Another winning Sunday last week as I recommended the one-victory Lions getting 3 points at home against the unbeaten Eagles, and Detroit won 24-23 -- sadly, going one point over the total. Let's keep up the Sunday success this week with the marquee game on the schedule (sorry Cowboys-Packers) as Atlanta visits Seattle in the only matchup of division leaders in Week 6.
And even though we aren't even halfway through the regular season, it's never too early to point out a game that could have potentially huge playoff tiebreaker implications. This one definitely might and could be the difference between getting a bye or hosting a wild-card round game.
With Arizona struggling, Seattle (3-1) should roll to the NFC West title and is a -175 favorite at BetOnline to do so. The Seahawks visit the Cardinals next Sunday night. The NFC South is pretty sorry thus far with Carolina the NFL's biggest disappointment at 1-4. The Falcons (4-1) already are two games clear of second-place Tampa Bay and are -300 favorites to win the division. Of course, only the top two division winners in each conference get first-round byes in the playoffs, so the winner here could have an important tiebreaker. Atlanta's schedule looks much easier the rest of the way than Seattle's does. And if you are wondering, the Falcons don't play the current NFC North (Vikings) or NFC East (Cowboys) leaders. Neither does Seattle, but the Seahawks have mega-tough road games in New England and Green Bay.
Falcons at Seahawks Betting Story Lines
Atlanta caught a break last week in visiting Denver in that Broncos starting quarterback Trevor Siemian was out. That played a big role in the Falcons winning 23-16 despite scoring their fewest points of the season. Matt Ryan followed his 503-yard, four-TD game vs. Carolina with 267 yards and a TD. The Broncos made it a point to take away Julio Jones and he was held to two catches for 29 yards. But Atlanta's terrific 1-2 punch at running back was again the difference. Devonta Freeman rushed for 88 yards and a TD and caught three passes for 35 yards, while Tevin Coleman caught four passes for 132 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 31 yards.
I'm not sold on the Falcons yet despite having the NFL's top offense and Ryan leading the league in passing yards and rating -- the latest NFL odds on MVP that I've seen have him as the co-favorite with Ben Roethlisberger. Remember that Ryan played really well early last season as his team started 5-0 but then things fell off a cliff. Plus, that Falcons defense is still pretty shaky in allowing 28 points per game. But the emergence of Coleman had really changed the look of the offense.
This game will certainly carry a bit more importance for Falcons head coach Dan Quinn as he was formerly Pete Carroll's defensive coordinator in Seattle. I think Quinn made a smart move this week as instead of his Falcons flying home from Denver, they are working out at the University of Washington.
The Seahawks are off their bye, which is definitely way earlier than any team would prefer. But Seattle needed it with so many guys banged up, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, who has been dealing with ankle and knee problems. Wilson is feeling better, but top running back Thomas Rawls remains out the rest of the month as he recovers from a crack in his fibula.
This will be easily the biggest test of the early season for Seattle's No. 1 total defense (264.0), No. 1 third-down defense (30.4 percent conversions) and No. 3 scoring defense (13.5 ppg). Seattle has allowed 302 yards on throws of 15 or more yards this season, fourth-fewest in the NFL. Ryan has 344 yards on passes that distance in just the past two weeks. That Seattle unit is good, no doubt, but consider the Seahawks have played four mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks in Miami's Ryan Tannehill, Los Angeles' Case Keenum, San Francisco's Blaine Gabbert and the Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick. None of those guys might be starting by December; Gabbert was replaced this week.
Falcons at Seahawks Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Seattle is a 6-point favorite (-110) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Seahawks are -255 and the Falcons -215. On the alternate lines, the Seahawks are -6.5 (-105) and -5.5 (-118). Atlanta is 4-1 against the spread (3-0 on the road) and 4-1 "over/under" (2-1 on road). Seattle is 2-2 ATS (1-1 at home) and 2-2 O/U (1-1 at home).
The Falcons are 4-1 in their past five road games vs. teams with a winning home record. They are 3-9 in their past 12 vs. the NFC. The Seahawks are 3-7-1 ATS in their past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. They are 1-5 ATS in their past six after a win. The under is 12-4-1 in Atlanta's past 17 road games. It's 6-2 in Seattle's past eight after win.
Falcons at Seahawks Betting Prediction
These teams haven't met since the 2013 season when Atlanta's four-game winning streak in the series ended in a 33-10 home loss. Wilson threw for 287 yards and two TDs. Ryan had only 172 yards passing.
Here's hoping that Richard Sherman and Jones are lined up opposite each other all game. Great matchup. The Broncos showed that you can eliminate the gifted Jones. But then if anyone would know how to attack the Seattle defense, it should be Quinn. I'm giving the 6 points here as I generally love teams off the bye week. Go under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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