Matt Ryan Ready to Help Falcons Fly Over Seahawks
The Atlanta Falcons host the Seattle Seahawks in NFC divisional round action Saturday, and the sports books took early action on Atlanta. BookMaker is still offering the Falcons at -4.5 while many others including top shops William Hill and 5Dimes favor the Falcons by 5 points. The total has also risen up to 52, and their are plenty of live in-game betting options along with proposition wagering available in the playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons -4.5
Seattle Seahawks +4.5
Georgia Dome, Atlanta. Surface: Turf.
Kickoff at 4:35 pm ET on FOX TV
I played the Falcons earlier at -4 so you know the side I prefer. The extra week and rest should be a real benefit and allow coach Dan Quinn, Seattle's defensive coordinator during their Recent Super Bowl-winning seasons, to have his defense ready to slow the Seahawks offense with NFL sack leader Vick Beasley a key cog at linebacker. Seattle coach Pete Carroll may have the better defense in Seattle with the Seahawks ranking No. 2 statistically while also allowing just 18 points per game, but trying to slow this historically strong Falcons offense will be a tall order.
We don't see that happening, especially with Seattle playing without top safety Earl Thomas this week. Thomas is a key cog in Seattles Legion of Boom defense. With Thomas in the game, Seattle allowed 7 touchdowns and had 10 interceptions this year; without him, the team surrendered 9 touchdowns and had 1 interception.
We're attacking the sports books with a player prop, looking for another strong game from Falcons QB Matt Ryan as we play over the total passing yards prop.
286.5 passing yards by Matt Ryan (O/U -110)
Ryan passed for nearly 5,000 yards this season with a staggering 9.3 yards per pass - by far the best in the league. He also completed 70% of his passes to ignite the leagues most efficient and explosive offense. His 117.1 passer rating is the 5th-highest in NFL history. He hit star speed receiver Julio Jones often (83/1409 yards), but connected for touchdowns to 13 different targets in 2016; the most in a single season in NFL history.
The Falcons balanced the attack beautifully with a rushing game that averaged 120 rushing YPG to rank top-5 in the league. Devonta Freeman rushed for over 1,000 yards with 11 rushing TD's and caught another 54 passes and 2 touchdowns. So Ryan has plenty of weapons and a terrific play-caller and offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. Overall, the Falcons averaged a league-high 6.7 yards per play which ranks top-7 in the history of the NFL. They also averaged 34 points per game and 416 yards per game to make them one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.
Ryan passed just over 33 times per game, which was below league average. But with the Seahawks playing without star safety Earl Thomas and failing to register a interception in their last five games, Ryan should pass often enough with success to eclipse 286 yards. Ryan passed 42 times for 335 yards and 3 TD's in the controversial 26-24 loss at Seattle in week 6 when Seattle's strong defensive front slowed the Falcons running game to 51 yards.
Ryan was strong on the road this season passing for an average of 295 yards per game. At home in the Georgia Dome, he posted a sensational 323 passing yards per game. The only things that prevents Ryan from eclipsing this passing yards total is an injury during the game or if the Seahawks are able to control the ball, clock and chains enough with their ground game to keep the Falcons offense off the field more and limit their offensive plays.
We're betting Ryan and the Falcons offense to continue their efficiency and production and we're playing over the total in this passing prop.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay