After ending up on the wrong side of a historic Super Bowl collapse, there’s really only one big question (and a few smaller ones) surrounding Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons as they get set for the upcoming 2017 regular season. Can the once wildly popular ‘Dirty Birds’ get over their humbling Super Bowl debacle to contend again or will they suffer the dreaded Super Bowl ‘hangover’ that seems to plague almost every team that reaches the title tilt these days? Thanks to this killer NFL betting guide, you’re going to have a great idea of just what to expect out of the Falcons in 2017 as I highlight their must-bet games of the season.
Analysis: I know that, nearly six months after Super Bowl 51, that it’s still hard to figure out how the Falcons (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS) could lose a game they had well in hand, but Atlanta should still hit the 2017 regular season with some high hopes for several reasons. Here is a look at their 2016 stats, followed by the top six must-bet games on their 2017 schedule.
Touchdowns: Devonta Freeman 13
Rushing: Devonta Freeman 1079
Passing: Matt Ryan 4944
Receiving: Julio Jones 1409
Sacks: Vic Beasley 15.5
Interceptions: Deion Jones 3
Allowed: 25.4 / 27
Field Goal %: 85.2 / 18
(11-5) needed the Heimlich Maneuver in their Super Bowl 51 choke job of a collapse against New England, but I think the Falcons will still put plenty of points on the board in 2017, not to mention the fact that they’ve got a favorable schedule. I like the Falcons to record home victories against the Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, Vikings, Bills and Dolphins and road wins against the Lions, Bears, Jets and….wait for it….the New England Patriots, to finish at 10-6.
Falcons (-6) at Bears
Analysis: Even though they’ll be kicking off their 2017 campaign looking to distance themselves from their Super Bowl collapse, the Falcons shouldn’t have any problems covering the spread as near touchdown road favorites against a Chicago Bears team that has more problems than the fictional Bad News Bears. While Atlanta led the league in scoring a year ago, Chicago ranked an uninspiring 28th in scoring (17.4 ppg) while also ranking 24th in points allowed (24.9 ppg). If the Falcons don’t win their regular season opener by at least 10 points, I’ll be completely stunned.
NFL Pick: Atlanta 30 Chicago 21
Falcons (-1.5) at Lions
Analysis: I like Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, but I like Matt Ryan and the Falcons to get the road win in this contest against a Lions team that ranked a modest 20th in scoring last season (21.6 ppg) and 13th in points allowed (22.4 ppg). The Falcons went 6-2 SU on the road last season and have an explosive offense that Detroit will fall just short of keeping up with.
NFL Pick: Atlanta 31 Detroit 24
Bills at Falcons (-7.5)
Analysis: While I’m expecting the Buffalo Bills to be a lot better in 2017 under Sean McDermott than they were under former head coach Rex Ryan, the Falcons are the pick to get the home win in this Week 4 matchup against a Bills team that ranked a respectable 10th in scoring (24.9 ppg) and modest 16th in points allowed (23.6 ppg). While Atlanta went 6-2 at home a year ago, the Bills were just 3-5 SU and ATS on the road.
NFL Pick: Atlanta 28 Buffalo 20
Falcons (-7) at Jets
Analysis: If you didn’t know, Jets head coach Todd Bowles is one of the best defensive minds on the planet. Unfortunately, the 5-11 Jets still have issues on both, the offensive side of the ball after finishing 2016 ranked a dismal 28th in points allowed (25.6 ppg) and defensive side as well after finishing last season ranked a pitiful 30th in scoring (17.4 ppg). The Jets have no idea who their starting quarterback will be in 2017 which makes this Week 8 clash a virtual lock for the Falcons.
NFL Pick: Atlanta 34 NY Jets 21
Cowboys at Falcons (-1)
Analysis: While the Cowboys went a phenomenal 13-3 last season, Dallas was also ranked an uninspiring 26th against the pass and that just doesn’t bode well coming into this contest. While Dallas went 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS on the road a year ago, I like the Falcons to hold it down at home to get the big home win by exposing Dallas’ mediocre pass defense.
NFL Pick: Atlanta 31 Dallas 28
Vikings at Falcons (-5.5)
Analysis: While the Vikings had a phenomenal defense last season that ranked sixth in points allowed (19.2 ppg), Minnesota also had some serious struggles in trying to score the ball as they finished 23rd in scoring (20.4 ppg). More importantly, it looks as if the Vikes will be forced to turn to mediocre quarterback Sam Bradford again in 2017 and that in and of itself leads me to believe the Falcons will put just enough points on the board to beat the Vikings in this Week 13 matchup.
NFL Pick: Atlanta 27 Minnesota 21