Can the Falcons win another playoff game on the road against the Carson Wentz-less Eagles?
The Philadelphia Eagles are the top seed in the NFC, but they’re a much different team without Carson Wentz, who was injured late in the regular season and won’t be participating in the playoffs. They will play their first matchup of the postseason on Saturday as they host the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round.
Saturday’s game is set for 4:35 p.m. ET on NBC (live stream).
The Falcons are coming off a solid Wild Card Round win over the Los Angeles Rams. Atlanta won that game on the road, and they’ll have to win two more as they are the sixth seed in the NFC.
In the win, Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown while being sacked three times. The Falcons rushed for 124 yards as a team, 66 of them coming from Devonta Freeman. Julio Jones had a great day, as usual, with nine receptions on 10 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Falcons looked good, holding the Rams to 13 points and allowing Jared Goff to complete just over 50 percent of his passes with only the one touchdown. The Rams lost a pair of fumbles, and that was the turning point for the Falcons.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, is well rested after getting a bye for the Wild Card Round. They are the top seed in the conference, but they are without Wentz at quarterback, a major concern. Wentz can keep up with Ryan and handle the Atlanta defense.
Nick Foles, on the other hand, will have his hands full. He played in the final three games of the regular season, throwing for five touchdowns and two interceptions. He went 4 for 11 for a paltry 39 yards and an interception in a Week 17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys where he was replaced by Nate Sudfeld, but is expected to start against the Falcons.
The Eagles have a long way to go, and they have to do it without Wentz.
- The Eagles have signs posted all around their team facilities reminding them that they are actually underdogs despite being the top seed in the NFC. This is, of course, due to the lack of Wentz. Those signs should motivate them pretty well.
- To keep the motivation train going, Doug Pederson is also having Eagles players with Super Bowl rings speak to the team leading up to the game.
- If Foles is to find success against the Falcons, the Eagles need him to be more aggressive, at least according to the folks at Bleeding Green Nation.
Expecting Foles to play lights out in the playoffs just isn’t realistic. The Eagles can’t just count on him to carry the team. Philadelphia really needs to rely on Jay Ajayi and the run game. Jim Schwartz’s defense REALLY needs to continue to be a lockdown unit at home.
But Foles can’t play super conservative and scared. He needs to give this team a chance to make some big plays in the passing game. The hope is he recognizes the difference between aggressive and reckless.
- On the other hand, if the Falcons want to win, what they need is for their starting field position to improve dramatically. Ryan has to begin far too many drives from awful field position.
The Eagles have a truly fearsome defense keyed by one of the league’s most imposing defensive lines, and thus the Falcons are going to have to fight even harder than usual to push down the field. The more drives that start from the 15 or even 10 yard line versus the 25 or even further downfield, the more acute that struggle is going to become. This is a game where every yard and every point is probably going to matter unless Nick Foles completely implodes, so it’ll be incumbent on the return game to make smart decisions and avoid penalties.
- The folks over at The Falcoholic asked the question: What will the Eagles get out of Foles against the Falcons? From their perspective, there are some concerns, but it’s definitely preferable to playing against Wentz.
- Also at The Falcoholic, they took a deep dive on Ryan’s history and his ability to perform in multiple schemes. That makes him an incredibly versatile offensive weapon.