Falcons Could Offer Bettors Value
Is there value in taking the underdog Atlanta Falcons in their NFL Wild Card playoff game with the L.A. Rams on Saturday night? Let's dive into the matchup.
The Rams opened as 4.5-point home favorites for their Wild Card playoff matchup with the Falcons on Saturday night but the line didn't stay there for very long. According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, Los Angeles is now a 6.5-point favorite to beat Atlanta. The total has also moved off the original number, dropping from an opening number of 49.5 down to 48.5 at most sports books.
On paper, there's a lot to like about the Falcons. For starters, there has been a lot made about Atlanta's struggles this season. Pundits and football fans started buying into the "Super Bowl hangover" narrative back in preseason and any time the Falcons lost a game that season people would dust that argument off.
That said, it's not as if Dan Quinn's team floundered this season and backed into the playoffs. They didn't secure a playoff berth until beating the Panthers in Week 17 but that's only because they played the toughest schedule in football this year. Twelve of the 16 games they played this season were against teams that either made the playoffs this season or made the postseason a year ago. Four games were played against Carolina and New Orleans, respectively, and both of those teams made the playoffs this year. At 10-6, the Falcons didn't have the horrendous season that some would have you believe.
Getting back to Saturday's matchup, the Falcons will have opportunities to move the ball offensively. They face a Rams defense that ranks 30th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 4.6. Furthermore, Atlanta could have a decided edge in the passing game too, as Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu will face a banged-up L.A. secondary that will be without starter Kayvon Webster and could be without new starter Troy Hill (questionable).
Granted, if the Falcons don't slow down Todd Gurley it won't matter what advantages they have offensively. Gurley has emerged as a MVP candidate this year and he is the straw that stirs the drink for the Rams offense. Plus, defensively, L.A. still has Aaron Donald, who can wreck game plans on his own.
Still, at +6.5, the defending NFC champion Falcons offer bettors plenty of value at that current line. If the spread jumps to a touchdown, it would be hard to pass up on a dangerous Atlanta team as a sizable underdog. (Right now bettors are still backing the Rams.)