Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Going into the season, the Falcons were my sleeper contender. They returned a strong offense from last season and still had most of the key personnel from their Super Bowl offense and their defense looked likely to be healthier after key players like Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen missed significant time with injury last season. The Falcons have gotten off to an uneven start, but they rank 6th in the NFL in first down rate differential through 2 games at +5.13%, despite playing a pair of playoff contenders. They lost in Minnesota week 1, but that was largely because they lost the turnover margin by 4 and turnover margins are inconsistent on a week to week basis. They lost the first down battle by just 1.61% in that game and then they won that battle by 8.29% in their home victory over the Eagles last week.
Now the Falcons get their easiest test so far, facing a Colts team that is middle of the pack at best when healthy and that is currently missing their best defensive player, linebacker Darius Leonard, because of a concussion. I have this line calculated at Atlanta -3, so we’re getting pretty significant line value with them at +1. This is also a tough spot for the Colts, in addition to Leonard being out, because the Colts are returning home after starting the season on the road in back-to-back games. Teams are just 28-52 ATS since 1989 in week 3 home openers. The Falcons have a good shot to pull the “upset” and could easily win convincingly.
Atlanta Falcons 27 Indianapolis Colts 23
Pick against the spread: Atlanta +1