Philadelphia comes into this game as the number one seed in the NFC, but the line favors the Falcons by 2.5. The Eagles come into this game as an underdog mostly because of their play in the final few regular season games. Their offense has been struggling ever since they lost their MVP candidate quarterback Carson Wentz. One thing that Philly fans have hope for is that Nick Foles has shown that he can be good and they have had two full weeks to get him ready and to create an offense that is friendly to his skill set.
The advantage here goes heavily to the Falcons. Matt Ryan is still an elite quarterback in the league and has experience in the playoffs. Foles is the Eagles backup and hasn’t shown anything that would make him even close to the level Ryan is on. The loss of Carson Wentz severely hurt Philadelphia’s odds in the playoffs.
I think the Eagles get this one but its very close. The Eagles have great depth at running back with Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement. The Falcons really only use two backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The way the Eagles spread the ball around and the skillset of all three backs complement each other nicely.
I think this matchup is dead even, both teams have a core group of reliable receivers. The Falcons have Julio Jones, Muhammad Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel. Jones is the leader of the squad and arguably the best receiver in the league. Meanwhile, the Eagles have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith. None of them are top five receivers in the league but they are all decent receivers who complement one another well.
The advantage here goes heavily to the Eagles. The Falcons tight ends are hardly a part of their passing game and, even when they are, Austin Hooper is the guy who does not compare to the Eagles three-headed attack. Philadelphia’s leading receiver is Zach Ertz who has 824 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Accompanying him are fellow tight ends Brent Celek and Trey Burton. Their tight ends as a whole have accounted for 14 touchdowns this year making them a huge part of the offensive attack.
In another close matchup, I lean slightly in favor of the Eagles. The Eagles’ left side of the offensive line is one of, if not the best, in the league starting with Jason Kelce an All-Pro center, Brandon Brooks a good big guard, and Lane Johnson an All-Pro and Pro Bowl tackle selection this year. While the Falcons line is by no means bad the Eagles just have the slight edge.
Philly’s defensive front is known as one of the best in the league. With a starting line of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, and Vinny Curry, Philadelphia is able to constantly put pressure on the quarterback and stuff opposing running backs. The Eagles are also fortunate enough to have another four-man rotation that allows all their starters to get rest, and the second line is not a huge dropoff by any means from their starters. While the Falcons line is decent with their stars Adrian Clayborn and Takkarist McKinley the advantage goes heavily to the Eagles here.
The Falcons linebacking core is a dominant force this year. Led by middle linebacker Dion Jones and outside linebacker Vic Beasley this group of guys can rush the passer or cover the middle of the field. Meanwhile, the Eagles have had a very unfortunate year at linebacker with all the injuries they have sustained. They lost Jordan Hicks, their starting middle linebacker, to an Achilles injury as well as losing his backup Joe Walker to a neck injury. The rest of the Eagles linebackers have stepped up this year but it still isn’t enough to give them an edge in this category, advantage Falcons.
As of recently, the Atlanta defensive backs have been playing great football. But the Eagles have the potential to play like the elite group they are. The safeties of the Eagles are some of the best in the league with Rodney McLeod and one of the leaders of the defense Malcolm Jenkins. The corners of both teams have the potential to be great, I believe that the Eagles have more talent but the Falcons defensive backs have been playing great as of late. I would have to say that this matchup is even.
I think this will be a great and thrilling game, but I think that the two weeks that the Eagles had off was enough time for them to set up an offensive scheme around Foles that will be able to carry them through this game. I think that this will be a relatively low scoring game with a final score of 24-21 Eagles. Foles leads them on a game-winning drive down the field to set up a Jake Elliot game-winning field goal.