South Philly Bird Brawl

NFC Divisional Playoffs

(6) Atlanta Falcons at (1) Philadelphia Eagles

Falcons: The other day when I received a question about them, I compared them to a boxer late in a fight because when you think you’ve punched them and knocked them out, they always find a way to stand up and keep themselves alive just once more. Last week’s win in Los Angeles was the best I’ve seen the Atlanta Falcons in quite some time. They had everything going for them, the offense was balanced and the trio of Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and, Julio Jones were all productive. Julio caught nine passes for 94 yards, Freeman had 66 yards rushing and a touchdown run and Matt threw for 218 yards passing and one touchdown pass. What really impressed me was their defense because they truly set the tone of the game and established the physical nature in their favor. I haven’t seen the Falcons look this complete all around in quite some time and their gameplan was really simple heading into Los Angeles and that was load up the box, take Todd Gurley away and force the game into the hands of Jared Goff and they executed their game plan perfectly. I also stated before the game that the Falcons would enter the playoffs with a chip on their shoulder because they have been the subject of jokes and memes for almost a year now after what happened in Super Bowl 51. The defending NFC Champs will now travel to Philadelphia for a showdown with the Eagles.

Eagles: Here’s just how unpredictable the NFC East is. Coming into the 2017 season, the Cowboys were projected to win the division and they ran the East once again after such a successful 2016 season with Dak and Zeke, the Giants were expected to be up there as well as a contender not just in the division, but the NFC after signing Brandon Marshall, the Redskins and Eagles were both projected to be battling for the basement of the division. Let’s look at everything now, the Cowboys missed the playoffs this year, the Giants were an embarrassment and the Redskins, well they were the Redskins. The Eagles at one point were the hottest team in the league and they went the entire months of October and November without a loss and during that span, they only allowed one touchdown. For the first time since 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles won the division and here they are as the top seed in the NFC. Everything was rolling and they even had the projected favorite to win the league MVP in Carson Wentz until he went down with a torn ACL and he was lost for the rest of the season. The Eagles chances now of getting to the Super Bowl will now rely on Nick Foles, a guy who knows Doug Pedersen very well. When Chip Kelly was the team’s head coach, Doug was their offensive coordinator and the Eagles drafted Foles in 2013. He came in and threw 27 touchdown passes and threw only two interceptions all year. When Pedersen was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Foles was the backup quarterback and now, he’s back with the Eagles. To advance to their first NFC Title game since 2009, they will need to bring down the Falcons.

Falcons Player To Watch: Desmond Trufant– He was injured last year during the playoffs and last week, he made a huge difference in the game last week. He’s their best cornerback and it’s always key to have your number one guys on the field around this time of the year. I compared his return to Bob Sanders returning for the Colts in 2006 when they went on their run. One guy can truly impact the entire defense.

Eagles Player To Watch: Timmy Jernigan– The Eagles have been one of the best defenses all season long under their defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. Their front four has been consistent for most of the season and they’ve also been one of the best units in the league allowing 18 points per game. With Brandon Graham questionable with a knee injury, the guy from Florida State will be counted on quite a bit. He’s a great run stopper, but he can also come up the middle and get to the quarterback.

Final Analysis: What a way to kick off the second round of the NFL Playoffs. This is exactly why the Eagles went out and made the trade with the Dolphins to acquire Jay Ajayi. You also have Blount, both of them are game changers. To take pressure off of Nick Foles, I’d establish the ground game. Defensively, you have to cover each of these Falcons weapons up on the line. For the Falcons, the tandem of Freeman and Coleman need to be ready for a heavy workload. It doesn’t matter what the conditions will be, they should be able to handle the cold and the Falcons will try to shut down another running game and make Foles beat them.

Prediction: Falcons 26 Eagles 21