Philadelphia Eagles Have Little Chance to Beat Atlanta Falcons Sunday Night
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I don't understand how the Philadelphia Eagles are a three-point favorite on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.
Don't buy into Atlanta's 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears and pay little attention to the 31-13 beat down handed out by Philadelphia against the St. Louis Rams.
The two events are independent and will have almost no significance when the Eagles travel to the Georgia Dome for a primetime game on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
The Falcons went into Chicago and ran the ball four times on the opening drive to tie the score at 3-3. They went into panic mode the rest of the game and ran the ball 10 more times. It resulted in Atlanta handing off the rock 14 times against 47 passes.
Punch in 47 divided by 61 real quick. Yep, you got that right answer. The Falcons threw the ball 77 percent of the time.
I think we can all agree the Falcons are not going to implement an offense that dials up the pass nearly eight out of 10 plays due in large part to the strength of the Eagles' defense residing in the secondary thanks to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel.
It makes perfect sense for the Falcons to run the ball against a defense that allowed 154 yards rushing against the Rams, which included 91 yards to Cadillac Williams on 19 carries and 56 yards to Steven Jackson on two attempts.
Perhaps the gaping hole in the Eagles' defensive line caused Jackson to get a little too excited and it caused him to strain his right quadriceps as he went into the end zone on a 47-yard touchdown. I don't even want to know what the 240-pound running back would have done to the Eagles' undersized front seven if he played the rest of the game.
I'm terrified thinking about what Atlanta's Michael Turner will do the defensive front. The eight-year pro from Northern Illinois weighs in at 247 pounds and is every bit of a physical runner as Jackson. An offense focused on running the football could spell lights-out for the Eagles and cause widespread panic.
You can lie to yourself and think Atlanta will still lean heavily on the pass, but you would need ignore the reason why Atlanta decided to throw the ball.
After Atlanta's opening drive, the next four possession ended with a pick, a fumble a three-and-out and a five-play drive that moved the ball 30 yards. It resulted in the Bears having pretty good field position and a 16-3 halftime lead.
OK, a 13-point deficit is not insurmountable. But when Atlanta found themselves in a 23-6 hole with about 22 minutes remaining in the game they put Turner on the shelf and ran the ball one more time.
I find it hard to believe the Atlanta Falcons will trail by that large of a margin at home where they are 20-2 under Matt Ryan and abandon the running game. And yes, I know the Eagles bottled up Turner for 45 yards on 15 carries last year. The game, however, was at the Linc.
I can't explain why the Falcons are so much better on their home turf, but it just works out that way for them.
I remember the Green Bay Packers went into the Georgia Dome and rolled the Falcons 48-21 in the divisional round of the playoffs last year on their way to winning the Super Bowl. But do you really think this Eagles offense is as good as the Packers?
Before you try to go off on a statistical analysis look at the Eagles' offensive line.
How many times do Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Kyle DeVan need to get beat before Michael Vick and LeSean can't bail them out?
Don't forget the Falcons have John Abraham at right defensive end and Ray Edwards, who was high on most Eagles fans wish list, as the defensive end on the left side.
I was even thinking about how Vick went into Lambeau Field and ended the Packers' 11-0 record at Lambeau Field in the postseason. If he found a way to beat Brett Favre at one of the most historical sites in the NFL, he should be able to find a way to handle a young quarterback in a dome.
It's a fair point to consider. But when you look at what happened to Favre, the game marked the beginning of his decline in postseason play.
Favre went on to lose two more games at Lambeau Field against two wins. He, along with the venue began to lose its mystique.
I think it's a little too early to say the same about Ryan and his covered artificial playing surface.
I could also sprinkle in the cliche line of the Atlanta Falcons desperately needing this game and how they can't lose two straight games to start the year. The desperation factor has to be considered a little, but don't go overboard and think the Falcons have to win because of their desire to avoid an 0-2 start. The Falcons don't have to do anything.
This game is not about the intangibles or trends. Its not about the public perception of the previous games, which has inflated the line in Vegas.
This game is all about the Falcons exploiting an inexperienced offensive line and an undersized defensive front seven on the Eagles. And unfortunately for Eagles fans, this game is going to be about how the Falcons dominate.
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