DON’T let the sports media over-hype this game. This is not a title defense, because this is football, not boxing. Even if we (somehow) lost this game, we wouldn’t have to hand over our Super Bowl trophy. This isn’t a title defense, or even a playoff game. It’s one of sixteen down payments on a playoff berth. That’s it. Now let’s get down to it.
NFL Network reporter Randy Moss, said that the Falcons are looking for revenge against the Eagles, for putting them out of the playoffs last year. He said that aside from Atlanta players and fans, no one really remembers that they almost beat us in that game. He’s wrong on both counts.
First, there is no avenging a playoff loss with a regular season win. For eliminating Atlanta, Philadelphia was rewarded with another playoff game. IF they beat us this week, they’d be rewarded with, (drum roll)…Week #2. Second, winning by five points sucked. We want to beat them by more this time. Like we did in 2016 (Eagles 24 – them 15). You know, when they had pretty much the same team that we just beat 15 – 10 in the playoffs. Which is pretty much the same team they have now. (Are you seeing the pattern, Eagles fans?)
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus Atlanta:
1) Lean on the run: Even if it seems like it’s not working. Whenever QB Carson Wentz gets back, it would be unfair to saddle him with having to carry the Offense. That means we have to get our ground game established. Since we gave our starters the preseason off, we have to start getting things ironed out as early in the year as we can. Seeing RB Jay Ajayi carry the ball 17 times for 82 yards (and RB Corey Clement carry 6 times for 33) would be a solid opening.
2) Chase that bird:
We need to get some pressure up the gut from DT’s Fletcher Cox and Destiny Vaeao. The Falcons QB is (how do I say this gently?) not a very nimble creature. If we can get him off his spot, alter his launch point, and keep him from stepping into throws, it increases our chances of him serving up some warm turnovers.
3) Go for the knockout: WR Mike Wallace is a true deep threat and we should come out making that point. While Wallace’s proficiency with running Slant routes is nice, the fact that he can take the top off of defenses, should help loosen the box, and give our run game room to operate. That being said, we have to at least threaten opponents with him early, or they won’t respect his presence.
4) Win hidden yardage: Of the last 39 points we’ve scored against Atlanta, 19 came off of a Kicker’s toe. A quick KO would be great, but recent games against the Falcons have been wars of attrition. We need to go in expecting to have that kind of a fight.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
The crowd will pick up where it left off, and will be so loud, that the Falcons will have to burn early timeouts to prevent penalties and miscues. QB Nick Foles will be solid. The Eagles will push the Falcons undersized defensive front around, when running the ball. We’ll also use their speed against them, with misdirection plays that pull defenders out of position. WR Julio Jones will catch 9 or 10 balls for 110 or so yards. Atlanta is a play from ahead type team, that’s going to find themselves in a street fight. They’re a plucky bunch, but they simply lack the power to put away a brawler. They just aren’t built for winning that way, which is why we will keep beating them.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 28 – Falcons 16