Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles Week 8 Preview
The Atlanta Falcons (6-0) travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) in a battle of the birds with one set looking to continue their perfect season and another hoping to salvage theirs. Both the Eagles and Falcons are coming off of their bye week, so it will be interesting to see which team improved more with the extra practice time and which could stand to take a few more reps that don’t count towards their record.
Although the Falcons enter this game with a perfect record on the year, they have looked extremely vulnerable in their past few games and need this game to make a statement to the rest of the NFL that they are indeed the supreme team in the league.
Atlanta’s offense is currently ranked 13th in yards gained per game (361.3 yards), eighth in passing yards gained per game (274.8 yards), 29th in rushing yards gained per game (86.5 yards) and sixth in points scored per game (28.5 points) while their defense is ranked 22nd in yards allowed per game (367.2 yards), 12th in passing yards allowed per game (223.3 yards), 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (143.8 yards) and seventh in points allowed per game (18.8 points).
Matt Ryan has been playing lights out for the Falcons this season, passing for 1,756 yards (10th in NFL), 14 touchdowns (tied for 4th) and six interceptions while completing 67.8% of his attempts (tied for 4th). If the Falcons want to remain undefeated, they will need Ryan to connect with his three favorite targets: Roddy White (37 receptions for 533 yards and 4 TD), Tony Gonzalez (43 receptions for 430 yards and 4 TD) and Julio Jones (30 receptions for 376 yards and 4 TD) both in short yardage situations (to mask their lack of a running game) as well as down field on big plays.
On defense, the Falcons are going to have to get huge games out of their leading tackler Sean Weatherspoon (46 tackles and 3 sacks) and John Abraham (6 sacks) upfront applying pressure to the Eagles backfield, which is proven to turn the ball over as well as from Thomas DeCloud (4 interceptions) and the secondary to take advantage of rushed throws.
The Eagles are coming into the game with question marks throughout the entire team as well as the organization and need a win here to place a band-aid over some of those problems. Philadelphia’s offense is currently ranked seventh in yards gained per game (379 yards), 13th in passing yards gained per game (257 yards), 10th in rushing yards gained per game (122 yards) and 30th in points scored per game (17.2 points) while their defense is 12th in yards allowed per game (330.8 yards), 15th in passing yards allowed per game (226.3 yards), 14th in rushing yards allowed per game (104.5 yards) and 11th in points allowed per game (20.8 points).
Michael Vick (1,632 passing yards, 8 TD and 63.8% completion rate along with 41 carries for 205 yards and a TD) has been a walking turnover so far this season and is personally responsible for 11 (8 interceptions and 3 fumbles lost) of the team’s 17 giveaways on the year. Vick has had a few good moments, but most have been not so memorable, which means he needs to hold on to the ball when its in his hands and based on their opponent let the running game dictate this game for Philly.
LeSean McCoy (111 carries for 459 yards and a TD) could be huge in this contest for the fact that the Falcons are terrible at stopping the run and he is so good at making his opponents miss tackles. The Eagles have been solid on defense and need to remain that way versus the Falcons with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (3 interceptions) controlling the secondary and DeMeco Ryans (47 tackles) patrolling the middle of the defensive unit they should be able to halt Ryan from making tons of big plays.
Here is an interesting fact: Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid is 13-0 in his career with the team when coming off of a bye week. I expect that record to improve to 14-0 because the Eagles have so much more to play for and I truly don’t believe in Atlanta as a dominant team. Eagles 31 – Falcons 24.