Here we are. The Eagles are prepping to go into their first playoff matchup since 2013 and are looking for their first win since 2008. Of course we know the storyline already. Carson Wentz, the face of our franchise went down with a torn ACL, the team as a whole has been inconsistent since, and now the Eagles are ultimately viewed as the underdogs despite being seeded as #1 in the NFC.
I’ll be honest, I’m not overly confident in this team at the moment. The last 2 weeks of the season were infuriating to watch with the offense struggling to even get the ball across midfield. Nonetheless, I still have hope. From here on out the Eagles just have to take it game by game. In the following I highlighted some key areas that Philadelphia has to focus on to pull out a win against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
Find the Offense
No surprise here. Since the Giants game in week 15 the Eagles offense has been missing. Of course when you lose a MVP candidate at the QB position you should expect some struggles, but the last 2 weeks of play were inexcusable.
Against the Raiders and Cowboys in weeks 16-17 the Eagles offensive starters were able to muster just 1 touchdown, which came against Oakland in the 1st half.
In those games Nick Foles is 23/49 with a 1-2 TD/INT ratio. Meanwhile in the run game..
Jay Ajayi: 26 carries 101yds
LeGarrette Blount: 14 carries 49yds
Corey Clement: 3 carries 14yds
Dreadful, right? To add onto the Eagles struggles on the ground, their last rushing touchdown came against Dallas in late November.
So the key to this playoff matchup against Atlanta is to get back on track. Easier said than done, but the offense must be somewhat existent if the Eagles want to survive and advance. Pederson must instill a game plan that is manageable for Foles, increasing his confidence in the process. Once the passing game gets going again everything else is butter.
Get Pressure on Matt Ryan
It’s no secret that the Falcons could be dangerous through the air. When you have an imposing figure like Julio Jones on the outside, paired with other viable passing options in Sanu, Freeman, and Coleman you must be fully prepared.
Atlanta had the 8th most passing yards in the league this season, but putting pressure on the QB could prevent any damage done, because despite these high passing totals Matt Ryan has also produced 12 interceptions and 4 fumbles. Philadelphia’s defense on the other side of the ball totaled 19 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries which are both 4th best in the league.
If Cox, Graham, and company can continue their season trend they should be able to disturb Ryan enough to force him into mistakes and ultimately an Eagles win.
This step is directed at the fans attending the game on Saturday. The NFC playoffs is going through Lincoln Financial Field, don’t waste that opportunity. Be the X factor on Saturday. Take advantage of an Atlanta team that just traveled to Los Angeles last week and now have to go 700+ miles to get to Philadelphia. Make it uncomfortable.
Get loud, Philadelphia!
Jordan is the founder of Sports Are Philly and a current student at Misericordia University.
You can follow him on Twitter @darealjlaw.