Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baltimore Ravens vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -1
Thursday Night Football makes its 2010 debut this week and I think it's safe to say most football fans are happy about that.  We need our fix to make it through the week right?  If you might have noticed I have been high on ATL all year long and that continues this week against BAL.  Having said that I never just take them blindly.  I need to see a clear edge in the game and there are a few in this one.

On paper, both teams matchup pretty close.  ATL will have good opportunities to control the clock with the running game.  The vaunted BAL run defense is a thing of the past.   This isn't to say they are washed up because they are still a solid unit, but the only category they rank high in is red zone defense.  They are average on third down and against the run/pass.  BAL is also average in turnover differential and penalties.  Offensively they aren't great in any one area either.  In fact they are below average in several key categories.   They will be able to make some plays in the air vs ATL, but will it be enough to win the game?  The public think so with 64% on their side at the time I'm writing this.

I'm in the minority in this game for a few key reasons.  Matt Ryan has only lost one game in his career at home.  They consistently dominate time of possession and are among the league leaders in points from long-drives.  ATL rank near the top in turnover differential, penalties, and third down conversions.  They are also near the top in red zone defense and offense.   Home field advantage in a prime time game is also a big plus.  When you look at this team as a whole they are playing a well-rounded and disciplined game.  I expected ATL to open up at least field goal favorites - if not a bit more.  Prediction: Bank ATL -1.

Bonus Props:

Michael Turner 75.5 Rushing Yards: OVER
The BAL run defense is not what is once was.  ATL have a nice edge here and should run turner 20+ times.

Roddy White 85.5 Receiving Yards: UNDER
I'm a huge fan of White, but he is a little banged up with a knee and BAL's pass defense matchup ok with ATL here. 

Anquan Boldin vs Roddy White Receiving Yards: Boldin +12.5
BAL has a much better edge in the passing game than ATL in this one.   I'm a little surprised at these odds, but I'm not complaining.