NFL Betting: Atlanta Falcons unlikely to run the table

The Atlanta Falcons are currently 7-0 as they prepare to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday evening from the Georgia Dome. The Falcons remain the only undefeated team in the NFL and due to that they’ve drawn a lot of attention their way. But despite their unblemished record most sportsbooks still make the Falcons a fourth favorite to win the Superbowl (+700; 7/1) behind Houston, New England and San Francisco (bet365). When it comes to running the tables in the regular season the odds on the Falcons are even longer.

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Bovada came out with a betting prop this week that offers odds of +1000 (10/1) on the Falcons going 16-0. If you take a mathematical perspective on your bets then in order to take that line you would have to be thinking that Atlanta stand a better than 9.09% chance of winning their next nine games. Not only is that opinion unsupported by our quantitative point spread projections but there is another perspective that needs to be considered as well: even if the Falcons threaten to go undefeated, it just might make them apathetic toward the final games of the regular season.

Let’s say that the Falcons are 14-0 heading into the final two weeks of the season, something that in itself is a bit of a stretcher. Let’s also say that 14 wins is strong enough to claim top spot in the NFC this season, something that is a reasonable enough assumption. That would mean that Atlanta would be looking at two games against Detroit and Tampa Bay to close out the regular season that would essentially be meaningless for the Falcons: they would have no motive to win them. If those two teams, Detroit and Tampa Bay, have anything to play for the games might feature scrappy Lions and desperate Buccaneers against Falcon scrubs, backups, and benchwarmers.

But Atlanta critics probably won’t be waiting until week 15 to see the Falcons falter. When you look at scores already posted you see a couple wins in Atlanta’s season that weren’t that convincing. It’s true that “a win is a win” in the standings regardless of the final spread but when it comes to evaluating betting lines, winning margins have to be considered. The Falcons only posted a two point victory in week 4 against a Carolina team that is now just 1-6. Additionally Atlanta only beat the Oakland Raiders by three in week 6, a team that is a mediocre 3-4 and an unimpressive -48 on net points so far this season. Importantly both of those close games came from Atlanta’s Georgia Dome where you’d expect the Falcons to be playing better.

When the Falcons will lose is highly debatable but that the Falcons are not like the 2007 Patriots or last year’s Packers in terms of their abilities to blow out teams is not. The Falcons cannot be taken as a serious threat to go 16-0 because they’ve tempted fate far too often with narrow victories, games where the results could have gone the other way with a timely big play or even luck. Based on our win odds and all the projected point spreads, we have the Falcons’ final record at a more than respectable 13-3 but not even close to undefeated.

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