- Current Lines
- ATS: Washington Football Team -1.5 (Opened Same)
- Moneyline: Atlanta Falcons -101 / Washington Football Team -120 (Opened Atlanta Falcons +103 / Washington Football Team -123)
- Total: 47.5 (Opened 48)
- *Breakeven %
- **ATS: 52.4% either way (as always for each team)
- Moneyline: 50.2% Atlanta Falcons, 54.5% Washington Football Team
- Total: 52.4% (either way)
- Last meeting: The road Falcons beat the (then named) Redskins 38-14 in 2018
*Reminder: “Breakeven %” equates to, informally, how confident/probable you would need to be to bet that side, and get a fair/even bet (i.e. it helps bettors understand the pricing/payout/odds all at the same time).
**That extra 1.1 percentage points is the price you pay for a fair ATS bet
|When the Falcons have the ball|
|When the Football Team has the ball|
This is a game between 2 lackluster teams expected to finish the season in the bottom half of the league. The Falcons dug themselves into a hole, essentially stalling a rebuild because of the cap-situation with Matt Ryan, and are currently in a “semi-rebuild”, with a couple of young guys that could contribute down the road (assuming they find a QB in the next 1-2 years of first round drafts). The Redskins on the other hand, limped into the playoffs last year because of a seriously weak NFC East. A team that likely played better than expected due to some motivation to fight hard for their coach that was just diagnosed with cancer at the time, out-performed expectations were expected to come back down to their baseline, even with a new QB (who is now out, in Fitzpatrick).
Both team’s seasons have started with a win a piece, but as we always say, “all wins are not equal”. Take a look at how the Falcons pulled out a “W” last week:
And although Washington got smoked by a Bills team last week, you could argue they SHOULD be 2-1 at this point. According to Football Outsider’s “Post-Game Win Expectancy” after Week 1, the Chargers should only expect to win that game 40% of the time.
When the The Football Team have the ball (ATL Defense)
**Key NEW Injuries:
-WAS OFF: NONE
-ATL DEF: CB A.J. Terrell remained in concussion protocol last week, and is day-to-day as of this writing. His absence this year has only resulted in a marginal -.04 EPA/Play when off the field according to SIS ON/OFF Report
The Football Team comes in with a moderate advantage on this side of the ball, mainly due to the Falcons futility. They will have a significant Pass Protection / Pass Rush advantage, as PFF grades Washington 74.5 in Pass Pro, while rating the Falcons at 63.6 Pass Rush. A “Net Pass Pro” advantage is especially important for the Football Team, as they love to use 5-man protections (#4 in 2021), and throw to their backs (#2 in the NFL Last year). This should give Heinicke plenty of time during the game, which ideally will offset his 4th ranked Aggressiveness Factor (throw rate into tight windows according to NFL Next Gen Stats). Tactically, Washington’s offense only has a couple of metrics they rank highly in from last that’s carried over thur far in 2021.
The Falcons and their new DC hasn’t yet been able to bring any positive change to a unit that’s struggled for years now. Tactically, new DC Dean Pees is known for not blitzing heavily, relying instead on a lot of simulated pressure (through bluffs, DL stunts etc). He’s also a big Cover ⅓, MFC (Middle Field Closed/Single High Safety) guy, which, frankly, NFL Offenses have been able to take advantage of the past 2-3 years and is really starting to go (back) out of vogue (since the Seahawks/Legion of Boom brang it into fashion back in the 2010s).
**Note that Injuries considered are ONLY for players that have played the majority of snaps for their side of the ball WITHIN the DVOA rating/PFF Grade we are using as our base (i.e. only players that helped/hurt performance that we are taking into account, that will NOT/confirmed will NOT play this week
When the Falcons have the ball (WAS Defense)
**Key NEW Injuries:
-ATL OFF: NONE
-WAS DEF: NONE
The storyline for the Falcons Offense coming into the year was how much Arthur Smith could fix them with simple tactical changes like increasing the Play-ACtion (PA) rates, and adding some PreSnap Motion. It was a solid prediction to think this would benefit the offense given how well QB Matt Ryan has performed with Play-Action. However, thus far the Falcons PA Rate has actually fallen, and it could be because how oddly poorly Matt Ryan has performed using it. Take a look at the PFF Pass Grade Splits/PA Usage change since last year:
|PA RATE||Non PA Pass Grade||PA Pass Grade||Net Grade w/ PA|
Yes, you would expect Arthur Smith to jam PA Passes down defense’s throats, but that doesn’t seem to be the issue. Let’s take a quick look at what Matt Ryan’s archetype looks like thus far in the season to glean some answers:
|Time to Throw Rank||21|
|Expected Completion Rank||1|
|+/- Completion Rank||26|
Essentially Matt Ryan has been a QB that doesn’t push the ball downfield (4.6 ADOT), doesn’t take any chances and isn’t accurate despite the offense scheming up the best Expected Completion Rank in the NFL. This is especially interesting/telling as the Falcons had an NFL-high 14 coverage sacks last season (most in the NFL), and were much further down in the expected completion (scheming WRs open) than they are having this season. All this tells us is, the OC and WRs are getting open, Matt Ryan just can’t hit them.
The Washington defense came into the year “reeking of plexiglass principle”, which essentially calls for offenses/defenses that have a big jump in productivity one year, to “come back down to earth” the next. And although there’s likely to be some regression for the Football Team’s defense, others point to the fact that they are among the NFL’s youngest (in snap-weighted age), and the teams that “prove the principle wrong” usually are bolstered by youth. Given this overall, and the fact The Washington defense comes into this game with a marked advantage in Pass Pro / Pass Rush, 81.9 vs 54.9, meaning Ryan may not have a chance to get the ball out regardless.
The Market, especially sharp bettors, are heavy on the Football Team here (80% of cash and 56% of tickets ATS on Washington), and I agree with them. Since we are still early in the season, many times bettors overreact to the first few week’s performances, when the data tells us the best way to predict early season outcomes is to balance our priors with what we’ve seen so far. Football Outsiders has a great metric for this called DAVE, which balances the first few weeks performances with our “priors”/projections we had coming into the year, and when doing so, this game isn’t even close:
Pick: Washington -1.5