The NFL is finally back tonight! The season is starting with the Eagles unveiling their Super Bowl banner and taking on the Atlanta Falcons. They are currently are 1 point underdogs at some sports books. This is down from being at least 3 point favorites. It seems that the public is heavy on the Falcons as the Eagles come into this game with Alshon Jeffrey and Carson Wentz injured along with Nick Foles struggling in the pre-season.
The Falcons come into this game two years off of being in the Super Bowl. Last year they were a team that many thought under performed. It seemed as if they had never given their full effort for a full game. They had lost the sense of urgency after being so close to winning the Super Bowl in the previous season. They lost a very close game to the Eagles in the playoffs last year. The game ultimately came down to a goal line stand. This offseason the Falcons have made an emphasis on playing well in the red-zone where they did not last year. They come into this year with former MVP QB Matt Ryan leading an offense with Pro-bowlers RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones. Their defense has been mediocre in years past. They have speed and athleticism at some positions but as a unit they are below average at best.
After beating the Falcons in the playoffs last year, the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl. Their whole team caught fire in the NFC Championship game in Philadelphia. The defense started the scoring with an interception for a touchdown. Once that happened the whole stadium erupted and was extremely loud for the rest of the game. The Eagles come into this game with last year’s super bowl MVP Nick Foles as the starting QB. He is filling in for the injured Carson Wentz. Also injured on the offense and missing the game will be WR Alshon Jeffrey. The Eagles defense is built around their depth at defensive line. They have a lot of people who can rush the passer very well and their depth keeps them fresh all game long. They added Pro-Bowler Michael Bennett to that unit as well. Their secondary is anchored by Malcolm Jenkins who is also one of their team leaders. The defense plays very well as a cohesive unit.
Tonight I am leaning towards the Eagles. Despite Nick Foles pre-season struggles and the injuries to Alshon Jefrey and Carson Wentz I believe they will prevail. One thing that can not be measured in numbers is ring night or banner night swag. Typically when a team is opening their season by unveiling their championship from last year it seems to energize the team and the arena. Throughout these processes the road team is forced to sit idly for an extended period of time while the other team is congratulated and celebrated. These pre-game celebrations are not normal (as they only happen for one team per year) but they seem to help the camaraderie and overall energy of the home teams while doing the opposite for the opposing team. To go along with that I also like the Eagles running game and offensive line. Although Nick Foles was MVP of the Super Bowl, the Eagles passing game works through their running game. Their receivers are not all the best but they can do well when a team cannot commit to stopping the pass. Zach Ertz is one of the best receiving TEs in football and should be a big part of their passing game. The Eagles running game keeping Atlanta’s defense off balance and the Eagles relentless defensive pass rush will be the keys for the Eagles to win this game outright. The energy of the banner unveiling will also help the team get off to a great start. I love that the line moved. The Eagles were a team that thrived last post season being the underdogs of every game. Them being underdogs again adds to their mantra that they are getting no respect. I am taking the Eagles +1 and first half. I expect them to win outright.
Philadelphia Eagles +1 (-105)
Philadelphia Eagles 1H Pk (EVEN)