The Eagles opened their Week 1 game against the Falcons as heavy favorites but the line has been moving in Atlanta’s favor ever since Nick Foles was confirmed as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback.
If you’re among those who might not be feeling super confident in the Eagles for some reason, today’s post might have you feeling a little better about the reigning Super Bowl champs.
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, below 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.
I certainly hope the Falcons won’t lose, but there’s a reason the Eagles are pretty widely favored in this game. Playing at time and with plenty of talent, they can take this one even if they’re not totally healthy, especially if the Falcons don’t play the caliber of football they’re capable of. Here are three reasons why the Falcons will lose this game, though I hope none of them come to pass.
1) The pass rush doesn’t show up.
This is one of my nagging concerns left after the offseason, as the team almost certainly downgraded from Dontari Poe along the defensive front and added no high-end talent up front whatsoever, no matter how promising rookie defensive tackle Deadrin Senat is.
The Falcons have a pair of potentially elite pass rushers in Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley, but this is just Takk’s second season in the NFL, and Beasley has mixed one utterly brilliant season with two good ones where the production was a bit of a question mark. Grady Jarrett isn’t quite Aaron Donald, though he’s quite good, and the rest of the defense has a ton of talent but a fairly mixed track record when chasing down quarterbacks. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has some upside and may line up closer to the line of scrimmage some this year, and cornerback Brian Poole is one of the league’s best blitzers at the position. That’s still about it.
What I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that this may be merely a good pass rush and not a great one. Philadelphia’s good enough to stymie Atlanta in that regard, and if they do, I can’t say I’m hugely confident the Falcons will win.
2) Steve Sarkisian still isn’t ready.
We’re hearing now that [new Falcons quarterbacks coach] Greg Knapp is going to have a much more active role in the offense than anticipated, but for someone who remembers the Michael Vick offenses under Knapp, that’s not necessarily a thrilling prospect. If the offensive play calling isn’t up to snuff, the Falcons may scuffle to be the elite offense they should be, especially against quality defenses. You saw firsthand in the Divisional Round back in January that for all its weapons, Atlanta can still fall flat without inspired and smart scheming.
3) The offensive line can’t hold up.
We know that the Eagles can attack the Falcons ferociously up front, and the line has all the pieces it needs to in order to survive that assault. The question, again, is whether they will.
A year ago we saw left tackle Jake Matthews struggle with speed and power off the edge at times. We didn’t see Andy Levitre, who is hopefully healthy after suffering a triceps injury that kept him out against Philadelphia a year ago. And we have no real idea of what to expect from Brandon Fusco, the new starting guard and a rock solid run blocker who may or may not be a major upgrade in pass protection. I worry plenty about who is going to be stuck covering Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but the possibility that Matt Ryan could be under fire often in this one worries me more.