Defending Super Bowl champions actually aren’t bad bets over recent seasons, with the last 10 going a collective 85-70-5 ATS. How might that NFL betting trend affect our free NFL picks on Sept. 6’s NFL season opener between the Super Bowl champion Eagles and the Falcons?

The Spread

Most Week 1 NFL betting odds opened Philly at -4.5 over Atlanta, with an over/under of 46.5. In early NFL betting action most books dropped the hook.


The Falcons went 10-6 last season (7-9 ATS) and reached the divisional round of the playoffs, before bowing out in a tough game to this same Philadelphia outfit. Atlanta squeaked over a regular-season wins over/under of 9.5 last year, and faces one of 9 for 2018.

The Eagles went 13-3 last season (10-6 ATS) and won their first-ever Lombardi Trophy. Philly also played over a wins total of 8, and now faces one of 10.5 for this season.

The Eagles lost MVP candidate QB Carson Wentz to injury late last season but went 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS) with back-up Nick Foles, knocking off Atlanta, Minnesota and New England in the post-season for the title. We’re assuming Wentz will be ready to start Week 1, but actually, for our pick on this game, it doesn’t matter.

By the Numbers

Atlanta ranked 8th in the NFL in total offense last year at 365 YPG, 13th in rushing at 115 YPG, 9th in total defense at 318 YPG and 9th against the run at 104 YPG. So they out-gained their opponents by 47 YPG and out-rushed foes by 11 YPG.

Philadelphia ranked 7th in total offense last year at 366 YPG, 3rd in rushing at 132 YPG, 4th in total defense at 307 YPG and No. 1 against the run at just 79 YPG. So they came out +59 in YPG and a hefty +53 in rushing per game, which ranked No. 1 in the league.

Recent History

These teams just met back in January in an NFC divisional-round playoff game, a 15-10 Eagles victory. Atlanta reached the Philly 2-yard line in the final moments but a 4th-down pass attempt failed.

The Eagles, who were actually 2-point home dogs that day, out-gained the Falcons 334-281.

The big play in that game came just before halftime when Atlanta DB Keanu Neal botched an easy interception near mid-field, leading to a long, momentum-turning Philly field goal at the first-half buzzer.

That game also played under a total of 40.

Totals Report

The unders went 11-5 in Falcons games last year, which averaged 42 total points.

The totals split 8-8 in Eagles games last year, which averaged 47 points.

Free NFL Pick

Defending Super Bowl champs are often over-rated on the betting lines and over-bet by the public. And despite their recent ATS success we’re still leery. Philly is a great team, and will probably win this game. But last year’s meeting could have gone either way. We’re taking the points here with the Falcons.


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Dizzy McGee

Dizzy McGee has been hooked on sports betting since the day he hit a 3-team NFL parlay at the age of 10. With 30 years of sports betting under his belt he now shares his betting insights and theories by writing about them at WagerTalk.

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