Is Saturday’s NFL Divisional Round matchup between the Falcons and Eagles a trap game for bettors?
The Odds: Falcons at Eagles, 4:35 p.m. ET, Saturday
According to oddsmakers, the Eagles are 3-point home underdogs against the Falcons. This is the first time in NFL history that a No. 1 seed was a home dog versus a six-seed in the Divisional Round. As for the total, the number hit the board at 44.5 before it was driven down to the current number of 40.5.
After beating the Rams in the Wild Card round, the Falcons are now 11-6 overall and 6-3 on the road. They improved their ATS record but are still just 8-9 against the spread on the year. They’re 3-6 ATS on the road.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, finished the regular season with a 13-3 record to earn the No. 1 seed. The Eagles were also 7-1 at home during the regular season and 5-3 against the spread at home. Overall, they were 10-6 at the betting window in 2017.
Atlanta Falcons Injury Report
Julio Jones (ankle), Devonta Freeman (knee) and Mohamed Sanu (knee) will all play despite practicing on a limited basis this week. That said, Atlanta will once again be without guard Andy Levitre, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a torn triceps.
Philadelphia Eagles Injury Report
Carson Wentz (knee) was lost for the season in early December so Nick Foles will draw another start for the Eagles. Left tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks and running back Darren Sproles were all lost for the season as well. Good news for Philly: Pass-rusher Brandon Graham (ankle) is probable.
Matt Ryan put together a MVP season a year ago with the help of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. That said, Ryan’s worst game came against this very Eagles team in Philly. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz blitzed Ryan relentlessly throughout the game but he won’t have to do that today because his front four creates enough pressure on its own. The Eagles own one of the nastiest defenses in the NFL this season and opposing teams can’t run on Philly’s front. This will be a challenge for Ryan and Co. today.
That said, the Eagles’ weakness is obvious: Nick Foles. Granted, he does have one playoff start under his belt and when he plays a lot, he resembles a league-average quarterback. That said, he hasn’t played this season. He made a nice relief appearance for Foles in a win over the Rams, tore up a horrible Giants secondary the following week, then was a disaster against the Raiders on Christmas night.
Teams can with their quarterbacks simply “managing” games but it’s difficult. Making matters tricky for the Eagles is the fact that this Falcons defense is playing the best football of the season, holding their last six opponents to under 17 points on average. Five of those games came against playoff opponents too, so it’s not as if Atlanta was playing blood donors.
This game definitely has “trap” written on it for Atlanta backers but I’m going to fade Foles.
NFL Divisional Round Playoff Predictions: Atlanta Falcons -3