Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Eagles next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Atlanta Falcons.
The Opponent: The Atlanta Falcons, aka the Dirty Birds, aka "Watch how quickly the crowd turns on Matt Ryan after Mike Vick comes home Sunday night".
The Line: Eagles by 2.5. Another week as a road favorite. You Eagles fans had best get used to it. If the Falcons hadn't lost last week, I'm certain that they would have been favored for this game. Speaking of which...
Last Game: A stunning 30-12 beatdown at the hands of the Bears, who were apparently the only ones who didn't get the message that the Bears were supposed to go back to sucking this season. Matt Ryan was sacked five times, picked off once, and lost a fumble. He's had better days.
The Coach: Mike Smith. If you ever got in trouble in a casino, and the pit boss had to drag you by your ear to see his boss, the next guy up the casino power chain, the guy he'd bring you in front of would look like Mike Smith. I don't know why he doesn't demand that everyone call him The Silver Hawk.
The Offense: Well, it was supposed to be good, and then Chicago took it apart with relative ease. I've never been completely sold on Matt Ryan, who does many things well but never seems to do anything jaw-dropping, the way some of his All-Pro counterparts do. This was supposed to be the year Ryan became a dominant player, thanks to the arrival of Julio Jones. And while Jones had nice numbers against the Bears (5 catches for 71 yards), the offense failed to get into the end zone. Part of the problem was that Atlanta fell behind 16-3 at the half, which compelled them to go pass happy and abandon the run, a bad move because Michael Turner had 100 yards on just 10 carries. If Turner had run the ball more, perhaps the Falcons could have gotten back in it. You can bet that the Falcons' coaching staff saw Steven Jackson and Caddy Williams have success versus the Eagles' defense and are already planning on getting Turner the ball a whole lot more.
The Defense: Ray Edwards was brought in this summer to rush the passer but failed to notch a sack against a notoriously thin Bears' o-line. Even though Jay Cutler was sacked four times, he still had plenty of chances to take this pass defense apart. Brent Grimes is a decent corner, but this rest of this secondary can be had. That's bad news against an Eagles team that likes to throw deep more than any other NFL team.
Key Matchup: Jeremy Maclin vs. Dunta Robinson. Grimes will likely draw DeSean Jackson, leaving Maclin to go against the former Texan on the opposite side. The Eagles want to get Maclin the ball more, and this would be a fine place to start. Prepare yourself. Mike Vick is going back to where it all began.