The new Sam Bradford Era kicks off in earnest on Monday night when the
oft-injured quarterback leads the Philadelphia Eagles into Atlanta to
face the Falcons in the season opener. Acquired from St. Louis for
fellow QB Sam Foles in the offseason, Bradford isn’t the only highly
publicized new face on Chip Kelly’s team, as reigning Offensive Player
of the Year DeMarco Murray (1,845 yards, 13 touchdowns) has shuffled
over from NFC East rival Dallas to take the place of the departed LeSean
Philadelphia allowed free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to head to
Kansas City, believing that second-year Jordan Matthews can thrive on
the inside while rookie Nelson Agholor can make hay on the outside.
Speaking of wide receivers, two-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones reeled in
104 receptions for a franchise-record 1,593 yards last season en route
to securing a five-year deal worth $71.25 million in the summer. “We
think Julio is an elite receiver in this league, obviously,” Kelly said.
“He presents a lot of problems because of his combination of size and
speed. Usually guys that are 6-foot-2-plus, 6-3, 220 (pounds) don’t run
as fast as Julio.” Matt Ryan (4,694 yards, 28 TDs) will likely look for
Jones on many occasions, but his rebuilt offensive line may have a say
in whether he has enough time to find him.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Eagles -3. O/U: 55
LINE HISTORY: After opening the Giants as 6-point home favorites, sportsbooks have since moved them to -5. The total opened at 49.5 but has risen to 52 as of this writing.
INJURY REPORT: Philadelphia – L. Johnson (probable), K. Alonso (probable), Z. Ertz (questionable), M. Smith (questionable), J. Shepherd (IR). Atlanta – J. Tamme (probable), J. Matthews (probable), R. White (probable), D. Hester (out), B. Reed (IR), J. Asamoah (IR), T. Howard (IR), C. Mooney (IR), L. Holmes (eligible Week 7).
ABOUT THE EAGLES (2014: 10-6, 2nd, NFC EAST): Philadelphia’s
defense also features several new faces as linebacker Kiko Alonso was
acquired from Buffalo for McCoy and cornerback Byron Maxwell came over
from Seattle. At 6-1, 207 pounds, Maxwell may be the best candidate to
press Jones at the line, but he’ll need help over the top to keep the
speedy wideout in check. Also new to Philadelphia is Ryan Mathews, who
is expected to spell Murray while also platooning with pass-catching
Darren Sproles in the backfield.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (2014: 6-10, 3rd, NFC SOUTH): New
offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will attempt to figure out a
backfield in flux as rookie Tevin Coleman has been promoted to starter
with Devonta Freeman nursing a nagging hamstring injury. Veteran Roddy
White is dealing with a balky knee following a pair of injury-plagued
campaigns while Leonard Hankerson replaces the departed Harry Douglas
(Tennessee) as the team’s third wideout in a pass-happy offense. Atlanta
finished last season second in completions (418), third in attempts
(632) and fifth in passing yards (4,553) while its 372 rushing attempts
were sixth worst in the league.
*Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Atlanta.
*Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. NFC.
*Eagles are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games in September.
*Eagles are 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 64 percent of wagers are on the Eagles.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco Giants (+2.5, 41.5)
Star running back Adrian Peterson is back in the lineup and that alone
is reason for optimism for the Minnesota Vikings, who kick off their
season with a visit to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. Peterson
was limited to only one game last season after charges of child abuse
were leveled against him and wound up on the Commissioner’s exempt list.
“You hear the name Adrian Peterson, what do you think? The best running
back in the league,” Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson said. “He’s
going to draw a lot of attention.” Perhaps the only positive to come out
of Peterson’s absence was the development of rookie quarterback Teddy
Bridgewater, who lived up to his first-round status over the final month
of the season. The 49ers, meanwhile, entered last season as one of the
favorites to reach the Super Bowl, but they are loaded with uncertainty
after switching head coaches and undergoing massive personnel changes.
Jim Tomsula takes over for Jim Harbaugh, who returned to his alma mater
Michigan, and faces the unenviable task of overhauling a defense that
lost four players to retirement to go with the release of star pass
rusher Aldon Smith.
TV: 10:20 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Vikings -2.5. O/U: 41.5
LINE HISTORY: The pointspread has been on a wild ride in this one, as books are currently dealing San Fran +2.5 after opening them as 4-point faves.
WEATHER: The forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the 69 degree Fahrenheit ballpark at game time.
INJURY REPORT: Minnesota – M. Pruitt (probable), J. Robinson (out indefinitely), J. Price (eligible Week 3), J. Sullivan (IR), P. Loadholt (IR), C. Matthews (IR). San Francisco – A. Brooks (probable), T. Smith (probable), J. Simpson (eligible Week 7), K. Hunter (IR), D. Anderson (IR), D. Kilgore (IR), D. Smelter (IR).
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (2014: 7-9, 3rd NFC NORTH): Peterson had scored
at least 10 touchdowns in each of his first seven seasons and rushed
for at least 1,266 yards in six of his first seven campaigns, so he’ll
provide Bridgewater with a major weapon. Bridgewater, who completed 72.1
percent of his passes and threw for eight touchdowns versus five
interceptions over the final five games, has another deep threat in
wideout Mike Wallace and a big red-zone target in tight end Kyle
Rudolph, who has missed nearly half his games over the past two seasons.
Minnesota’s defense improved as the season went on, holding six of its
last 11 opponents to 17 points or fewer.
ABOUT THE 49ERS (2014: 8-8, 3rd NFC WEST):
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick finished with 19 touchdown passes versus
10 interceptions while reaching career highs in passing (3,369) and
rushing yards (639), but he’ll be without veteran running back Frank
Gore. Carlos Hyde is expected to take over in the backfield while Torrey
Smith provides blazing speed at wide receiver, but the 49ers could use a
return to form by tight end Vernon Davis, who managed only 26
receptions and a career-worst two touchdown catches. The linebacking
corps took a hit with the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris
Borland while the losses of Aldon Smith and the retired Justin Smith
weaken the pass rush.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-seven percent of bets are on the Vikes, per Covers Consensus.