The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs will get underway when the Atlanta Falcons visit the Philadelphia Eagles. The game will kickoff at 4:35 EST on Saturday, January 13 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game will be broadcast on NBC. Oddsmakers are listing the Falcons as 3-point road favorites with an over/under of 41.5 points.
Falcons vs Eagles Game Preview & Betting Odds
The Falcons are coming off an impressive road win over the Rams in the Wild Card Round. The Falcons did just about everything right in last week’s game. They controlled the clock, didn’t turn the ball over and took advantage when the Rams turned the ball over. They hope to do the same when they visit the Eagles this week.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia had the benefit of having last week off after earning the top seed in the NFC. However, there is great concern about the Eagles entering the playoffs without quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles scored just 19 total points over the final two weeks of the regular season without Wentz. To be fair, they rested several starters in Week 17. But there are still questions about Nick Foles being able to lead Philadelphia in the playoffs.
Free NFL Pick Against the Spread: Falcons -3
The Eagles are set to be the first top seed to be an underdog in their first playoff game. Early betting has heavily favored Atlanta, and I’m going to follow that trend and lean toward the Falcons. I just don’t see Foles being able to get the job done, especially after how impressive the Falcons were against the Rams in the Wild Card Round. Atlanta will win this game comfortably.
To be fair, Foles is not an ordinary backup. He’s been a starter in the NFL before and shouldn’t be fazed by the moment. However, the small-sample-size since he took over for Wentz has been a mixed bag. The Eagles were fortunate to beat the Giants in Week 15 despite Foles throwing four touchdown passes. Foles was uneven at best in a Week 16 win over the Raiders and then was unimpressive in limited action Week 17 against the Cowboys.
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The three games that Foles has started this season came against non-playoff teams. More importantly, he was rather unimpressive aside from a few touchdown passes against the lowly Giants. Fortunately for the Eagles, they have a strong rushing attack, which should help Foles. However, Oakland and Dallas showed little fear of Foles late in the season, enabling them to keep Philadelphia’s ground game contained.
The Atlanta defense employed a similar strategy during their win last week against the Rams and they figure to have a similar game plan against the Eagles. The Rams were effective when they did run the ball, but the Falcons put them in a position in which they had to throw the ball. Jared Goff ended up throwing the ball 45 times. If they force Foles to throw the ball that many times, the Eagles will be in trouble.
I’ve also been impressed with how the Atlanta offense has looked in recent weeks. The Falcons continued to settle for field goals last week. That also an issue in Week 17 and remains a concern. But Matt Ryan was ultra-efficient, completing 21 of 30 passes for over 200 yards. The Falcons also ran the ball for over 100 yards, creating good balance offensively. Most importantly, Julio Jones looked healthy after struggling with injuries down the stretch, catching nine passes for 94 yards against the Rams.
Of course, the Eagles are one of the best defensive teams in the league. But their depth at linebacker is an issue, and it showed in their ability to stop the run late in the year, as both Oakland and Dallas ran for over 100 yards against them. I also have faith that the Falcons can lean on Ryan if they have to.
Between Foles having to start and their troubles stopping the run, I have little faith in the Eagles right now. Meanwhile, the Falcons finished strong and were at the top of their game last week. With Ryan playing well and their skill players healthy, I like the Falcons to win and cover the spread in Philadelphia.
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