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NFC Game Of The Week

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

Falcons: It was definitely a different season for the 2016 NFC Champions last year. First, their offense lacked the explosiveness that we saw when they won the NFC and went to the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan just looked a little too timid in the pocket, Julio struggled after having such a big year the previous season, but my biggest takeaway from them was how they abandoned getting Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman involved within the offense. In my opinion, those are the biggest difference makers and I think defenses tend to forget about them because of all the attention that Julio commands. Their offense has a chance to be one of the best in the league this year after drafting Calvin Ridley from Alabama and honestly, this could be the best offensive arsenal that Matt will have in his career and there are no excuses at this point, he must succeed after signing the contract extension he did this off-season. Dan Quinn’s specialty has been defense and since taking the head coaching job, they’ve improved considerably on the defensive side of the football and gave up only 19 points a game in 2017. They’ve improved at stopping the run and they’ve shown as a unit that they can turn on the physicality and the playoff game in Los Angeles is the perfect example of that. They’ve improved in the secondary and each guy stays in their lane. In a wide-open NFC, the Falcons can still be one of the best teams in the NFC and they will begin their season where it ended eight months ago, in Philadelphia.

Eagles: What a season they had in 2017. It really took me a while for me to become sold on them, but I’m glad I did and when I did. They were the best team in the NFL, the top seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record and won the NFC Championship for the first time since 2005 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 seasons. When they got there, they embraced it all and bought home their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. What I really enjoyed while watching them was how they played, but they had fun while winning football games. I loved the dancing and team celebrations although some teams didn’t and as I always say, if you don’t want them dancing, don’t let them score! Plain and simple. If Carson Wentz doesn’t tear his ACL, he’s the league’s most valuable player. He was destroying defenses left and right and week in and out. It’s been quite the off-season for the defending champs. They traded away Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers and bought in veteran receiver Mike Wallace to replace him which was a really good move for the offense. Their defense lost Vinnie Curry and Beau Allen, but bought in Haloti Ngata and acquired Michael Bennett from the Seahawks. The defensive line was the strength of this team last year and everything will have to go right for them to play at that level once again. It’s always tough to keep your championship core intact after winning one. This season will be determined on how healthy Wentz really is and the defensive line was also a big strength to their success in 2017 and if they want to get back to that level of success, they have to do everything right and all will fall into place. Football is back and all eyes will be on South Philadelphia tonight as the Eagles take the field as the defending champions.

Falcons Player To Watch: Grady Jarrett– He’s one of the underrated guys not just on this defense, but in the league. He’s a guy that bulldozes his way to the ball-carrier and can get after the quarterback. I’ve seen him chase quarterbacks out of the pocket and still get to them to make the play. He’s also solid when it comes to stopping the run and slowing down Ajayi will start with him tonight.

Eagles Player To Watch: Michael Bennett– He leaves one elite defense and joins another. He doesn’t have to be the guys that the Eagles lost in the off-season, he just has to play his game and everything will pan out for him. He and Chris Long will both anchor this front seven.

Final Analysis: The scene in Philadelphia will be rocking. For years, they’ve been the subject of jokes when it comes to not winning a championship. All of that is finally over and the banner will be raised, then it’s time to put the title to defense. When these two met in the playoffs, it was a close game and the Eagles defense kept a prolific Atlanta offense to ten points. The Eagles biggest game plan will be trying to contain the two-headed monster of Freeman and Coleman. Julio is going to get his whether you double or triple team him. The Eagles also need to get their running game going and control the clock. I’m attacking the Eagles secondary if I’m Atlanta and the offensive line will have to be prepared to play this Jim Schwartz coached defense because of all the exotic looks and schemes he runs.

Prediction:Falcons28 Eagles 20