Atlanta Falcons (1-3) at Houston Texans (2-2)
The Falcons are just 1-3, but they should be better than that going forward. They have tied for the second worst turnover margin in the NFL at -5, but turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Matt Ryan, who has a career 2.18% interception rate on 6,377 attempts, is unlikely to continue throwing interceptions at a 3.41% rate going forward and the Falcons should recover more than 22.22% of available fumbles going forward as well. Their defense is a serious concern, ranking 29th in first down rate allowed at 40.57%, but their offense has moved the ball effectively, ranking 5th in first down rate at 40.47%, even with left tackle Jake Matthews getting off to a slow start to the season.
The Texans are a solid team, but I have these teams about even in my roster rankings, suggesting the Texans should only be favored by 3. This line is Houston -4, which might not seem like a big difference, but about 1 in 6 games are decided exactly a field goal and about 1 in 4 games are decided by 4 points or fewer. Even if the Falcons can’t pull off the upset, we’re getting a good cushion at +4.
The Falcons are also in a much better spot. While the Texans have to worry about going to Kansas City next week, the Falcons only have a trip to Arizona on deck. Underdogs are 101-57 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. At 1-3, the Falcons should be fully focused to try to save their season, while the Texans could be looking ahead to a much bigger conference game. The Falcons could easily pull the upset and have a great chance to cover.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Houston Texans 23 Upset Pick +170
Pick against the spread: Atlanta +4