Sports

NFC Divisional Playoffs: Three things to watch in Falcons v Eagles

NFC Divisional Playoffs: Three things to watch in Falcons v Eagles

Shoot, since 1990 No. 1 seeds had been less than 3-point favorites just four times in their opening playoff game.

Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, which last hosted a playoff game when the Nick Foles-led Eagles fell to the Saints on wild-card weekend 2013. This team is also going against one of the league's top quarterbacks in Philly's own Matt Ryan. He ran for more than 200 yards in three of those games.

Foles said he has used the past two weeks-the Eagles have not played since the final game of the regular season December 31-to conduct a thorough evaluation in the run-up to the matchup with the Falcons. "... This scheme has a certain uniqueness to the coverages they play, but even within that scheme they play it slightly different than everybody else". This week, they have to go against Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.

The Birds are playing at home, at least, and their defense is quite capable of rising to the occasion and taking some of the pressure off of Foles. Sure. Will they? I have no idea. The Eagles love to run him on outside zone plays, especially to the left side. "So, that's something I think we always talk about, and obviously you could see it in that game against Kansas City". I'm expecting a low-scoring game, so I'll grab the points and take my chances. Atlanta has playoff experience and a loaded offense, while Nick Foles has been unimpressive in his final two games of the season. Every drive ended in a punt except for the one where there was an interception.

Can they keep it up as they head on the road again Saturday to Philadelphia? More important, no snowstorm has been predicted. Both Francis and Eagles defensive back Herm Edwards appeared to come down with the ball, but it was ruled a Falcons catch - and it would prove to be a game-changer.

Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles will make his second playoff start against the Falcons.

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The Eagles entered this year's postseason as the NFC's No. 1 seed and there's no question that Carson Wentz was an integral part of that success. The Falcons scored 14 fourth-quarter points for the victory in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Atlanta is 10-13 all-time in the playoffs, including 0-2 in Super Bowls. The total has gone under in nine of the Falcons' last 12 games against the Eagles. But he followed that up with a completion percentage of 46.9 and a passer rating of 48.2 in two ugly performances to wrap up the regular season. This alone could give the Eagles an advantage.

"It takes time for quarterbacks to get into a rhythm", said right tackle Lane Johnson. The Eagles outgained the Falcons, 362-202 behind the play of Donovan McNabb.

The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win previous year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. TE Levine Toilolo (knee) was a full participant.

Gagnon writes Alford outplayed Desmond Trufant and Keanu Neal in the Falcons secondary Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams.


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