The line opened at Falcons -10. It closed at nearly -14. And that wasn't nearly enough, as hordes of the betting public flooded to the sportsbook to put their money on Atlanta. Turns out there might be something to this "wisdom of crowds" thing after all.
There were all kinds of deceptive factors in this game, for those that wanted to believe in the Jacksonville Jaguars (or the massive point spread). However, each one of these truths had a big lie at heart, as the Falcons quickly exposed.
Truth: The Jaguars came into the game with the fourth-ranked passing defense, one of only five teams giving up less than 200 yards per game.
The lie behind the truth: Teams don't need to pass for huge yardage to put games out of reach on this Jacksonville team, as awful as their offense is. Early in the third quarter, Matt Ryan had a mere 160 yards passing, and his team was up 34-0.
A muffed punt inside the Jaguars' ten yard line produced the first of three laughably easy scores for the Falcons. Atlanta scored 17 of their 41 points points on a total of 11 yards of offense.
Truth: Maurice Jones-Drew is the league's leading rusher.
The lie behind the truth: Unless MJD is doing the scoring himself, the team isn't benefiting from his work. Jones-Drew has seven touchdowns on the season. The rest of his offense has ten. Only one team -- the Rams, who are challenging for the worst scoring offense in the modern era -- has fewer receiving touchdowns.
Case in point: with his team down by a semi-respectable 17 points, Jones-Drew ripped off a 43-yard run. A dropped pass, a busted protection and a bad throw later (those were three different plays) the Jaguars punted from inside the Atlanta 40 yard line.
Truth: The Atlanta Falcons don't generate much pass pressure, ranking 27th in the NFL in sacks.
The lie behind the truth: They haven't faced many passing offenses as inept and ill-equipped as Jacksonville. John Abraham had only five sacks coming into this game, but had racked up 31 quarterback pressures, good for ninth in the NFL among 4-3 defensive ends. He's a little less explosive than he was in his prime, and is facing off against a new class of offensive tackle.
That was before he lined up against Guy Whimper, who learned the art of avoiding contact from a Spanish bullfighter, and took aim at Blaine Gabbert, who holds on to the ball for far too long.
Abraham racked up three and a half sacks and forced two fumbles, both deep in Jacksonville territory.
Truth: The Jacksonville Jaguars showed what they're capable of in a 41-14 win over Tampa Bay last week.
The line behind the truth: They also showed what they're capable of tonight. Two ends of a spectrum. We got the really, really bad end of it tonight.
Another lie behind the truth: The Tampa Bay Bucs are just that bad. By transitive property, this week's Falcons beat last week's Bucs 82-28. That's got to be some kind of record.