Eagles football is back.
The Eagles travel down to Atlanta to take on the Falcons today at 1 PM ET to kick off their 2021 season.
There is much skepticism to start off this season considering there haven’t been this many unknowns on the roster in at least half a decade. Expectations are low, but the potential is high. Putting aside all the drama from the offseason, this Eagles team has the pieces to contend for the playoffs right now. The Birds remain strong in the trenches, have added youth and speed to their skilled positions on offense, and have also added proven veterans to sure up holes on all three levels of the defense.
How the Birds will match up on offense:
This is likely to be a high scoring game. All the talk out of camp has been about how stellar Jonathan Gannon’s defense has looked, but the offense is primed to be the unit that shines today. As cliche as it is, if the Eagles win today it will likely be because of the running game. Running the ball today is important for a multitude of reasons – It will allow Jalen Hurts and this young offense to settle in, it will give the defense a chance to get rest, and simply put, the Eagles should dominate the Falcons upfront. The Falcons defensive front contains good players like Marlon Davidson and Dante Fowler, but the real disrupters are Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones. If the Eagles confuse and contain Jarrett and get to the second level to block Jones, Miles Sanders and company should have themselves a day on the ground.
As for the passing game, Jalen Hurts should have a lot of options to throw to. Giving Hurts easy reads against a bad secondary should be Nick Sirianni’s focus. Atlanta’s defense will most likely be using Deion Jones and one of their Safeties (likely Duron Harmon) to contain Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. Expect a lot of sparring with the Eagles running the ball often to set up big plays. Also expect the running backs to be used out of the back field a lot. This will distract the safeties and ideally set up plenty of one on one matchups on the outside.
How the Birds will match up on defense:
The key to defense today will be shutting down the run and playing good red zone defense. The Falcons have a good offense. They are going to put up yards. Matt Ryan is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and although they lost Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley remains and Kyle Pitts may be an even more effective option than Jones. Russel Gage can’t be forgotten either. Marcus Epps is going to be in at safety for Rodney McLeod today which makes these matchup nightmares even more hellish. Darius Slay is likely to not have much safety help against Ridley and no one on the Eagles can cover Kyle Pitts man on man. Very few players in the NFL can. The Falcons are likely to put up a massive number of yards through the air.
However, the Eagles once again are the better team up front. Just like the offensive side of the ball, our line is better than theirs. Atlanta’s offensive line features many high round picks that have been serviceable but haven’t quite lived up to expectations. The Birds could potentially dominate up front which is important because Atlanta’s head coach Arthur Smith likes to run the ball. If they take that away, Atlanta’s entire game plan will begin to crumble. Additionally, a good pass rush will also cause Matt Ryan to hopefully miss open receivers down field (because there will be plenty).
This is set up to be a high scoring game. The over/under is currently set at 49 which should get absolutely crushed. Neither team’s secondary is good and both Arthur Smith and Nick Sirianni are coaching in their first game as an NFL head coach. Neither defensive coordinator has a book on their opponent. Ultimately this game will come down to red zone efficiency, third down efficiency, turnover differential, time of possession, and special teams.
Philadelphia Eagles 34, Atlanta Falcons 30
The Eagles are too strong up front. They should win the battle of the trenches and as a result win the time of possession battle as well. The best defense the Eagles have today is for the offense to have long drives to keep Matt Ryan off the field.
Offensive player of the game: Quez Watkins
Defensive player of the game: Javon Hargrave