The NFC’s reigning conference champs, the Atlanta Falcons, flexed their postseason muscles last weekend by defeating the Los Angeles Rams. With their victory, the Falcons come into this matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles as the favorite, despite playing in Philly. Are the Falcons heating up at the right time and going back to the NFC conference title game or will the Eagles win this battle of the birds? Kickoff inside Lincoln Financial Field is at 4:35 PM ET.
The Eagles and Falcons have played 33 times before. Philadelphia holds the advantage with an 18-14-1 all-time record against Atlanta. Philly also holds an all-time home record of 10-6-1 against the Falcons. Atlanta is 1-2 against Philly in the playoffs, with their last matchup back in 2005. Last year these two teams played in the regular season and Philly won that contest by a score of 24-15.
Atlanta (11-6) finished the season 5-3 on the road. However, they are coming off a big road victory in the playoffs where they grounded the high scoring Rams offense. Atlanta had an impressive defensive performance and showed the young Rams what playoff experience looks like. Can they go into Philly and beat a Wentz-less Eagles team?
Philadelphia (13-3) finished the regular season with a 7-1 home record. However, that one loss did come at the end of the season as they lost to the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles were resting players for this big playoff game. Everything comes down to Philly managing the game for backup QB Nick Foles. Can Foles lead the Eagles to victory?
Surprisingly, the Falcons are a road favorite in this playoff matchup. Depending on the book, you can get the Falcons at -3 or -2.5 points. Since we are taking the Falcons, go with the -2.5 line. The Over/Under opened at 44.5 points and has come down to 41.5 total points.
Atlanta had to fight to overcome their Super Bowl Hangover by winning the final game of the regular season just to get into the playoffs. Then they go to Los Angeles and shock the NFC by holding the league’s top scoring team to just 13 points. It was a fantastic performance by the Falcons as they never trailed in the game. Did you know, this was the first time the Falcons won playoff games in consecutive years?
The Falcons defense held Jared Goff to 259 passing yards and 1 TD. More importantly, they forced Goff to have an inaccurate game as he only completed 24 of 45 passes. Additionally, Atlanta prevented Todd Gurley from dominating the game. Gurley still got over 100 rushing yards (101), but he didn’t score and that’s big news for Atlanta’s defense.
The Eagles don’t have a running back like Gurley. In fact, they don’t have as impressive of an offense with Foles at QB. You can expect Atlanta to implement a similar defensive strategy as they just did with the Rams. It will require the Falcons to play man against the Eagles receivers, stack the box, slow down the run and bring the pressure. If they can do this, then they will win this game.
In fact, I do believe the Falcons will win this game. I like their balance on offense and I love how they grinded out that tough game against the Rams. If anything, it gave the reigning NFC champs a much needed confidence boost, which is bad news for the Eagles. Perhaps, the most impressive stat of the game between the Falcons and Rams was that Atlanta held the ball for 37+ minutes. They kept the high scoring Rams offense on the sideline and chipped away at LA’s defense until they won the game.
This week, I see Atlanta doing the same thing offensively. However, I do believe they will have more success defensively against the Eagles as Nick Foles isn’t as dangerous as Goff. Also, Atlanta had to settle for 4 field goals last weekend, otherwise that score could’ve been worse for the Rams.
Philly’s defense ranked 1st in the league against the run at 79.2 ypg, 4th in total yards allowed at 306.5, and 4th in points allowed at 18.4 ppg. So, their defense will be tasked with shutting down a top 10 offense who has its mojo back.
Backup Eagles QB Nick Foles finished the regular season with a 56.4% completion percentage, 79.5 Rating, and had 5 TDs to 2 interceptions. He put up the majority of his 2017 stats in two starts against the Raiders and the Giants. So, that doesn’t exactly instill confidence in me or Vegas, which is why the Falcons are a road favorite.
What I see happening is Matt Ryan making more plays for the Falcons than Foles for the Eagles. Ryan will build off his decent performance last weekend and throw for at least 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. Atlanta won’t be able to run the ball much against the Eagles, but they will get more offensive opportunities than the Eagles as the Falcons defense will shut down Foles and the Eagles offense.
I believe Atlanta wins this game by a field goal 23-20 and heads back to the NFC conference title game. The Falcons have more experience than the Eagles and they have a huge QB advantage that will make the difference. I believe both teams will cancel each other out in the running department and defensive performances. But, the former NFL MVP Matty Ice will play like an MVP in this game and win the contest.
Atlanta is 6-3 ATS in their last 9 overall games and 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games against NFC East opponents. Philly is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 overall games and 0-3 ATS with Foles as a starter.