NFL Week #1 Picks: Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons

Last season’s Monday Night Football schedule left a lot to be desired in terms of quality match-ups and excitement, but the 2015-16 schedule should start off with some fireworks as the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Atlanta Falcons.

Date: Monday, September 14th 2015
Start Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Broadcast Info: ESPN

If you bought an Eagles jersey about three-to-four years ago, hopefully it was a Randall Cunningham or Ron Jaworski throwback, because if it wasn’t, there’s a very good chance that player is no longer wearing midnight green. After failing to reach the playoffs despite a solid 10-6 record, Chip Kelly will be leading a brand new Eagles roster to Atlanta to face a Falcons team under first-year head coach Dan Quinn.

The Eagles went 9-7 against-the-spread last season, with 10 games going over the total. Atlanta was uncharacteristically bad at home last season, going 3-5 in the Georgia Dome (4-4 ATS), with one of those three victories coming in overtime. This game opened with the Eagles -1, but most books have moved it to a pick. It will be interesting to see where the line heads on game day after money is collected (or lost) after the Sunday slate.

Who to Watch: For the Eagles….Everyone. There’s a new quarterback (Sam Bradford), two new running backs (DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews), two new wide receivers (Nelson Agholor and Miles Austin), a new middle linebacker (Kiko Alonso), two new offensive linemen and a completely over-hauled secondary featuring Byron Maxwell. Atlanta will be introducing its first round draft pick, pass rusher Vic Beasley, who many think will be the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

What’s the Key: The Eagles will likely be the team that gives Vegas fits all season. Because of Chip Kelly and their style of play, the Eagles will likely receive heavy public money just about every week, regardless of the line or the opponent. Philadelphia is projected to replace 10+ starters from a team that went 10-6 a year ago. How do you accurately project a team that you’ve never seen play before? Both oddsmakers and bettors will be asking that question heading into Week 1. The Falcons need to find a true identity on both sides of that ball. Who were the “real” Falcons in 2014-15: The ones that crushed the Saints 30-14 in New Orleans in a playoff elimination game in Week 16? Or the ones that lost 34-3 to Carolina at home the following week with the division title on the line? Coach Quinn should be able to instill a strong defensive foundation, but it remains to be seen how well the offense clicks under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Where We’re Leaning: Think fast…Which team held the Eagles to their fewest point total last season? The only defense to hold the Eagles under 20 points last season was the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, coached by Dan Quinn. Quinn’s defense didn’t just defeat the Eagles, they humiliated them, holding Philadelphia to 139 total yards and nine first downs (in Philadelphia, by the way). Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor didn’t follow Quinn to Atlanta, but when planning against Kelly’s offense, scheme and gameplan mean just as much as personnel. Quinn had the perfect scheme and gameplan last season, and he’s capable of doing it again nine months later. Look for the Atlanta Falcons to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in this Week 1 NFL free pick, courtesy of WagerTalk.

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