The Atlanta Falcons will travel to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to take on the number one-seeded Eagles. This divisional round matchup will kick off at 4:35 PM/ET.
The Falcons are coming off a big upset over the Los Angeles Rams. Atlanta held the Rams in check for most of the afternoon, holding the highest-scoring offense to a whopping 13 points. The Falcons dominated the time of possession, controlling the ball for over 37 minutes. Heading into the next round of the playoffs, Atlanta will try to win another road game against the highest seeded opponent remaining.
The Eagles are that opponent, but there are serious questions that need answering. For starters, the offense hasn’t been the same since they lost Carson Wentz to injury. The Eagles back up quarterback, Nick Foles, is an adequate substitute, but can Foles lead this Eagles team to the Super Bowl? Facing a highly, motived Falcons squad that came within minutes of winning the Super Bowl last season, expect the Eagles to stumble and struggle through this game.
The Falcons are rising.
Atlanta comes into the divisional round looking like a Super Bowl contender. Coming out of the NFC South it was easy to overlook the Falcons. Both the Saints and Carolina made the playoffs, and the Falcons were playing at a level far beneath their 2016 season.
Despite the drop off in offensive production, the Falcons have remained near the top of the league in terms of defense. According to NFL Stats, the Falcons’ defense ranks 9th in terms of yards allowed per game and 8th in terms of points allowed per game this season.
Last week against the Rams, the Falcons defense completely shut down the Rams. Facing a Philadelphia team that’s struggled on offense since losing their quarterback, the Falcons defense certainly has an edge.
Atlanta’s greatest asset on defense is their speed. Against the Rams, the Falcons defense forced Rams’ quarterback Jerod Goff to make insanely accurate throws, and sometimes he did. But, it’s hard to win when a defense has the speed to stay with a teams receivers for so long. That type of coverage makes it easier for defensive lines to get to the quarterback because they have so much time.
Can the Eagles win without Wentz?
No. Maybe if the Eagles were playing in the AFC and had to play the Bills, but in the NFC with so many talented teams, the Eagles don’t stand a chance. They’re a one seed by name only. There are certainly ways that the Eagles could win, but if that Falcons team that played the Rams last week shows up, then the Eagles are toast.
According to NFL Stats, the Eagles rank 3rd in rushing this season. With Nick Foles struggling over the final weeks of the season to really capitalize on the Eagles potential, the offense really should focus more on running the ball. The Eagles have a deep stable of backs that they can use to take the pressure off Foles. Perhaps the most forgotten member of the Eagles rushing attack is LeGarrette Blount. Leading the Eagles in rushing, Blount is a bruising back that punishes teams in the fourth quarter. The Eagles have at least three quality rushers in Blount, Ajayi, and Clement. In trying to control time of possession, expect the Eagles’ offense to use all three of these backs a lot throughout the game.
Eagles vs Falcons Betting Lines
The Eagles offense just isn’t the same without their franchise quarterback, and that’s to be expected. What’s alarming is the Eagles, without Wentz, look like they’re leaderless. The Eagles will need their defense to step up and beat a Falcons team that’s good on both sides of the ball. Don’t expect Philadelphia’s defense to have an answer for the Falcons receivers. Expect Atlanta’s defense to smother the Eagles’ offense on their way to a second consecutive appearance in the NFC Championship game.
Play: Falcons -3 @ BetOnline.ag