Blind optimism is the best reason to believe in the 2021 Philadelphia Eagles, because if you open your eyes, you’ll see all the “if’s” that threaten to make this season a tough watch. If Nick Sirianni is as, you know, simplistic as he seems. If Jalen Hurts is really an elite backup quarterback stuck starting because Carson Wentz tapped out. If age has finally presented the bills to Fletcher Cox, to Jason Kelce, to Brandon Graham.
There’s a reason the Eagles are widely predicted to be the worst team in the NFC East, just behind the New York Giants but well and far behind both the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team. Just about everywhere you look, the Eagles’ regular season win total is projected to be either six or seven, which would be a marginal improvement over last season except for the fact that the Eagles are playing 17 regular season games this year. And it’s not going to start easily, either, with the Eagles traveling in Week 1 to Atlanta to play the Falcons.
Here’s your annual reminder that at least one @NFL team has gone “worst to first” in 16 of the last 18 seasons.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 8, 2021
Per our partners at Unibet PA, The Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles over/under in Week 1 is currently set at 48. The line is Eagles +3.5, and the money line has the Falcons as a -167 favorite while the Eagles are a +138 underdog.
The Falcons averaged 24.75 points per game last season and gave up 25.875 points per game. There was no real home field disparity, either, as the Falcons scored 26.125 points per game at home. Unfortunately, the Falcons did a terrible job apportioning their points all season, as they lost eight games by seven points or fewer. Two of those losses were by a single point each, and two more were by three points each. As such, their 4-12 record may have been a bit deceiving, which may explain why most books have the Falcons winning seven or eight games in 2021.
The Eagles have no such latent inconsistency; they gave up a lot of points in 2020 (over 26 per game) and averaged less than 21 per game offensively. The Eagles were 4-11-1 on merit, even considering their intentional loss to Washington in the last week of the season.
— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) September 8, 2021
The key to this pick is that the Eagles were anemic on the road last season, scoring fewer than 20 points per game away from the Linc in 2020. Perhaps not surprisingly, it got worse as the year wore on – in their last five road games, the Eagles scored 17 points or fewer four times. That metric doesn’t figure to be vastly improved on early in the season with a rookie head coach and a quarterback entering this season as the starter for the first time in his career. Throw in that the Eagles played six of eight games under the total before the Washington game at the end of the season (which can reasonably be discarded), and the trends all say “under.”
THE PICK: UNDER 48 (Falcons 27, Eagles 17).