This is a major theme going around the Eagles locker room right now. The players feel like they have been disrespected all year. Now they are the number one seed and are underdogs at home just because they lost Carson Wentz. Therefore, some of the players are taking this personally as they absolutely should. Just because Wentz was having an MVP season doesn’t mean that he was the only reason their record is 13-3. This team was dominant throughout most of the year, blowing out teams, running the ball, and shutting opposing offenses down. Doug Peterson has posted this in the locker room and multiple players have gone public about this topic. I fully expect the Eagles to come out firing this weekend and really take it to the Falcons. Their game plan better be to come out and show everyone why they are the number one seed, not just because Wentz was under center, but because the whole team played together and did their job.
The Run Game
Let’s face it, nobody knows how Nick Foles is going to look this week. Will we see the Nick Foles who threw for four touchdowns against the Giants? Or the Foles who couldn’t complete a pass that played against the Raiders and Cowboys? So with all that said, the Eagles best bet is to rely on something they know works and something they have great depth at. The run game. Philadelphia has said that they plan on using Jay Ajayi extensively during their playoff run. That’s a decent plan as Ajayi has been the Eagles premier back since his acquisition from the Dolphins. But, the Eagles cannot forget who else they have back there, they need to run LeGarrette Blount as well. If they can pound the ball with those two for a few quarters they will wear down the Falcons defense.
The Eagles are 7-1 at home this year. The only game that they lost was the week 17 game that all the backups played in. The Linc will be loud this weekend, as the fanbase as a whole has been waiting four years for another playoff game. The Eagles crowd has a pretty big impact on how they play at home, the noise fuels them. Over the past two years, the Eagles have shown this as they have posted a league-best 13-3 record. Jim Swartz, Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator released a statement earlier this week saying that “The fans are going to mean an awful lot this week”. This is just further confirmation that both the coaches and the player feel the noise and use it as fuel during the games.
Defense Wins Championships
This is the biggest key to the Eagles success throughout the playoffs. Their best bet is to hold the Falcons under 20 points all game and to set Philadelphia’s offense up with good field position as much as possible. This might be difficult as Brandon Graham is still dealing with a high ankle injury that is said to still be keeping him ginger while putting weight on it. Nick Foles hasn’t proved much of anything in his starts since the loss of Carson Wentz, except that he can score when the defense sets him up. The game that Foles was set up inside the 25 twice he had four touchdowns and actually looked good. If the defense can step up throughout the playoffs and hold the opposing teams to a reasonable amount of points and set up Foles the Eagles will win games.