Falcons vs. Raiders Odds & Picks: How Julio Jones Impacts Our Betting Position
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Atlanta Falcons stars Calvin Ridley, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
Falcons vs. Raiders Odds
Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders will head to Atlanta on Sunday for what will be a pivotal game in the their hunt for a playoff berth.
After an 0-5 start, the Falcons are 3-2 under interim head coach Raheem Morris and have been playing a revitalized brand of football of late, despite a road loss to the Saints last week.
Can the Falcons keep up with a Raiders team that’s averaging 28.6 points per game this season?
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders lost starting left guard Richie Incognito last week to a season-ending foot injury, a significant blow to an offensive line that has been a strong spot for the team all season. Incognito had allowed zero sacks so far this season and is replaced by Denzelle Good and his low 59.9 Pro Football Focus (PFF) rating.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell was on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week, but he was removed on Friday and will play.
Carr has seen a resurgence this season, completing nearly 70% of his passes en route to an impressive 19-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His 108.7 passer rating also ranks as the best in his career.
He’ll have a strong matchup against the Falcons, who rank 26th in pass defense, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. They’ve allowed big performances to quarterbacks all season, with opposing passers throwing for 3,136-22-7 in 10 games.
They’ve also allowed huge receiving performances to opposing wideouts over the past few weeks — Michael Thomas (9-104-0), Jerry Jeudy (7-125-1) and Kenny Golladay (6-114-0) — something that bodes well for this Raiders’ passing attack.
While the Falcons’ run DVOA ranks at a respectable 10th in the league, they were exploited last week by the Saints to the tune of 166 rushing yards last week. The loss of Incognito hurts, but running back Josh Jacobs is proving once again to be an elite-level talent.
Jacobs’ 755 rushing yards (fourth-best) and nine touchdowns (tied for fourth) are amongst the top marks in the league and he’s well within reach of a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.
While we shouldn’t expect a ceiling performance from Jacobs, the Raiders ground attack should find enough success to keep the defense guessing.
Running back Todd Gurley has been ruled out with a knee injury, opening the door for backup Brian Hill to lead the Falcons’ backfield.
Hill underwhelmed in two starts for the Falcons last season, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. Ito Smith also figures to be involved and is a more effective pass-catching back.
Meanwhile, Julio Jones suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s game and managed to play only 22 snaps. He’s been limited in practice and is officially a game-time decision for Sunday.
Tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) was a limited participant in practice on Friday and is officially questionable but is expected to play.
The Falcons offense has been extremely inconsistent this season, but they’ve found themselves in high-scoring games more often than not. Despite a poor 3-7 record, Matt Ryan has the fourth-most passing yards (2,978) in the league and is leading an offense that is averaging 25.2 points per game.
Jones and Calvin Ridley have also both been spectacular. Despite each missing time to injury, both are in the top 20 in receiving yards among all receivers this season. And both have very strong matchups against a Raiders secondary that sports the NFL’s 26th-rated PFF coverage rating (46.5). Jones is expected to run most of his routes against Damon Arnette in a matchup where Jones has a massive 64% advantage (per PFF). On the other side, Ridley will be lining up against cornerback Trayvon Mullen in a matchup that Ridley has a projected 47% advantage.
Overall, this Raiders defense is allowing 27.6 points per game, among the worst marks in the NFL. Both Jones and Ridley are elite-level talents who should have no problem exploiting this outmatched Raiders secondary.
This total opened at 56, but sharp money has driven that it down to 54. As of early Sunday, 74% of the money is on the under (find real-time public betting data here). Keep in mind, however, that much of that money was bet above the current total.
The Raiders’ total has gone above 55 points in eight of 10 games this season, while the Falcons have scored 25 or more points in six of 10 (including three games above 30 points). Combine that with the fact that both passing offenses have strong matchups against the opposing secondaries, and you have the recipe for a shootout.
All of this is assuming that Jones is active, however — in games that Jones has missed or played limited snaps due to injury this season, the Falcons’ offense has struggled mightily, averaging just 16 points per game.
Assuming Jones plays and is expected to receive his normal share of snaps, I’m taking the over on this one and am comfortable betting this up to 54.
PICK: Over 54 (if Julio Jones is active)