The Falcons struggled throughout part of the year after making the Super Bowl last season. In fact, they had to win three out of their last four games just to make the postseason.
Atlanta then went to the L.A. Coliseum and pulled off an upset against the Rams in the Wild Card round.
Philadelphia will host this game at Lincoln Financial field after an excellent regular season that saw them earn the No. 1 seed. The Eagles would be favored under normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances, because quarterback Carson Wentz injured his knee in December.
Philly will be an underdog on their homefield. Can they use the home crowd’s energy to win and advance to the NFC Championship? Let’s discuss the matter below and look at the GTBets odds on this game.
2018 NFL Playoff Odds for Falcons Eagles (Jan 13 at 4:35pm ET)
Atlanta Philadelphia Point Spread
Falcons -3 (-105)
Eagles +3 (-115)
Atlanta Philadelphia Moneyline
Over 41 (-115)
Under 41 (-105)
Key Factors for Atlanta (11-6)
Atlanta was pretty banged up coming into the playoffs. But receiver Julio Jones, running back Devonta Freeman, and center Alex Mack made it through the Wild Card contest without any further setbacks.
The Falcons defense is rounding into form. They’ve quietly become one of the league’s better units after a supposed Super Bowl (appearance) hangover.
This defense is allowing just 16.3 points per game in its last six contests. And this includes games against strong offenses like Carolina, New Orleans, and L.A.
Dan Quinn will likely load the box with eight man to shut down the Eagles’ run game. Meanwhile, he’ll dare quarterback Nick Foles to beat Atlanta.
LB Deion Jones (10 tackles) and cornerbacks Robert Alford, Brian Poole and Desmond Trufant all played really well against the Rams. They should do equally well with Foles passing the ball.
Ryan hasn’t been winning games by himself this season, as evidenced by how he doesn’t have a single three-TD game in 2018. He also looks out of sync with receivers in Steve Sarkisian’s offensive scheme.
Nevertheless, Ryan did have a decent game in L.A., with 218 passes yards, one TD, and no turnovers. Atlanta could really use another round of mistake-free football from him against the Eagles.
Odds are that the Falcons will be riding the tailback tandem of Freeman and Tevin Coleman in this one. Both players combined to wear down the Rams and will look to do the same against Philly’s lineman.
Nobody is expecting Atlanta to walk in and blow out the Eagles. But they certainly have the advantage on paper. If the defense comes through again and Ryan avoids crippling mistakes, this team will be one step closer to another Super Bowl chance.
Key Factors for Philadelphia (13-3)
The entire Philadelphia roster needs to step up in the absence of Wentz. He was a leading MVP candidate before tearing his ACL. Now, the team will rely on Foles to take over the position.
Foles tossed four touchdowns against the Giants as Wentz’s Week 15 replacement. But he’s played terribly since, completing just 47% of his passes en route to the team scoring 16 points in the last nine quarters.
The Eagles defense will need to pick up the slack. They ranked fourth in points and yardage allowed, but have been inconsistent recently. They allowed 88 points from Weeks 14-16, then just 16 over the past two games.
Philly needs to keep up the trend over the last two contests and put pressure on Ryan. This talented front seven also needs to do everything they can to slow down Coleman and Freeman.
The Eagles’ offense will move based on how the running game performs. LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement form a deep backfield that can help control the game.
Philly’s formula for winning involves playing strong defense and controlling the game tempo by running.
Prediction on Atlanta vs Philadelphia
The Falcons aren’t playing as well as last season on account of their offense. But Ryan and Co. have been good enough to win games lately. Furthermore, they’re much better than the Eagles with Foles running the show.
Both teams bring strong defenses to the table, especially Philadelphia. But the problem for Philly is that Atlanta’s offense is just good enough to move the ball efficiently.
That said, I look for the Falcons to win this one by at least a touchdown. The Eagles, on the other hand, will struggle greatly to move the ball.
Final Score Prediction: Atlanta 24, Philadelphia 16 – Falcons cover -3