Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons
Date and Time: Thursday, 8/11/16, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Week 1 Preseason NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Falcons -3 (37)
Redskins vs. Falcons TV Coverage: Local
Though it certainly wasn't a hard rule that teams which were good in the preseason last year were good in the regular season, there were a few teams which really laid the groundwork for a good run in 2016. Washington was chief amongst those clubs. The Redskins won and covered three of their four preseason games and outscored teams by 24 points in those outings, and they went on from there to win the NFC East.
Atlanta, a 2-2 team in the preseason which was outscored by just one point per game on average, finished at 8-8 and was outscored by just 0.4 points per game.
Matchup To Watch
It isn't often that we talk about defense in the preseason, but defense is clearly Quinn's calling card, and this is where the Falcons need to improve the most in 2016. They have 13 rookies on this depth chart at the moment, including first round pick Keanu Neal and second round pick Deion Jones. Add in the fact that the defensive end battles in camp are going to be a lot tougher with Tyson Jackson, Derrick Shelby and Adrian Clayborn in town now, and you've got the makings of some guys playing some extra time who might end up being starters who wouldn't have gotten nearly as many reps.
Jay Gruden knows that his offense doesn't have anything new to learn in this offseason, and Kirk Cousins is an asset which is now certainly worth protecting. Colt McCoy is a seasoned vet now and won't need to play much either, and Gruden has a history of wanting to take good, long looks at his newcomers. Considering the fact that sixth round pick, Nate Sudfeld is the only other pivot on the roster at the moment, expect to see him up against some of the top men on Atlanta's depth chart early in this game. That could end up making the difference in this one.
As far the other side of the ball, the Falcons have signed Matt Schaub to be Matt Ryan's backup, and both figure to spend most of this game on the bench. Sean Renfree, who historically has been pretty good in the preseason, should play at least half of this game, while Matt Simms might finish things off.
Washington has nine rookies on the depth chart on defense, though only two, Su'a Cravens and Kendall Fuller are really expected to make the roster. The rest of the guys are fringe men who are likely to end up getting cut.
Redskins vs. Falcons Free Picks
Between motivation and home field advantage, Atlanta feels like the right pick in this game. The Falcons won and covered both of their home games and failed in both of their road games last preseason, and that could end up playing a role here as well.
If Renfree plays deep into this game, look for him to be the difference-maker in preserving the early lead which Matty Ice and Schaub build up for the hosts.
Redskins vs. Falcons Week 1 Preseason ATS Pick: Falcons -3 at BookMaker.eu
Redskins vs. Falcons Score Prediction: Falcons 27 – Redskins 17