The Eagles learned who their opponent would be last Saturday night as the Falcons upset the Rams in LA. While the coaching staff has been preparing a game plan catered to Nick Foles’ strengths, Eagles fans had their eyes on the rest of the thrilling wild-card matchups last week. Searching for their first playoff victory since January 11th, 2009, Philadelphia will need to slow down the high-octane offense of Atlanta. Here is the crew’s predictions for the game:
TYLER EDGERTON (14-2)
Philadelphia has been doubted all week, No, no – for the past month. Former players, analysts, even hometown fans have doubted the Eagles chances this weekend… and I must admit I am one of them. While the team is most certainly up to the task of being an underdog at home as the number one seed, having the firepower to eliminate a team that was humiliated in the Super Bowl just a year ago seems a bit steep of a mission.
The way the Eagles need to win this game comes down to three things. One- continuing to run the ball under center, allowing their backs to get a head start and see the hole in a fast but smaller sized defense of the Falcons. Two – play to their strengths as a football team. This includes controlling time of possession, winning in the trenches, and communicating on defense. And finally, winning the turnover battle. I know this sounds cliche but forcing mistakes will shift the momentum in the stadium and the Eagles have thrived on this all season. When one side of the ball struggles, the other has picked it up. On a windy Saturday in Lincoln financial field and on the backs of their running back duo, the Falcons squeak out of Philly with a win.
Final Prediction: Eagles 20, Falcons 23
MATTHEW SCOTT (14-2)
Nothing out of the ordinary here this week for the Eagles other than the fact their MVP candidate quarterback in Carson Wentz is hurt. This will be a reasonably cold playoff game in Philadelphia where the Falcons (who play in a dome) will have to adjust to the conditions. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is 1-3 at the Linc. With that said, I do not believe these things will matter much come game-time. If the Eagles want to have any shot at the first number one seeded underdog in history, they need to run the ball a ton and be stout on defense. I see it being a lot closer then many experts think, but the Atlanta offense led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonte Freeman will come out victorious in a close one.
Final Prediction: Eagles 13, Falcons 20
TYLAR POMROY (12-4)
It’s quite the coincidence how bad the Eagles offense has looked leading up to this divisional matchup against the Falcons. Wentz has only been out for three weeks of football but it has felt like an eternity. While Nick Foles will be returning to the playoffs as an Eagle for the first time since 2013, he’s going to need to change up his game moving forward. Though he certainly wasn’t’ given enough time to make up for his poor passes in the Dallas game, he’s also had plenty of time to work on his confidence. The team can’t continue to rely on everything being produced by the defense so they’re going to have to establish a running game early and the Foles-Ertz connection needs to be there.
Foles needs to build off the mistakes made against Dallas in order for the team to advance. Defense wins championships in football but you also need to score. With Sidney Jones currently questionable to play, it will be interesting to see how the matchups will play out on the outside. There’s a pretty good chance that the Philly defense will be able to capitalize off of Matt Ryan this game. Expect a low-scoring game against Atlanta and pray that Julio Jones is off his game. This one could very well come down to confidence and that might mean Jake Elliott converting on a short field goal.
Final Prediction: Eagles 17, Falcons 14
JOHN PURIFICATO (12-4)
The Eagles closed out the regular season with more doubts then hope after two lackluster performances by QB Nick Foles. Now the Atlanta Falcons stand in the way of an NFC Championship game coming to the Linc. The Falcons shut down the Rams running game last week making them one dimensional and playing a major key to victory. Expect them to put 8 in the box against the Eagles to try and stop the run again this week. Offensively, Matt Ryan will look to get WR Julio Jones involved early and often. The Eagles defense must knock Ryan off his spot early or he will pick the Eagles secondary apart. Just like they have done all year, shutting down the run game is the key for the Eagles against a great backfield for Atlanta. The crowd will play a big part in this game, and reports of the temperature dropping at kickoff is another good sign. I believe Coach Pederson used this bye to put in a great game plan, and the Eagles D shows up like they have done at home all year en route to a 7-1 record. Eagles move on to the NFC Championship.
Final Prediction: Eagles 24, Falcons 16
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