NFC Playoff Preview: Divisional Round

Atlanta Falcons (11-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

Saturday, January 13 th , 4:35 PM EST.

The Eagles are the NFC’s top seed. They’re sleeping in their own beds and preparing for a home playoff game against the lowest seed still alive in the playoffs. They’ve had an extra week to prepare, rest and recuperate from a season’s worth of collisions.

They’re also home underdogs.

The loss of a starting QB can be almost impossible to overcome, and Nick Foles hasn’t exactly looked like the same guy who posted a 27-2 TD-INT ration in 2013. He looks like a serviceable backup for the most part, but serviceable doesn’t win many playoff games in the NFL, not even at home. He’ll need some help from the Eagles stout rush defense and some push from his offensive line to open lanes. If the ground game with LaGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi can get going, the Eagles will be able to hide some of Foles’ inconsistency. Defensively, the task will be to put the brakes on Julio Jones, who hauled in almost 100 yards and a TD in the Wildcard Weekend matchup with the Rams. It won’t be easy.

The Falcons are coming in hot, and they know it. Every year there’s a wildcard team that’s simply a good team that lost one trap game, or had a slow start. This year, Atlanta is that team. In this case, five of Atlanta’s six losses came against playoff teams. The sixth was against Miami. They should have won that week, and if they had, Atlanta would have been tied with Carolina and New Orleans at 11-5 atop the NFC South. I know it’s hard to look past that six seed, but this is a team that came painfully close to winning the Super Bowl last year, and personnel-wise, hasn’t really changed. Early on this season, the Falcons looked lost, and it’s not surprising. They had collapsed late in the Super Bowl. An immature team, celebrating too early against the greatest QB-coach combo in the history of football. Lessons were learned. Gone was the vibe that the Falcons were unstoppable, and gone was OC Kyle Shanahan, the architect of Matt Ryan’s best season ever. They’ve struggled to regain that form, and while this Falcons team hasn’t dominated, they have won almost every game that they should win.

Will momentum and experience be enough for Atlanta to go into Lincoln Financial Field and come out with a win?

Las Vegas seems to think so.

I don’t.

I think an extra week of practice and cohesion with his teammates will lead to a solid
performance from Nick Foles and the running game of the Eagles will pave the way for an
Eagles home victory. There’s a lot more to this Eagles team than the quarterback under center.
I think we’ll see that on Saturday afternoon.

Image source: twitter.com/eagles

Tom Capo

 

Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.

 

 

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