Bettors loading up on Falcons in NFL opener against Eagles

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles earned Super Bowl MVP honors in Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over New England in February, but he and his teammates are getting no respect from bettors in Thursday night’s NFL season opener.

Professional bettors have backed the Atlanta Falcons in a big way, including a $100,000 wager placed Aug. 26 at the South Point sports book that dropped the Eagles to 3-point favorites after the line opened at 4.

Money has continued to pour in Thursday on Atlanta, which is now a 1-point favorite at several Las Vegas sports books, including Boyd Gaming. The game is a pick’em at most spots.

“It’s a huge move. It’s one of the biggest moves I’ve seen on an opening Thursday night game of an NFL season,” Boyd Gaming sports book director Bob Scucci said Thursday afternoon after flipping the Falcons from 1-point underdogs to 1-point favorites.

“Typically, when the Super Bowl champs play in that opening game, the line is inflated, knowing the public will back the Super Bowl champs. But what we’ve seen is the complete opposite,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen such a lack of confidence in the Super Bowl champs.

“The Falcons are a great team, but I still don’t know if I’ve ever seen a defending Super Bowl champ be an underdog in its first game the next year.”

Philadelphia has ruled out quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins for the game, and linebacker Nigel Bradham will serve his one-game suspension.

“The sharp guys feel Foles is a significant downgrade. But we kind of knew he was playing,” Scucci said. “To flip-flop favorites without a significant personnel change is really unheard of.”

Caesars Entertainment and William Hill sports books are heavy on the Falcons.

“We’re buried on the Falcons. We need the Eagles pretty good, which is goofy because all we did was need against them at the end of last year,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “The last five or six weeks of the regular season and playoffs, they bet the Eagles hard.”

Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said the professional money is on Atlanta and the betting public is on Philadelphia, which beat the Falcons 15-10 in the playoffs last season.

“(The sharps) knew Wentz wasn’t going to play, Jeffery’s hurt and the Eagles’ best linebacker is suspended for this game. The Eagles have a lot of issues,” Salmons said. “Plus Atlanta’s season ended there last year, so they have motivation to beat them, and there’s the Super Bowl ceremony for the Eagles. It’s a tough spot.

“And Foles has looked dreadful in the preseason.”

Home teams have won 14 of the last 15 NFL weeknight season openers, going 9-3-3 ATS.

The total is either 44½ or 45 at Las Vegas sports books.

“We’re a little heavy on the under, which is also unusual,” Scucci said.

More betting: Follow all of our sports betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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