Friday, 16 November, 2018

Are The Suspect Eagles Ready For The Battle-Tested Falcons?

Kristopher Love | 13 January, 2018, 05:28

After weeks of waiting, the Philadelphia Eagles will finally participate in their first playoff game on Saturday with the Atlanta Falcons coming to town for what should be an intense Divisional Round battle.

Sunday: Jaguars vs. Steelers at 1:05 p.m. (alson on CBS) and Saints vs. Vikings at 4:40 p.m.

The Eagles are the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but Vegas has them listed as underdogs in this matchup with the Falcons.

For long-time fans of the Dirty Birds, the team's win last weekend over the Los Angeles Rams had to be extremely refreshing.

The visiting Falcons will bring plenty of momentum and postseason experience to Philly. But the Eagles - the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the first time since 2004 - don't have the luxury of time. That marked the fifth consecutive playoff game in which he posted a triple-digit passer rating, giving Ryan the third-highest playoff passer rating in National Football League history.

Wentz tore his anterior cruciate ligament on December 10 and has been out since, and the Eagles offense has struggled with Nick Foles at the helm.

Last week, the Falcons capitalized on a lot of errors and played one of their best games of the season, looking every bit like the team that went to the Super Bowl past year. Philadelphia's Doug Pederson makes playoff debut as head coach.

"My message to Nick is: 'Listen, we have a great opportunity, '" Pederson said. Just go be Nick. I mean, it goes well beyond a player like Julio Jones.

The Eagles need only look under center to see why they are suddenly seen as longshots. No one expects this to be a game. In fact, when Jay Ajayi was still playing for the Dolphins, he broke tackle after tackle against the Atlanta defense.

Atlanta has a tremendous defense, which is giving up only 104.1 yards per game on the ground. He is 1-3 as a pro in the same city he played his high school ball in at posh Penn Charter. The Falcons are a different, one might say more battled-tested team this time around. He's aggressive in his mindset, as aggressive a guy as I've been around. You'll see. And for the doubters, they can climb on board, too. "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but at the same time this team, the coaching staff, we know the kind of work we put in day in and day out". All while mentioning how scary the Falcons' defense was with Deion Jones in the middle (whom he compared to Derrick Brooks) and the unit's speed, that game information was overshadowed by Reese's first comment of the interview. He went 8-2 as a starter, including a 49-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders in which he threw for 406 yards and seven touchdowns. The biggest thing for the Eagles secondary is to keep him from drawing so much attention away from the others which will allow fellow wideouts such as Taylor Gabriel or Mohamed Sanu to have an even bigger immpact. They've also significantly improved their run defense, going from 17th last year to 9th this year.