Our self-exiled Gatekeeper BRIZER is ready to come out from hibernation from his Bryn Mawr mansion/igloo….He senses a major eruption in Eagles nation over the upcoming Divisional Title game with the Falcons…here are his cryptic words:
“Rumour has it,..the son of Bri may join the fray at the EYE,…soonly…since the BORED is wanton of an enema…Hahaha… That said,..regarding this upcoming deficit (game)…..Me brain and ample gut says Atlanters,.whilst the heart pines fo’ da Iggles. …27-17…..Indeed,..as per usual, there are multiple plausible scenarios for this encounter..although the main thrust are for two likely,..one of the main reasons yur GK created the popular but frequently misunderstood ( usually by Benny and Hopper),.the SiTD contest. Alas,.. Jay Bear catches 3 passes for 48 critical yards. Go EAGLES!!!!”
“I think the Falcons are at their best when they feed the ball to RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Freeman is a violent, fearless runner who will punish defenders, as well as himself. He and Coleman run downhill and they run hard, which always gives them a chance for big plays. They’re mostly methodical, but will break loose a few times a game. Atlanta does a good job of running inside and also attacking the edges.
“The passing game is built on the run game. There are a lot of play-action fakes. Ryan does a good job with them. If you sell out to stop the run, the Falcons will burn you. They don’t have the fastest receivers, but they are big and physical. They can block and they are tough to tackle. Julio Jones is one of the best WRs in the league. The TEs can block and catch. While not dynamic, they are excellent fits in this offense.
“Yards after the catch is a critical part of this offense. The Eagles must pursue and they must tackle well.”
“DEFENSE: Dan Quinn brought the scheme from Seattle when he took over as head coach. That means a lot of Cover 3 and a lot of 8-man fronts. And speed.
“The DL is led by Grady Jarrett. He’s become one of the better DTs in the league. He had 10 TFLs and 4 sacks this year. He’s quick and powerful. Edge rushers like Adrian Clayborn, Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley can all beat blockers and get to the QB. There are times when the Falcons will put that foursome on the field to get their best set of pass rushers together.
“The star of the defense is MLB Deion Jones. He’s become a stud. He led the team in tackles, TFLs (11) and INTs (3). Other than that, he had a quiet year. DeVondre Campbell isn’t as well known, but has developed into a good player as well.
“The secondary is good. CB Robert Alford led the team with 20 PDs. Desmond Trufant is the best cover corner. Brian Poole was outstanding against the Rams and made key open field tackles throughout the game. Keanu Neal is the SS and he’s a stud. He hits like a ton of bricks.”
“Atlanta won’t blitz a ton, but they will mix them in enough to keep the offense off balance and to make sure the blockers have to keep their eyes open.”
Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the matchup challenges lined up:
- Before the Eagles knew their opponent, it was clear that Jay Ajayi would need to be a big part of the Eagles winning in the playoffs. That’s especially the case against the Falcons, who threaten with a fast, swarming defense. The Falcons allowed only 104.1 rushing yards per games this season, which ranked No. 9 in the NFL. But in the Falcons’ October loss to Miami, Ajayi rushed for 126 yards on 25 carries. It was the most rushing yards the Falcons allowed all season. It was the only 100-yard rusher the Falcons allowed until Los Angeles’ Todd Gurley reached 101 yards on Saturday. When the Eagles beat the Falcons last season, they rushed for 208 yards against the same defensive scheme that the Falcons still use. The game situation always dictates what the Eagles do — if they’re trailing early, they’ll be more inclined to pass — but it would make sense to try to establish the run and make Ajayi the workhorse running back. That could be their best shot against the Falcons.
- The Eagles will probably play the nobody-believes-in-us card this week, although it has some validity because they’re home underdogs as the No. 1 seed — the first time a No. 1 seed has been underdogs in the divisional round. The Falcons are the defending NFC champions and have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. This will be a tough game. But it’s a game the Eagles can win, even with Nick Foles at quarterback. The Falcons have been vulnerable this season — they failed to score more than 24 points in their last five games of the regular season and they scored fewer than 20 points six times. The formula for the Eagles with Foles isn’t winning games in the 30s (even though they beat the Giants that way); it’s outlasting opponents in ugly games, like they did against Oakland. A game like the one the Falcons played against the Rams could favor the Eagles because it was a time-of-possession battle that required capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes. The Eagles can emphasize limiting turnovers with Foles, running the ball effectively, and trusting their defense. It’s a tough matchup and I liked the Falcons this year more than most, but it’s a better matchup for the Eagles than it would have been if New Orleans visited.
- You’ll likely hear much about the Eagles’ 24-15 win over the Falcons last season. It was Atlanta’s lowest scoring output on their way to the Super Bowl. The Falcons have a new offensive coordinator and it’s a different season, but Schwartz’s strategy that day will receive attention this week and it’s one the Eagles would be wise to try to replicate. The Eagles pressured Matt Ryan (two sacks, six hits) and tried to keep Julio Jones in front of them. They allowed 10 catches for 135 yards to Jones, but it was his third lowest yards per catch average last season. They also emphasized putting the Falcons in third-and-long situations by getting negative plays on early downs. Atlanta went 2 of 11 on third downs in that game with an average distance of 9.9 yards to go.
Add it all up and I like our chances. I think Brizer does, too…Or should I say “thimk”?