NFL Betting: Atlanta Falcons 2018 Season Recap
When the 2018 season began, the Atlanta Falcons had designs of becoming the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in their own stadium. It did not take long for the Falcons to realize that those ideas would not come to fruition. For the most part it was a disastrous, injury-plagued season in Atlanta. Perhaps the only good news is that the Falcons and their fans escaped having to watch the rival New Orleans Saints play for the Lombardi Trophy inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Let’s take a look at how the Atlanta Falcons 2018 Season went.
What went wrong?
The Falcons can make plenty of legitimate excuses for their 7-9 record that was really even worse than 7-9 suggests. Star running back Devonta Freeman missed basically the entire year, playing in just two games because of a lingering knee injury. Safety Keanu Neal was lost for the season in the opener against Philadelphia when he suffered a torn ACL. Linebacker Deion Jones—yes, yet another Pro Bowler—was placed on injured reserve (designated for return) after sustaining a foot injury in Week 1 against the Eagles. Jones did not come back until early December, at which point Atlanta was already out of the realistic playoff picture at 4-7.
Without Freeman, the Tevin Coleman-led rushing attack finished 27th in the league at 98.3 yards per game. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s second—and final—season with the Falcons did not go much better than the first one, as his offense consistently failed to deliver in pressure-packed situations such as short-yardage, third downs, red zone, and late-game situations. In its first three losses to Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Cincinnati, it was outscored in regulation by a combined seven points (including a 43-37 overtime loss to the Saints and a 37-36 setback against the Bengals).
Falcons Against the Spread
Unfortunately for anyone who backed the Falcons early in the season, competitive losses did not pay any dividends. After all, expectations were high for this team heading into the 2018 campaign and it was favored against both New Orleans and Cincinnati while getting only one point in its opener despite facing Philadelphia on the road. Thus the Falcons were 1-3 ATS through four contests and things never got much better on the betting front, as they finished 5-11 ATS. Only in the final three games—all of which were meaningless for everyone involved with Arizona, Carolina, and Tampa making up the unspectacular opposition—did the Falcons start covering spreads on a consistent basis. They were 3-0 both ATS and SU in those three outings. Overall, Atlanta was 3-5 ATS at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and 2-6 ATS away from home.
Atlanta could not have been an easy team for which the bookmakers to set over/unders. After all, the Falcons had been all over the place in previous seasons. The over was 13-2-1 in 2016, whereas the under—with bloated totals based on Atlanta’s offensive prowess the previous year—was 5-11 in 2017. This time around, a more modest 9-7 record for the over was the finished product. Former NFL MVP Matt Ryan threw 35 touchdown passes compared to only seven interceptions and Julio Jones led the league with 1,677 receiving yards, so this offense was the real deal. But it should been even better—and would have been if not for the aforementioned problematic areas. The Falcons’ inability to find the endzone and reliance on kicker Matt Bryant was evident in the fact that Jones scored only eight touchdowns (none in the first seven games) despite his incredible yardage numbers. As such, the under was almost as productive as the over in 2018 even though Atlanta’s offense moved the ball consistency and its defense was banged up the entire year.