And there ya have it. After a summer filled with controversy over rule changes, free agent holdouts, and a Nike ad, professional football is finally back. Despite beating the market with my Atlanta +3.5 ticket, I went to bed Thursday attempting to make sense of the action. As we turn our attention to Sunday’s slate, here are the 4 things bettors learned from TNF:
1) Atlanta’s Red Zone woes are anything but fixed.
Atlanta struggled in the Red Zone all of 2017 under new OC Steve Sarkisian. On Thursday, the Falcons were 1-for-5 inside the 20, coming away with just 1 TD and a FG when the dust settled. Matt Bryant also missed a PAT. Until we see otherwise, bettors need to balance Atlanta’s ability to move the ball (out-gained Philly 299 to 232) and their inability to convert for 7. My takeaway is Atlanta’s abysmal performance inside the Red Zone is a new normal until I see otherwise.
2) Nick Foles was bad, but Philly’s D-Line was great.
So bad that the Boo Birds came out in the City of Brotherly Love. Remarkable, really, for a home crowd to boo off their recently-enshrined Super Bowl MVP after one bad half. Foles finished the game with 3.4 Yards Per Pass and didn’t throw a TD, but his defense — which sacked Matt Ryan 4 times and picked him off once — was dominate enough to secure a victory. For the time being, I’m looking to bet Under in any game Philly is involved in. An anemic offense and veracious D-Line is one hell of a start if you’re going to stay under the total.
3) Might penalties become a key handicapping factor?
The bottom 5 teams in Net Penalty Yards went 44-38-1 ATS in 2017, with only Seattle (6-9-1) posting a losing record against the spread. It didn’t seem to matter much in terms of profitability last year, but with new rules affecting pass-rushers and DBs, it’s hard to imagine it having no impact at all as teams look to adjust. I can’t help but think disciplined teams such as Minnesota and New England will benefit when it comes to beating the Market’s expectations.
4) Philadelphia has a chance to be dominant.
If I told you before the game Nick Foles would throw for 117 yards on 34 attempts and post a QBR below 30, you’d probably bet half your bankroll on the Falcons. This was exactly the performance I forecasted on Wager Vision (live Wednesday’s 11pm ET and available on ITunes immediately after), but unfortunately I did not foresee such an abysmal Red Zone performance by Atlanta. We’re only a game in, so expectations ought to be tempered, but this is an Eagles teamed to be feared as Carson Wentz looks to make his return. Might Philadelphia at PK week 8 in Jacksonville make some sense?