We’re still several days away from the first Divisional Round playoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, but much has been made of the Eagles being the first No. 1 seed ever to be a dog in their opening postseason game. The defending NFC champs are surely going to be confident after disposing of the Rams last week, but they’re going to be in for a war against Philadelphia.
Falcons Playoff History
The Falcons have had a good recent history in the early rounds of the playoffs. They have now won three of their four playoff games in the last two seasons, and each of those victories have come by double digits.
Atlanta is in the Divisional Round for the 10th time in its history. The Falcons lost each of their first three trips into the second round of the playoffs but are 4-5 all-time at this juncture of the second season.
Eagles Playoff History
The Eagles are notorious for never bringing a championship to the City of Brotherly Love. But they haven’t brought any playoff wins home lately either. They’ve lost each of their last four postseason games, including home contests against the Saints in 2014 and the Packers in 2011. Their last postseason win came against the Giants in the 2009 playoffs. Their last win at home in the postseason was three years earlier.
The Eagles have been respectable once they’ve reached this point in the year. They’re 6-6 in the Divisional Round, but they’re 4-0 when those games are played at home.
Why Atlanta Will Beat the Eagles
The Falcons are certainly going to be trendy bets in this game, and it’s because of the way things seemed to come together last week against the Rams. Anyone who watched that game knows that things could have been far worse for Los Angeles. The Falcons settled for four Matt Bryant field goals, including two in a third quarter that was completely dominated by the visitors.
There is no doubting the fact that Matt Ryan is the most important player on the field. He helped his reputation for sure last season when he brought the Falcons to within one miserable quarter of winning a championship, and though his stats weren’t great last week against the Rams, his performance was stellar.
Why Philadelphia Will Beat the Falcons
It’s easy to forget that the Eagles had the No. 4 defense in football this season, allowing 306.5 yards and 18.4 points per game. They have one of the better defensive lines in the league, led by the best tackle pairing in Timmy Jernigan and Fletcher Cox.
The Falcons haven’t had a lot of success this year when they haven’t been able to run the ball. Even though Nick Foles is a huge liability, he doesn’t play defense. Philadelphia had the only team in the NFL to hold teams to fewer than 80 rushing yards per game, and if the Falcons can’t get beyond 100 yards in this one, they’re going to be in some trouble.
Let’s also give some credit to Foles. Sure, he had a terrible game against the Cowboys in Week 17, but there was nothing on the line, and the whole team played like it. His touchdown-to-interception ratio before that point was 5-to-1, and he’s one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL.
Falcons vs. Eagles Prediction
For as good as Carson Wentz was in the regular season, the fact that the oddsmakers think that he’s worth eight or nine points on the betting line is insane. This isn’t just some Joe Schmo who is going to be on the field playing quarterback; we’re only five years removed from Foles throwing for 27 touchdowns against just two picks for these Eagles.
The Falcons just don’t feel right to us. They settle for far too many field goals, and for as great as Julio Jones is, he’s really the only potent weapon in this passing game. If Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are generally neutralized as rushers, Jones won’t be able to do this by himself.
We’ll take the Eagles in an “upset” in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Falcons vs. Eagles Pick: Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 16
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