NFL · Sun (9/12) @ 1:00pm ET
|Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia|
It will be the dawn of a new era for the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons when the 2021 season kicks off. While neither is undergoing a full-on rebuild, both are trying to reload.
The Falcons hope former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith can revive Matt Ryan’s career without the help of Julio Jones. In Philadelphia, fans hope former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni can get Jalen Hurts up to speed sooner rather than later.
Both teams have undergone a fair amount of change in the offseason. The winner of their Week One matchup will likely be the team that handles the changes the best.
Not long ago, the Eagles appeared to have their future franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. But after a disastrous season last year, Philadelphia shipped him off to Indianapolis and appear set to turn the offense over to Jalen Hurts.
Sirianni does not have a resume that speaks to his ability to develop young quarterbacks, but that does not mean he is incapable of doing so. Philly’s decent offense line (13th according to PFF) may not help matters much, but they will not hold the team back, either.
As for the skill positions, rookie DeVonta Smith is the only receiver defensive coordinators may need to game plan for. The rest of the group is not bad, but it is not impressive either. As for their running backs, as a group, they are promising. But no one stands out on an individual basis.
On the defensive side of the ball, there was a strong need for a talent infusion after a lackluster 2020 season. But it did not happen. They did steal Anthony Harris from the Vikings and an aging Ryan Kerrigan from Washington—but not much else.
They added a few rookies in the draft, but no one stands out as an early impact player.
If his offensive line can give him time, Ryan should be able to decimate defenses with the weapons at his disposal.
Rookie Kyle Pitts comes with some extremely high expectations. While the Falcons said goodbye to Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley appears ready to be the new No. 1 option in the passing game.
But the lack of a run game and a questionable offensive line might hold the offense back—not as much as the defense, though. A unit that gave up close to 400 yards and 26 points a game last season needed a lot of work in the offseason, and it did not get it.
Duron Harmon is a nice addition at one of the safety positions, but otherwise, the team will have to count on rookies stepping up to fill the talent void.
Sports Betting Recommendation
With neither team looking too impressive, it is hard to get behind either. But Matt Ryan does give the Falcons the edge. That is probably why close to 60 percent of the bets and handle are on the Falcons.
Unless Jalen Hurts blows the world away during the preseason, it looks like the Falcons against the spread are a good bet.