Monday Night Mashup: Eagles @ Falcons & Vikings @ 49ers

Monday night football is back, here’s a rundown of the Eagles and Falcons game.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons,
TV: ESPN @ 7:10 p.m.; LINE: Falcons +3.5 O/U 56:

Sam Bradford finally can get things started in Philly. The fans have been clamoring about the hopes all offseason long and get a great chance at a good start against the Falcons in Atlanta. Atlanta hasn’t really had the hottest of defenses in recent years, this year seems to be no exception. The offense is usually there with a great air attack with Jones and White on the outside but the running game has been suspect. Two young backs are looking to change that, second year back Freeman and rookie Coleman look to complement each other and share reps in the backfield to give another dimension to an already potent offense. The masterful Chip Kelly will once again look to make some magic with his fourth starting quarterback in 3 years. He’s been able to squeeze out great season no matter the man behind center, but with an actual number one guy who is healthy and has tons of experience, the sky is the limit. It also helps to have the 3 headed back of Murray, Sproles and Matthews in the backfield. Young guns like Agholor, Matthews and Huff look to be the future of the air attack for Bradford. Chip also revamped the defense with Alonso and Maxwell, so look for that side of the ball to improve as well. This one will be a shoot out! My Pick: Eagles 38-28.

Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers,
TV: ESPN @ 10:20 p.m.; LINE: 49ers +3 O/U 43:

New coach, tons of missing starters on defense and offense from a year ago make this one hard to evaluate. You can’t really see a sense of a teams losses in the preseason since most of the first team doesn’t play with each other and if they do it’s only for about a series or quarter at most. There just isn’t always enough time to establish rhythm in a meaningless game. They do have some studs in the backfield who proved they can replace Gore but Kaepernick hasn’t proven he’s worth the big contract the 49ers gave him. On the other hand, the Vikings were without their franchise guy in Peterson for the last 15 games of last season. Good or bad thing? Has it slowed him down or rested him immensely? A talent like Peterson only gets better with rest and doesn’t rust up like the tin man. He’s out to prove himself to everyone that he still has it and that he stuck around Minnesota and didn’t jet to Dallas for a reason. Peterson’s absence also gave Bridgewater more reign over the offense and really shinned late in the season on his way to winning rookie of the year in the NFC. Peterson will garnish about 25-28 carries and if Kaep struggles look for the same if not a few more touches for Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush, which all in all will slow the pace and scoring of this game. In all, the loss of Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and Chris Borland will be too many losses to stop a rising offense in the Vikes. It’s always a bad sign when your defense from a year ago was ranked in the top 5 among the NFL to outside the top 12 in most preseason rankings in the next year, that’s no coincidence folks. Not to mention a lot of new pieces on the offensive side of the ball will more than likely contribute to more struggles for Kaep. Look forward to a new era of Vikings football in 2015 along with their new crib. My Pick: Vikings 21-17

Week 3: Thursday Night Divisional Mash up

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons,
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network. LINE: Falcons -6.5. O/U: 44.5

Atlanta, as I predicted, came out flat last week. Chalk one up for the Saints syndrome. Matt Ryan had gone from showing up big time in week one to disappearing behind his 3 picks last week. The Falcons had a hard time getting anything going in the first half with their longest drive being 40 yards and only getting a field goal from it. In the second half they went 3 and out, pick on first play of second drive in the 2nd half, 10 plays/59 yards/pick, 10 plays/77 yards/TD, 5 plays/6 yards/punt, 10 plays/22 yards/pick. The Buccs have kept their 2 losses to less than a TD difference. The problem is they lost by 6 to a Cam Newtonless Panthers and a Rams team without a true starting QB and their best pass rusher, lost by 2 at home. They are facing a fully loaded and ready to redeem themselves Falcons team. Josh McCown has completed at least 62% or more of his passes but has yet to have a 200 yard passing game. His TD/INT ratio is 2/3 so far through 2 weeks. He has yet to stretch the field beyond a 30 yard pass. That creates a lot of pressure in the box but they are 11th in the league with rushing yards. The star emerging is not Doug Martin, it’s Bobby Rainey who ran for 144 yards in last weeks game. Out of their 20 drives this year, only 7 have climbed above 50 yards and ended like this: 4 TD’s (their only TD’s on the season), 2 INT’s and 1 FG. They are 27th in the league averaging 17.5 first downs per game. The leading team are the Saints with 28. Their drives go like this: 11 drives of 21 over 50 yards ending with 2 FG’s, 7 TD’s, Punt, INT. Granted the Saints are 0-2 but have only lost by a field goal or less in those games. The Buccs need to sustain their long drives, eliminate those turnovers and they’ll result in more points and need to gain more first downs per game. The usual number you would like to see is 20 out of the 60-70 plays a team runs. The key for the Buccs may be for them to stray more towards the running and keeping McCown to shorter, more efficient passes to get those needed first downs. The Falcons are back at home where Ryan is 37-10 at home. He still has Roddy White and Julio Jones in the lineup so far which means bad things for the Buccs secondary. Look for the Falcons to win this one and taking the points -6.5 in the Over, the Falcons will put up points in bunches. Falcons 28-20.