Week 8 Preview: Eagles-Falcons

Steve Van ScoyContributor IOctober 22, 2008

In Week 8, the 4-2 Atlanta Falcons visit the 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles.  The Falcons have had a surprisingly fast start with Matt Ryan playing like a seasoned pro and Michael Turner proving he is more than capable of being a starting NFL running back. 

The Eagles are fresh off a week 7 bye that couldn't have come at a more perfect time.  They were inconsistent primarily because of devastating injuries before the bye.  But the team expects RB Brian Westbrook to return to action as well as receivers Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis.

Lets breakdown the match ups:
Falcons Offense v.s. Eagles Defense
Matt Ryan has been a very capable starter so far this season with 1,164 yards passing and five touchdowns.  But Jim Johnson figures to bring a lot of pressure and force the rookie to make some bad decisions.  The Eagles defense had done a great job shutting down teams' number 1 wide outs.  This bodes well for them if they can shut down Roddy White who's 35 catches account for more than a third of all completed passes this season.  The Falcons will likely be forced to turn to the running game to move down field.  Turner is near the top of the league with 597 yards rushing while the Eagles boast the 9th best rush defense.

Eagles Offense v.s. Falcons Defense
The Eagles return many of there offensive weapons this week with Westbrook, Curtis, and Brown all back from injury.  The Falcons rank 25th in the league in overall defense so this could be a major advantage for an Eagle team that has been explosive at times this season.  The Falcons secondary should have trouble defending the long pass plays.  Look for DeSean Jackson to make a big play or two.  However, the Falcons have allowed the 12th fewest points of any team in the league and the Eagles have had trouble scoring in the red zone.  So, if the Falcons can hold the Eagles to field goals, they will be able to hang around in the game. 

Key Matchup: Michael Turner v.s. Eagles Run Defense
Three weeks ago this would have been considered a major advantage for the Eagles when they led the league in rushing yards against per game.  But the defense has been torched by Clinton Portis and Frank Gore the past two weeks.  Which defense will show up?  The answer will go a long way toward deciding the outcome of the game.  If Turner is able to move the chains and control the clock, the Falcons will likely come away victorious.  If he is unable to find any room, it will be a long day for QB Matt Ryan.

Eagles 27 Falcons 17
Look for the Eagles to capitalize on a suspect Falcons secondary with a couple big plays over the top.  Matt Ryan will be pressured into making a couple key mistakes and the eagles will do enough against Michael Turner.  Eagles have comfortable lead throughout in victory.