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Falcons writer gives 3 reasons why the Eagles will beat Atlanta

Focusing on the enemy’s weaknesses.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are three-point underdogs heading into their Divisional Round playoff matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Nearly everyone is counting them out.

If you’re among those who have lost faith, today’s post might have you feeling a little better about the Eagles’ chances.

Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with The Falcoholic in order to preview this week’s matchup. You can read that here.

Today, we’re back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each team’s weaknesses, rather than just being homers.

So here are three reasons why the Falcons could lose, as written by The Falcoholic’s Dave Choate. Stay tuned to The Falcoholic to see why I think the Eagles could lose.

#1: The Falcons can’t handle the Eagles defense.

This is a legitimate concern. The Falcons have been silenced multiple times this season by quality defenses, including a frankly embarrassing nine point excursion against the Minnesota Vikings defense. At home.

Regardless of what the numbers say about the Eagles’ productivity rushing the passer, I certainly am well aware of their capability to do so. I’m well aware the Philadelphia secondary can hold its own, even if Julio Jones is likely to dine at times on Saturday. And I know the run defense is stout enough to limit Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to solid but unspectacular days, putting more pressure on Matt Ryan and the passing game to earn the win.

That’s pressure Matty Ice has endured many times before, sure. Given the way this offense has played much of the year, though, the strength of the Philadelphia defense could limit the Falcons to under 20 points, and they’ve won very few games this year when that happens.

#2: The Falcons are prone to mistakes.

Up until recently, I kept having to write articles about the team’s terrible luck and execution. Some eight of Matt Ryan’s interceptions bounced off someone’s hands, several big plays and big returns were called back due to penalties, and the Falcons defense lost multiple huge turnovers because they were penalized on interceptions. It’s not a stretch to say that the Falcons could have contended for a first round bye had they not repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.

That problem didn’t really go away until Week 17, and while the Falcons have still mixed in some boneheaded special teams penalties, they’ve largely avoided major mistakes while beating both the Panthers and Rams by double digits over the last two weeks. The body of evidence this season suggests that the Falcons are still a bit of a sloppy squad, though, and in a game like this even one or two big mistakes could very well swing the outcome.

#3: They struggle with starting field position.

This is a very big one, and an impactful one. I’m not focusing on the defense because while they have their poor stretches, they’ve done remarkably well over the last couple of months, and are likely to largely hold the Eagles offense in check Saturday. The offense hasn’t been as awe-inspiring, though, and the team has struggled mightily to make the kinds of plays on special teams that would help them out.

It’s no coincidence that the Falcons so frequently fall short just before the red zone or within it, because they’re having to cover so much distance to get there. The Falcons have been very productive moving the ball down the field, but they’ve had the second-worst starting field position in the NFL all year, and Steve Sarkisian has proven time and time again that he’s not the league’s most effective and innovative play caller once things tighten up inside the 20. When you’re starting drives from your own 10 or 15 again and again, drives do stall out, you increase the chances of a mistake being made on your long march down the field, and you probably wind up settling for more field goals.

Again, in a game that has the potential to be close and physical, you can’t leave points on the field. Unless the Falcons can stop starting drives from deep in their own territory, though, I’m afraid that’s exactly what they’ll do.

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