NFL: Falcons at Eagles Divisional Round
By FRANCIS S ESTEPAN
ITC Sports Division Writer
Last Saturday the Atlanta Falcons were a 6 point underdog against the LA Rams. They dominated the Rams and finished with a 13 point victory.
Matt Ryan finished with 218 Yards, only missing his target 9 times out of 30, and 1 touchdown. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu combined for 169 yards and one touchdown. Atlanta’s defense deserve to be talked about as much as anybody else, they held a high-octane offense in Goff and Gurley to 1 touchdown. Atlanta got over the hangover and are finally becoming the team that people projected them to be. They are coming in to the matchup as a 2.5 favorite according to oddsshark.
Philadelphia Eagles had a bye week, more than likely spent on building the offense around Nick Foles and Jay Ayali. Losing Carson Wentz was the worst that could happen to a team that was looking to get back into title contention. DO NOT UNDERSTIMATE the Eagles. This is still a very capable team in the hands of a very capable QB in Nick Foles. Yes, it can be acknowledged that he is a downgrade from Carson Wentz, but at all times players have to be ready to step up to the big moment and for Nick this could be his moment. The Eagles are surrounding Foles with Ajayi, Blount, Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz who are all capable of handling the pressure and to make plays for Foles.
Key Matchups/ Factors
- Matt Ryan has thrown 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the last 2 “Live or Die” matchups finding his receivers very effectively. Playoff experience along with momentum are his biggest attributes right now and he’ll need to continue building on his accuracy for the Falcons to have a chance. Note: During last year playoff run Matt Ryan did no thrown any interceptions in 98 passes.
- Nick Foles 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions this year. Best game vs the Giants throwing 4 touchdowns Foles is not afraid of shootout. Foles should look to come out swinging.
- Eagles running back rotation playoff experience goes as Blount 3 years (8 games), Ajayi 1 year (1 game). For Corey Clement a rookie and Wendell Smallwood this will be their first appearance.
- Atlanta’s defense was able to hold offensive juggernauts in Goff and Gurley. They will look to build on that success for this game.
The Decision/ Prediction
Referencing back to the Eagles 34-29 over the Giants. A high scoring game that came right down to the wire with the Giants having possession of the ball for most of the last 3 minutes. The Eagles were victorious, whether it was Eli and the Giants not wanting to give the number 1 pick automatically to the Browns, or some big time stops from the Eagles’ defenders. The Falcons once again seem to be going ahead another young and on the up and coming team. Last week, I did not take in the Falcons experience as a winning factor. This week, I’ll be picking the Falcons as the winners, being that they are familiar in this situation and they’re not taking for granted anything they have accomplished, but are looking towards the future.