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 5: Thursday Night Divisional Matchup

Well they say all good things must come to an end. My fantastic 2 week run at handicapping was amazing and I enjoyed sharing that with you but it crashed and burned starting with last Thursday’s Redskins terrible loss. I did however, tell you that the bad streak was over and another good streak will start with Monday Nights game and I didn’t lie. It was known going into the game that the Pats offensive line was going to have trouble and that was an understatement. Brady was held for the 3rd straight game to less than 250 yards and was hit a lot! I hope you’re still believing in me because I still hold an astounding 61% winners against the spread. The over/under predictions, not so much. Now, on to the Week 5 Thursday game…

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers,
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network. LINE: Packers -8. O/U: 48:

Last week Aaron Rodgers told Packer fans to R-E-L-A-X and he delivered a great outcome for them. The Packers offense was on point, wasting only 1 drive (Missed FG) in all of their 7 drives total. That is amazing in itself. 3 drives were over 60 yards which is average but they also capitalized on their turnovers. They had 2 interceptions against Cutler and returned them at least 40 yards into Bears territory and walked away with 2 TD’s. However, the defense showed that they still have major holes to cover up. The defense let up 33 first downs and almost 500 yards! The rushing game alone allowed 235 yards. If you take the 2 turnovers away and the resulting scores, this game is a TD difference. But it’s hard to deny a pass game as on point as the Packers. Rodgers was 22/28 (78%) for 302 yards and 4 TD’s. Weather may play a part in this game so look for the dismal running game to get more looks. Lacy hasn’t been great, only averaging 3 yards per carry but has only touched the ball an average of 13 times per game, which is very low for a starting RB.

As for the Vikings, early indications for tonight’s game is that Teddy Bridgewater will not play since they will need to rely on him for the rest of the year, they want his ankle to heal properly. But wow, did they pull out a stunner against the Falcons. The Vikes held the Falcons on 7 of their 11 drives to nothing. They still allowed 5 drives over 40 yards (4 being TD’s) but didn’t allow them to get back into by continuing to score on offense. They scored on 7 of their 11 drives, 4 TD’s but managed to get and stay within FG range to rack up some more points. That says more to the fact that the Falcons didn’t know how to stop Teddy. That usually is a case in sports with new/rookie players, there just isn’t enough game film on them to study tendencies and such. That and the Falcons really are like the Saints, terrible on the road. Either way, their defense hasn’t been great in recent years and could be the reason for not making long playoff runs. The Falcons defense allowed 7 of 11 drives to go over 40 yards with an average drive of 49 yards. Conclusion: Teddy Bridgewater could be the real deal! This week, with Ponder starting, they will go right back to mediocrity. They won’t give the same air threat that Teddy gives but the ground game will be all of their highlights.

The Packers vs. the run, is the worst in the league, allowing 176 yards per game, and are going up against the leagues 8th best rushing game in the Vikings. Surprising since AP isn’t the one doing the damage. Matt Asiata has been very effective on the ground and catching passes out of the backfield. Don’t sleep on the tandem though, Jerick McKinnon has carried some of AP’s load as well, almost as many yards as Asiata with almost half the carries, averaging almost twice the yards per carry however, that’s all from last game. I’m just saying be aware of the run game. The line has moved from the Packers being favored at -9, to -7.5 to now being -8. Don’t let the line fool you. Christian Ponder is the last guy the Vikings would want under center. He really hasn’t played well since coming into the league and AP took away a lot of negative attention from him because AP was so great.

I think the Packers win big at home against the Vikes. Take the Packers to win with the points -8 in the Over, because I think the Packs defense will give up tons of yardage on the ground but Rodgers seems to have found his groove with both Cobb and has never really been off with Nelson and will rack up some serious air yards if the weather stays fair. Packers 38-20.