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A big game Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field when the 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles host the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons, and the Eagles are in desperation mode! They have dropped two straight giving up 4th quarter leads to the Steelers and Lions but now after a much needed bye week, they look to get back on the winning track against a team that many people aren’t giving them any chance to win the football game. And here are my three keys for an Eagles victory.
-Utilizing RB Lesean McCoy: With Hurricane Sandy scheduled to hit the east coast Sunday evening, inclement weather and strong winds are scheduled to play a major factor in this football game. Both teams are going to struggle throwing the football which gives the Eagles the advantage I feel offensively. The Falcons have not been able to run the football this season only averaging 86.5 yards a game which is 3rd worst in the NFL. And the Falcons run defense is atrocious! Atlanta is giving up 143.8 yards a game on the ground.
The Eagles should find some success on the ground IF they run the football. It all relies on Andy Reid and Marty Morhingweg on what they want to do with the football. They establish the run and control the tempo and the clock in this football game, you have a strong chance in winning. It keeps the ball out of QB Michael Vick’s hands and keeps the Falcons high powered passing offense off the field! But knowing what the Eagles will do and try to outsmart everyone, they will pass 50 times.
-Ball Security: With the sloppy weather and field conditions, hanging onto the football with play a major factor in this football game which doesn’t favor the Eagles one bit. They have a league-high 17 turnovers this season and QB Michael Vick has 13 of them. The Eagles have a -9 in turnover differential. And you can’t give the ball up to this Falcon’s team. They are an opportunistic team that knows how to take advantage of opponent’s miscues and reason why they are 6-0 this season. They have given up a lot of yards but their D doesn’t give up many points and know how to force havoc for their opponents.
But on the other hand even though the Falcons don’t turn the ball over much, this is a team that lives and dies with the passing game with all the weapons they have at their disposal. Strong winds and a wet football doesn’t go well for the Falcons to move the ball offensively and this could be a game they have a letdown.
-Todd Bowles: What a first game to game plan for as the Eagles new defensive coordinator! He will have his hands full trying to control the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL, Roddy White and Julio Jones, a hall of fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan who is having an MVP type of season! The defense has play well this season even under Juan Castillo besides a few key areas. That is forcing takeaways and getting to the quarterback which I feel we see a drastic improvement this week. I feel with Bowles as DC actually gives the Eagles the advantage!
Right now this Eagles defense is a mystery with Bowles as DC. We don’t know his tendencies and schemes. There really is no game tape on what his design is on defense besides a few games last season when he was interim head coach for the Dolphins. But this is a completely different football team than Miami. I expect we see a glimpse of what we saw when Jim Johnson was here. A lot more blitz packages and schemes bringing safety and corner blitzes and be a little more aggressive trying to attack opposing offenses. And with the Falcons not knowing much about Bowles it plays in the Eagles favor.
Prediction- Eagles over Falcons 24-20; If Eagles can hang onto the football and not make Michael Vick the focal point, I see the Eagles coming up with the victory with the weather conditions. I see RB Lesean McCoy having a breakout game and goes off for over 100yds and a few scores. The defense thrives on the new blood running their unit and force Matt Ryan to make some mistakes with the football which will be the difference maker in this football game. Also Eagle’s backs are up against a wall and are desperate for a win because if they want to keep pace in the NFC East and the NFC they can’t afford to drop to 3-4 and sometimes a desperate team beats a better team.