Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: NFC Divisional Playoffs

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons head into Philadelphia with a hot hand, but will it be enough? Photo Courtesy: Charlie Lyons-Pardue
Matt Ryan and the Falcons head into Philadelphia with a hot hand, but will it be enough?
Photo Courtesy: Charlie Lyons-Pardue
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By Zach Walker

Game Info
Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday – January 13 – 3:35 p.m.
Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia – PA

The Atlanta Falcons
Their biggest weapon: Fire!
The Falcons went through my Super Bowl suicide pool pick against the Rams and they did it with their defensive speed. Deion Jones and Keanu Neal were able to sniff out anything that the Rams were trying to do. They forced Jared Goff to look very elementary in his first playoff appearance. The whole defensive unit for the Falcons looked very ready to matchup against the Rams and though they allowed Todd Gurley to get loose more than a couple of times, the Rams were keen on making Jared Goff the reason they won. The Falcons are rolling in hot, and that’s not good for the Eagles.

Their most glaring flaw: Their Offensive Line
It’s the thing I always look at when I see the Falcons and their flaws. That right side of the line is vulnerable to a wicked pass rush like the Eagles possess. The Eagles have had a great and successful this season getting opposing quarterbacks off of their mark, getting them to the ground, and getting the ball back for their offense. Matt Ryan is going to need to have a day to play well. But, on the bright side, he’ll be the dueling Nick Foles.

The Philadelphia Eagles
Their biggest weapon: The Eagles still won 13 games
Despite losing their season finale to the Dallas Cowboys, this team is still the top seed in the NFC. They bolstered their offense mid-season by adding Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins because the Dolphins are dumb. The offensive line lost Jason Peters but have gotten very good play from his replacement Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Drink when Cris Collinsworth says Vaitai). The Eagles defense might not be Minnesota’s, but they aren’t giving out free lunches. The Cowboys wanted to go out with a win, the Eagles gave up a single touchdown, that’s it. Fletcher Cox is a Top-3 interior defensive lineman in the league, and the men around him aren’t bad either. Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, and Chris Long are all going to get after Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman. Mychal Kendricks is fast enough to keep with Freeman in the open field and the Eagles have the secondary to take advantage of the time afforded by the pass rush.

Their most glaring flaw: Nick Foles
There is nothing that even a full-True Blue blooded Cowboys’ homer can speak ill of in the way that Carson Wentz plays quarterback. He’s the strongest pocket quarterback in the league. There’s really nothing that can be done when he’s got his right arm free with the ball. If a defender is draped all over him, and that arm is free, things are possible. What isn’t advisable is for him to dive head first trying to plow through defenders. It’s pretty damn impressive that he blew out components in his knee, then stayed in on the next play to throw a touchdown. Nick Foles isn’t terrible, but he’s a far cry from Wentz, and the Falcons and everyone know it too. They have to get a game from Foles to win and go on.

With two weeks to prepare, I think Doug Peterson will have Nick Foles making throws he knows that he can complete and in an offense that the veteran back-up can control. I think that defense will play through some bye-week rust and get mean in the second half.

Final Score
Philadelphia 30 – Atlanta 24