2018 Atlanta Falcons Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
The 2017 Atlanta Falcons had to deal with the Super Bowl Loser's Curse. The 2018 Falcons must deal with the Super Bowl Host Curse. Yes, I'm writing about Atlanta's road schedule here, but I could get hit by a truck or simply run out of time before getting to the Falcons' 2018 home schedule before the season starts. So bear with me.
Of course, the Falcons reached the second Super Bowl in franchise history following the 2016 season and 100 percent should have beaten the New England Patriots but for arguably the greatest collapse in major team sports championship history. We all know that no Super Bowl losing team has gotten back to the big game the next season since those Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills lost four straight in the early 1990s.
Many Super Bowl losers since those Bills failed to make the playoffs at all, but Atlanta managed that last year with the NFC's second wild-card spot. They upset the Rams in Los Angeles and had four shots from inside the 10 to upset the Eagles in the Divisional Round at the end of the game in Philly but couldn't punch it in. I personally believe that if Atlanta wins that game, the Falcons go to Minnesota and upset the Vikings to earn a Super Bowl rematch with New England, but that's neither here nor there.
Go ahead and forget about the Falcons winning the franchise's first Super Bowl this year, too, because their Mercedes-Benz Stadium is hosting it. No team has ever played in a Super Bowl it hosted, although it does seem as if we might be getting closer. The Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl was in Houston, and the Texans got to the Divisional Round that postseason. Last year's Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl was in Minneapolis, and the Vikings reached the NFC title game. So maybe this is the year? At Bovada , the Falcons are +900 sixth-favorites to win the NFC title.
The Falcons were 5-3 on the road last season, 2-6 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." Atlanta travels to four playoff teams from 2017: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Carolina (but none of them back-to-back). There's no question the home schedule is easier. I project a 4-4 road record. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 6 at Eagles (-4.5, 46.5): The annual Thursday night NFL Kickoff Game, which as we know has been dominated by the reigning Super Bowl champions since it began -- but the Chiefs went to New England last September to kick things off and spanked New England. The Eagles lead this all-time series 19-14-1, including 3-1 in the playoffs. That Divisional Round game ended 15-10. The last time Atlanta won in Philly was Oct. 28, 2012. Key trend: Falcons 2-7-1 ATS in past 10 at Eagles including playoffs.
Oct. 7 at Steelers (-4): Good news is that the Falcons have just two road games in the first eight weeks, but the bad is they are likely to lose both of them and post-bye week the schedule gets road-heavy. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 13-2-1 and won the last one, 27-20, at the Georgia Dome in December 2014. The Falcons' last win against the Steelers was on Oct. 22, 2006. Key trend: Eagles 3-5 ATS at AFC North foes.
Nov. 4 at Redskins (+2.5): Atlanta out of its bye week, which comes about at the perfect time (Week 8). Washington leads the all-time series 14-9-1, but Atlanta won the last meeting, 25-19, in October 2015 at the Georgia Dome. Key trend: Falcons 6-4 ATS in past 10 out of bye (any location).
Nov. 11 at Browns (+3): I'm guessing Cleveland will have a win at this point in the season unlike the past two. Browns coach Hue Jackson was once an Atlanta offensive coordinator. Maybe he's fired by now, though. Cleveland leads the series 11-3 and won the last in 2014, 26-24. Key trend: Falcons 4-6 ATS in past 10 as a road favorite of at least 3 points.
Nov. 22 at Saints (-3.5): Thanksgiving night, and the Falcons' only other non-1 p.m. ET road tilt scheduled. Atlanta lost in the Superdome on Christmas Eve last year, 23-13, to put its playoff hopes in jeopardy. Matt Ryan was sacked five times, and the Falcons were stopped twice inside the New Orleans 2-yard-line. Key trend: Falcons 5-5 ATS in past 10 as at least 3-point road dog in series.
Dec. 9 at Packers (-3.5): Yep, I'm sure the Falcons were hoping this visit to Lambeau was in September. This looks to be their only sure-fire wintry weather game, although you never know what Cleveland will be like in mid-November. Should be the two highest-paid players in the NFL here in Ryan, who currently is, and Aaron Rodgers, who likely takes that spot by the time the season begins. The Falcons beat the visiting Packers 34-23 in Week 2 last year. Devonta Freeman ran for two scores. Key trend: Falcons 7-0 ATS in Green Bay during regular season (that surprised me!).
Dec. 23 at Panthers (-1.5): Atlanta leads the series 28-18, and the home team won in both games last season. The Falcons lost in Charlotte in Week 9, 20-17, blowing an early 10-point lead. Atlanta was gashed for 201 yards rushing. Ryan threw for 313 and two scores with a pick. Key trend: Falcons 4-6 ATS in past 10 as a dog at Carolina.
Dec. 30 at Bucs (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. If the Falcons had to close on the road, Tampa would be the ideal place because the Bucs likely will have nothing to play for here (again). Atlanta leads the series 25-24 and won in Tampa, 24-21, on a Monday in Week 15 last season. Freeman rushed for 126 and a touchdown while catching five passes for 68. Key trend: Falcons 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at Tampa.
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