Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons Prediction, Pick and Preview, September 12 (9/12/2021): NFL Week 1

Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons Prediction, Pick and Preview, September 12 (9/12/2021): NFL Week 1

Credit: photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Time 1:00 p.m. EST
Eagles money line +150
Eagles spread +3.5
Falcons money line -180
Falcons spread -3.5
Over / under 48.5


2020 season stats
  Eagles Falcons
Record 4-11-1 4-12
Road / home record 1-7 2-6
Points per game 20.8 24.8
Points allowed per game 26.0 25.9
Pass yard per game 208 273
Rush yards per game 127 96
Total yards per game 356 385
Total yards allowed per game 383 412
Turnover ratio -10 +3



Two teams who finished near the bottom in 2020 play in Week 1.  Jalen Hurts takes over from Carson Wentz at QB for the Eagles, and rookie head coach Nick Sirianni replaces Doug Pedersen at head coach.  Matt Ryan and the last-place 2020 NFC South finishers hope to rebound after a poor season with a defense ranked in the bottom 5.  New head coach Arthur Smith comes in with new defensive coordinator Dean Prees.

Offensive matchup

Jalen Hurts starts at QB for the Eagles, with Carson Wentz traded to Indianapolis.  Hurts started the Eagles' last four games in 2020, going 1-3 and beating the Saints.  He managed to keep it close against the Cardinals and Washington, but got blown out by the Cowboys.  His WR targets are young, with DeVonta Smith from the 2021 class and Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor the 2020 class.  RBs are expected to play a big part in a run-pass option scheme.  Miles Sanders is in the backfield along with Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell.  The Eagles have arguably the best tight end pairing with veteran Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and they also have a veteran offensive line that should give Hurts and the offense time to work.

The 36-year old Matt Ryan continues to lead the Falcons at quaterback.  The Falcons averaged 273 net passing yards per game in 2020.  With Julio Jones traded to the Titans, his wide receiver targets are Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus, with rookie Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst at tight end.  After Todd Gurley failed to return from free agency, Mike Davis is in the backfield, and Cordarrelle Patterson provides another WR option and an explosive option for short passes with yards after the catch.  Davis carried 165 times for 642 yards for the Panthers last season, with Christian McCaffrey on the sideline with injury issues.  He also caught 59 passes for 373 yards.

Defensive matchup

The Eagle's defensive line is their strength, with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham leading the line and new signing Ryan Kerrigan joining from Washington.  They were third best in the NFL in 2020, with 3.1 sacks per game, while the Falcons only had 1.8 per game.

New head coach Arthur Smith and new defensive coordinator, the former Titans defensive coordinator, Dean Pees worked together in Tennessee.  Will that lead to a better overall defense after last year's debacle?  The Falcons had a bottom five defense in 2020, but showed up in preseason.  Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones lead the defensive line.


Hurts only completed ~50% of his passes in 2020, and now has to deal with an extremely young receiving crew.  The Eagles' defensive line is impressive, and expect them to get after Matt Ryan.  Ryan and the Falcons have lost Julio Jones, but still have strong receivers in Ridley, Gage and Patterson, and Mike Davis was impressive in Carolina last year.  With too many newcomers in Philadelphia, we see the veteran Ryan taking advantage of the youth.  They only have 7 home games this season, but expect them to take advantage of the Eagles in this first game.

PICK: Falcons -3.5 (-110)

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