Last year, we saw an abysmal offensive showdown in the NFC Divisional Round between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. On that date, the Eagles won 15-10 in Lincoln Financial Field. This Thursday, we see those two match up again in a slightly less meaningful game. Both defenses should stand stout, but Atlanta’s defense has a more favorable match up.
2017 Season MVP Candidate Carson Wentz will still be sidelined after a severe knee injury last season. 2017 Superbowl MVP Nick Foles will be starting in his place. Foles took care of the football really well last time they played, throwing for 246 yards and completing twenty-three of thirty passes. He did not throw a touchdown however. Expect this time around for that completion percentage to be lower considering Desmond Trufant is at full health. Additionally, Alshon Jeffery should be declared out or at least is questionable as of now, still recovering from shoulder surgery over the off-season. And to add to the list, Jay Ajayi has been resting throughout the preseason with knee issues. All three of their number one skill position players are struggling with injuries. This takes a lot of pressure off Atlanta’s defense and should allow them to key on specific players and schemes.
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We know Philly is going to try to get Ertz the ball. Deion Jones has enough foot speed and skills to contain him. Along with additional attention over the top, I believe Ertz could quite possibly disappear in this game. If anybody else is following Ertz around the field, things could be different. Doug Pederson is going to try to keep Atlanta off balance with the mixture of Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendall Smallwood, and Darren Sproles. If the Falcons can stay away from mismatches with theses shifty backs and big tight ends in Ertz and Rookie Dallas Goedert, they should see a lot of success on Thursday night.
Be Ready For Creativity
Doug Pederson is now known for his offensive brilliance. People roam the streets chanting Philly Special because so. Dan Quinn and the Falcons must be ready for anything come Thursday. Containing his creativity and keeping this offense off the field will help in avoiding such play calls. The Falcons are known for their fast pace and high energy. If they can get Philadelphia off the field in quick three play drives, all game they should be rested and ready for whatever Foles has to throw at them.
This match-up, although typically would provide offensive fire power against anyone else in the league, should be another low to mid scoring game. Expect both teams to barely reach the twenties in scoring. I personally think Atlanta will hold Foles and company to lower than the fifteen points they gave up last year. That is hoping the offense can stay on the field a little longer than before.