only showed up for the final 30 minutes. With such a low spread, this is essentially a PK, so I have to side with the Eagles, who are clearly the better team.
One could view Philadelphia’s poor first half last week as a red flag. But I’m going to forgive it. Keep in mind that Carson Wentz didn’t play in the preseason and didn’t finish out the 2018 campaign healthy. Once he shook off some of the rust in the first half, he had the Philadelphia offense running like a well-oiled machine in the second half.
DeSean Jackson’s return to the Eagles had already paid off. He was the most productive player on the Philadelphia offense last week. He brings the kind of speedy deep threat that the Eagles may have been missing last year. I’m not saying he’s going to put up numbers like that every week, but defenses will have to account for his presence. If it’s not Jackson, it’s likely to be Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, or someone else who Wentz targets in the passing game.
On top of that, the Eagles have a wonderful three-player rotation at running back. Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles all have distinct skill sets. That allows the Eagles can divide playing time based on what they need from their running back and who has the hot hand. Perhaps more importantly, the Atlanta defense struggled to stop the run against the Vikings last week. Minnesota only threw the ball 10 times in that game and still ran the ball at will. That’s a huge concern this week for the Falcons against a balanced Philadelphia offense.
Meanwhile, I fear that Atlanta’s offensive line will continue to bring down Matt Ryan and a great collection of skill players. The Falcons were already relying on two rookies to solve their offensive line woes and now one of those rookies, Chris Lindstrom, is out with a broken foot. Despite Devonta Freeman being healthy, the Falcons had minimal success running the ball last week, which led to Ryan getting sacked four times and eat several other times. I think the Falcons could have similar problems this week against a talented Philadelphia defense that shut down the Washington running game in Week 1.
To be fair, you can never count out a team with Ryan and Julio Jones. Those two are always capable of doing something special. But the Falcons left us without a lot of questions and concerns after last week’s loss. I’m not sure playing at home will be enough to fix those problems and overcome an Eagles team that looked good last week. I think the Falcons will keep the game close, but with such a small spread, I like Philadelphia to cover.