One of the many problems with the Atlanta Falcons is the lack of an interdivisional rival. The Saints have the Cowboys, the Panthers have the Seahawks, and the Buccaneers have the Dolphins. Well, perhaps we can be rivals with Seattle like the Panthers (so much so that most Seattle fans I saw cheered for the Cardinals to win the NFC Championship) in light of this year’s controversial game, but barring a close playoff game, it won’t last.
But Falcons-Eagles seems like a prime candidate for a rivalry. Think about it. Both teams have birds of prey as their mascots. Both are NFL companions to intense MLB rivals. And both have squared off a lot in the current millennium.
The Falcons have had five seasons in which we could have won a Super Bowl: 1982, 1998, 2004, 2010, and 2012. In the 2004 season we were denied in the NFC Championship game with a bang by Philly! They kicked our asses 27-10! The reason was because after a competent first half, the Michael Vick-run offense could get nothing going and was shut out for the rest of the game. However, we have since taken some measure of revenge by beating the Eagles three straight times!
Can we get the fourth on Sunday? This Philly team looked really good early on, going 3-0 and smashing a Pittsburgh Steelers team that was expected to be a Super Bowl contender. They’ve lost four out of five since to fall to .500. The climax of this fall was losing to the New York Giants, who they have the advantage over since 9/11. Additionally, their big win over the Steelers is looking smaller by the week, as that team is second in a division that finished Sunday without a single winning team.
The reasons are multiple. Their defense is as mixed a bag as ever — bad against the run, good at rushing the passer, and their secondary is so bad that they just promoted one from their practice squad. Offense has been a nightmare! After looking like a shoo-in rookie of the year in his first three games, Carson Wentz has been playing like the rookie that he is. That is of course if it’s rookie blues and not that he’s playing like you’d expect a North Dakota State student to.
Wentz has already become an icon to Eagles fans, so I guess I should calm them down by pointing out that no, he doesn’t have the talent around him that Matt Ryan does. The Lane Johnson suspension has wrecked their already weak offensive line. Halapoulivaati Vaitai (from here on, Big V). He’s allowing even more pressure on Wentz than existed before, which wasn’t a small amount. Their run game is pretty bad. The worst is their butterfingered receivers. The only good one is Zach Ertz, who drops a lot of passes himself.
The Eagles have been better at home. Which probably means nothing because 4 of Atlanta’s 6 wins have been on the road.
So do I see this as a blowout? Possibly. Their secondary can’t hang with our offense. I suppose they can try tripling Julio Jones, but that model doesn’t work anymore. Too many other options. And if Washington’s umimpressive rushing attack can scorch them, so can Devonta Freeman. I’ve got Vic Beasley and/or Adrian Clayborn rolling Big V all game and kidnapping the quarterback in distress, so don’t be surprised if the Eagles, like the Buccaneers last week, don’t score much until we play clock-chewing prevent.
The only sticking point is Philly’s pass rush spearheaded by Fletcher Cox. If they can startle Ryan into making dumb decisions, they’ve got a shot. Other than that, I think we’ve got this. RISE UP!!!