5 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Eagles Will Beat the Atlanta Falcons
Sunday night is a huge game for both the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. Philadelphia has very high expectations for the 2011 seasons, and Atlanta is a good early test. The Falcons are coming off a very disappointing loss in Chicago last week, and they need to rebound.
This will be the type of game that will give Eagles fans an idea of just how good this team is right now. The talent is there, but with so many new players we don't know if the chemistry is or not. They looked good last week but still have a lot to work to do.
Michael Vick Will Have a Career Game
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Atlanta was and is still a special place for Michael Vick, having spent the first six years of his career there. And even though he didn't leave on the best of terms, the fans still have nothing but love for him.
Vick has said that Sunday night's game is nothing more than a "business trip," but you have to think that he would love to put on a show in his former home. He is still a team-first-type of player, but his adrenaline will be pumping as he makes his first start in Atlanta since 2006.
Looking like he has gotten in even better shape from last season, Vick ran for 97 yards and threw for another 187 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Rams. He looked even more elusive than he did in his younger days in Atlanta.
Vick appeared to have some first game jitters that may have caused some forced throws early in against the Rams. Look for a much calmer Vick to post some big numbers in his first start in the Georgia Dome since 2006.
The Eagles' Receivers Will Have a Big Day
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The Falcons' secondary has been a major issues lately. Last season they had four games in which they gave up over 300 passing yards, including 385 yards to the Cincinnati Bengals. Additionally, they gave up 346 passing yards in the playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
This season hasn't started any differently. The Falcons gave up 312 yards through the air to Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears, as four different players tallied at least 50 yards receiving. The Bears don't have quite the weapons the Eagles do.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin could have a big day against a struggling secondary, especially on turf. Look for Vick to challenge their secondary early with a deep ball much like the Eagles did last season against the Redskins.
The Eagles moved Jackson all over the field last week, hiding him in a bunch formations on one side of the field while putting tight end Brent Celek out wide the other side.
Look for the Eagles to move Jackson all over the field to try and confuse the Falcons secondary early and often.
Last Two Meetings
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The last two seasons have matched up these two teams in the regular season and neither game has gone the Falcons way. The Eagles have outscored Atlanta 65-24 in the last two games including last year's 31-17 score where Vick was out with a rib injury.
The last two games will be key for both teams. Has Atlanta learned from their previous two failures against the Eagles or does Philadelphia just matchup too perfectly with Atlanta?
This will be the Eagles third different starting quarterback in the last three games against the Falcons. The previous two were Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. All three quarterbacks pose a different kind of threat. Atlanta will now have to prepare for a quarterback who is as dangerous a runner is a passer.
The Falcons struggled to contain the passing game and the last two meetings, giving up just 597 passing yards. This year will be even tougher going up against an MVP candidate with more weapons on offense then the Eagles have had in the previous two meetings.
The Eagles offense will go into Atlanta with the confidence that they can consistently move the football against the Falcons defense as they have for two straight seasons.
The Eagles Have a Very Deep Secondary
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Atlanta has a pretty good receiving core. The problem for them is that the Eagles have the deepest secondary in football. Anytime Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is your third best corner and Asante Samuel is just your second best, then your team has good depth in the secondary.
Matt Ryan will have the daunting task of completing passing down the field against the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha and Samuel. Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas are a good trio of wide outs, but can they make plays against a Pro Bowl secondary?
White will be a huge factor and deciding the outcome of Sunday night's game. He had just 61 yards on eight catches against the Bears. In order for the Falcons to beat the Eagles, he has to put up much bigger numbers to open things up for the rest of the offense.
Another so so game from Roddy White could spell dome for the Falcons and lead to an 0-2 start to the 2011 season.
The Eagles Pass Rush
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The Eagles' pass rush was critical to securing an easy win against the Rams last Sunday. The defensive linemen led the way with five sacks, one forced fumble and recovery, while scoring one touchdown. The Eagles used eight different linemen which allowed a fresher front four to wreak havoc on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford all day long.
The Eagles should have similar success against the Falcons, who gave up five sacks last week against Chicago. The Eagles may not have a Julius Peppers, but they have a lot more depth than the Bears and they use every active linemen on their roster. Matt Ryan should be pressured by eight different linemen throughout Sunday night's affair.
Expect the Eagles pass rush to make a statement early in this game. The Falcons offense is based on timing and getting rid of the ball in a hurry. The pass rush will most likely be the biggest factor in deciding which of these teams will be one of the early NFC favorite to go along with the Green Bay Packers.