Eagles-Falcons Divisional Round Predictions - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Eagles-Falcons Divisional Round Predictions

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    Eagles-Falcons Divisional Round Predictions
    CSNPhilly.com
    Eagles-Falcons divisional round predictions

    Playoff football is back in Philadelphia.

    And just like last time, Nick Foles is under center.

    If the top-seeded Eagles want to make a run at the Super Bowl, it will be with Foles leading the way after he served as backup to Carson Wentz until Week 15.

    Saturday marks the Eagles' first postseason game since 2013, when Foles was the starter and the team bowed out in the wild-card round to the Saints.

    With a bye this season, the Eagles welcome the Falcons to Lincoln Financial Field for a divisional round matchup (4:35 p.m. on NBC).

    Can the Eagles still make this season special? Or was Wentz's ACL injury the true beginning of the end?

    Our experts provide their Eagles-Falcons predictions:

    Reuben Frank (14-2)
    It's not about who has the best quarterback. It's about who has the best team. And I believe in the Eagles' defense, I believe in their running game, I believe in their special teams, I believe in their ability to win close games at home in the final minutes. The Eagles' defense has allowed 11 touchdowns all year at the Linc. Four of those came on a short field, when the other team had to drive 55 yards or less, or just past midfield. Of the seven remaining drives, two came with the Eagles up 30 or more points late in a blowout win with a lot of subs in the game.

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    That means opposing offenses had FIVE DRIVES ALL YEAR where they drove more than 55 yards against the Eagles' starting defense. That's impressive. If it was Matt Ryan vs. Nick Foles I'd pick the Falcons. But it's a team game, and I think the Eagles win this thing and get to the NFC Championship Game.

    So we'll go Eagles 23, Falcons 17. I feel good about this one.

    Dave Zangaro (13-3)
    Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I should just look at the last five quarters and think it's a no-brainer. Of course the Eagles aren't going to win with Foles at quarterback. 

    But every time I think this team is dead, it comes back to life. Every time it suffered a serious injury, it somehow found a way to keep things going. Losing Wentz was monumental. There's no way around it. And if he was playing in this game, the Eagles would probably be seven-point favorites. 

    I just think they find a way to get it done. This Falcons team isn't the same squad that went to the Super Bowl last year. This team can't seem to score at the same rate, so I think the Eagles' defense, playing at home, will be able to win. And Foles will do just enough. 

    I think there's an NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia next week. 

    Eagles 20, Falcons 17

    Derrick Gunn (13-3)
    The defending NFC champion Falcons backed their way into the playoffs, and then last weekend made an impressive postseason showing on the road against the Rams. But this isn't the high-powered Falcons offense that averaged 33 points per game in 2016. In 2017, with basically the same personnel, it struggled to average 22 points. But the difference this season, the Falcons' defense has played better. The team's front seven is on the small side, but fast. The secondary is aggressive and well versed in man-to-man coverage. 

    The jury is split on Foles and whether or not he can handle the postseason pressure. The Falcons' D is not stout against the run. The Eagles have the necessary stable of backfield horses and need to establish a ground game early and stick to it. Go north and south against the Falcons, not lateral, which plays to their defensive speed. Doug Pederson needs to shorten up the passing game to keep the heat off Foles. Jim Schwartz's guys up front have to get to Matt Ryan to make him as uncomfortable as possible and keep Ryan from finding Julio Jones.

    When the Falcons have scored 20 or more points this season, they're 11-0 (including the playoff win over the Rams). When they've been held to 17 points or less, they're 0-6. The Linc will be rocking. The Eagles feel disrespected that they're the underdogs. This should be a knock-down, drag-out brawl. When the dust settles, look for the Eagles to still be standing.

    Eagles 23, Falcons 17

    Ray Didinger (14-2)
    Given the choice a week ago, most Eagles fans would have preferred to face Atlanta in the divisional playoff. Now that it has turned out that way, many of the same fans are hiding under their beds at the prospect of playing the Falcons. It's this weird pathology that has taken over the city since the injury to Wentz. People just don't think this team with Foles is equipped to beat anybody. OK, maybe the Cleveland Browns.

    No one is going to say it will be easy because it won't be. The Eagles are clearly a different team with Foles. They are not as explosive, not even close. With Wentz, when it was third down, it didn't matter if it was 3rd-and-2 or 3rd-and-15, he could make the play and move the sticks. That's no longer the case. Now a sack, a false start, a holding penalty, any negative play is a likely drive-killer. So the Eagles can't afford to make those mistakes.

    It is a pretty simple formula: The Eagles have to run the ball effectively, win the turnover battle, pressure Ryan (yes, we're looking at you Fletcher Cox), make a big play or two on special teams, all of which will expand Foles' comfort zone. No one expects him to throw for 400 yards. Just when, say, Zach Ertz is open on a seam route, hit him with the pass, don't sail it over his head.

    The Falcons are the defending NFC champs and they are peaking at the right time, but I don't see the Eagles' season ending this quickly.

    Eagles 20, Falcons 16

    Andrew Kulp (13-3)
    The more I talked to players, the more I got the sense Pederson was holding back the last two weeks of the regular season. And the more I felt the dialed-back practices and game plans were largely responsible for poor offensive performances in the Eagles' last game and a quarter, the more comfortable I felt about Foles moving forward.

    We all know Foles has his limitations, and he's prone to playing very poorly. He also has the ability to play exceptionally well, or at least OK. I'm not worried about him. He'll be fine.

    Where the game might really be won or lost is on the other side of the ball, at the line of scrimmage. The interior of the Falcons' offensive line is a mess right now, specifically the guards. Cox and Tim Jernigan should be able to do some damage. If the Eagles' defense can stop the run and get to Ryan, I don't think Atlanta's offense has this in it.

    Eagles 20, Falcons 16

    Corey Seidman (11-4) 
    My brain tells me the Falcons will win, but years of watching football, years of watching teams who feel truly disrespected and years of seeing the most likely scenario not occur has me leaning Eagles.

    Jones is unbelievable but there have been plenty of times this season he didn't swing the game. He scored in only two of 16 regular-season games and reached 100 yards four times.

    I trust the Eagles' run defense to hold Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in check, though I do expect Freeman to have a big game receiving - Texas routes, screens, etc.

    But at the end of the day, the Eagles' defense is good enough to hold the Falcons to 17 or fewer points, especially in an outdoor stadium.

    Eagles 20, Falcons 17