Jon Ritchie’s Eagles Divisional Round Primer: Here’s how Philadelphia can beat Atlanta with Nick Foles under center
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons picks and predictions
Falcons at Eagles, 4:35 p.m., TV channel (we’ll add)
Line: Falcons -3; Over/Under: 41
The Philadelphia Eagles are underdogs against the Falcons in their own house and they’re loving it.
As a player, I only expected to win, every time I took the field. Failure was not only impossible– I was completely, willingly blind to the concept. I understand how these Eagles are indignant that they’re not favored, despite the #1 seed in the NFC. They’re missing one guy, right? Problem is, that guy is QB Carson Wentz who was going to be the NFL MVP had he not been injured.
I played on five playoff teams. Two of those teams tried to play and win without our starting QB in the playoffs. Both teams lost in that endeavor.
Playmakers and game-changers
Eagles backup QB Nick Foles has not been good lately. After inspired performances against the Rams and Giants, he’s seemingly lost his mojo. Can Doug Pederson find it? I’m confident in Pederson’s ability to customize Philadelphia’s passing offense to feature looks and plays that Foles feels confident about. He’ll have to make some swaggery throws if the Eagles are to advance to the NFC Championship.
The Falcons run with two tailbacks, but they prefer to pound it inside with Devonta Freeman. Can the Eagles run defense stop the Atlanta onslaught? The Falcons thrive when they feature great run/pass balance. Freeman runs harder than any back his size should. Awesome to watch. Fearless.
How the Eagles win?
Run Jay Ajayi. 20+ times. Stop saving his body and point him at the goalposts. Ajayi is the type of back who can own a game if given carry volume. And the Eagles inexplicably have refused to do that. It’s now or never– Ajayi can win this game if Doug Pederson lets him.
How the Falcons win?
The Falcons defense has looked crazy-fast this season. Unreal athletes playing in a straightforward system where they don’t have to think– they just react and make plays. If our receivers struggle to get separation in their routes, QB Nick Foles will balk at pushing the ball downfield. Atlanta can blanket receivers to shut this Eagle offense down, especially if Foles gets off to a slow start and struggles with his confidence.
Ritchie’s pick: Eagles 17, Falcons 13