Falcons-Eagles: Atlanta Travels to Philadelphia in Matchup of Division Leaders

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2010

Michael Turner will look to have a big day against a defense that has struggled against the run.
Michael Turner will look to have a big day against a defense that has struggled against the run.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have not won in Philadelphia since 1988 and have never won at Lincoln Financial Field.

They have also lost three straight to the Eagles and four out of the last five, including the playoffs.

If there were ever a time to break this trend, it would appear to be this game.

Philadelphia's defense has not been able to stop the run this year, giving up 125.8 yards per game, 24th in the NFL, not good when you're going against the second-best rushing team in the league.

The Falcons are averaging 148.8 rushing yards a game, behind only the New York Jets.  Their closest competitor in the NFC is Minnesota with 131.5 rushing yards per game, ninth overall.

On the bright side for the Eagles, they have the seventh-best scoring offense in the league with 24.4 points a game, although the Falcons have the second-best scoring defense, giving up just 14 points a contest and trailing only Pittsburgh.

Something will have to give in that department.

Early in the season it looked like this game would feature ex-Falcon Michael Vick getting his first start against his former team, but he has been ruled out of the game, making Kevin Kolb the starter.

Vick is trying to heal from a rib-cartilage injury and reports have said that one of his ribs is separated from his sternum, which sounds incredibly painful.

Making matters tough on Kolb and an already shaky offensive line, Jason Peters, who had been Philadelphia's starting left tackle, will miss the game, something John Abraham and the improved Atlanta pass-rush will look to capitalize on.

Abraham has four sacks on the year and the team has 11 as a whole.  Philadelphia has given up 19 sacks in five games, second-worst behind Chicago.

Atlanta's defense has feasted on turnovers in 2010 as they are third in the league with 13 takeaways, including an NFL-high 10 interceptions.

Both teams understand the importance of holding onto the ball as they are both in the top three in terms of fewest giveaways, and are tied for the league lead in turnover differential at plus-seven (seven more takeaways than giveaways).

The winner of that battle on Sunday will likely win the war.

While not many players remain from the Falcons' 2002 and 2004 teams, Philly knocked Atlanta out of the playoffs in both seasons, with the win in 2004 coming in the NFC Championship Game.

Fans, at least, will be looking for some measure of revenge, as will the Falcons front-office.

When the Eagles visited Atlanta last season, a 34-7 Week 13 Philadelphia victory, Falcons management was reportedly not happy about the way Eagles coach Andy Reid used Vick late in the game; feeling as though Reid was basically rubbing him in their faces.

Atlanta would love to make a statement of their own and move to 5-1.