Philadelphia Eagles: Expect a loss this Sunday in Atlanta

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In Week 2 of the NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles face a tough task as they play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night. And all signs point to the Birds going down to defeat.

The Philadelphia Eagles were fortunate to win their opening game this season, as they only needed to show up for 30 minutes of football against a comparably weak Washington Redskins squad. It was a nice warm-up for the season.

In contrast, this week’s opponent will not be so forgiving. And not only that but the Atlanta Falcons are likely to come out flying after getting spanked in their own right by the Minnesota Vikings in their opener.

Now the Falcons are coming home to play in front of their fans, and they will present a tough task for an Eagles team that has to figure out how to get off to a better start, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

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Look no further than Week 1 of last season, when the Eagles struggled but ultimately ground out an 18-12 win over the Falcons in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ even benefited from an injury to the Falcons’ all-purpose weapon, Devonta Freeman, who was gouging the Birds before getting hurt.

Yet that game, and the teams’ meeting in the playoffs the previous season came in Philadelphia and offered the Eagles a slight edge. The dome will be rocking on Sunday, which marks the first time that the Eagles have played in Atlanta since the 2015 opener, which the Falcons won 26-24.

That’s ancient history now, but it just goes to show how home field might actually provide an advantage when these clubs meet, especially early on in a season when teams have yet to fully gel.

Turning to the actual matchups on the field, we should all feel some trepidation about how the Eagles’ secondary is likely to fare against the Atlanta passing attack, as Matt Ryan flings balls in the direction of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and others. It could be a long day.

Philadelphia’s defensive backs’ chances of success also took a hit with the recent news that defensive tackle Malik Jackson will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. After all, less pressure on the quarterback equates to more time for receivers to run routes, get open and elude their coverage.

I personally don’t feel that Jackson’s injury is the killer that some are making it out to be, as Howie Roseman will work his usual magic to figure out some kind of solution. Perhaps even an internal candidate will step up to bolster the Eagles’ defensive line rotation enough so that it does not become a liability.

At this early juncture, however, the team’s plan to replace Jackson remains murky. It’s never good timing when a big injury occurs, although the Eagles have plenty of time to course-correct. But this week could be a bit of a mess as the coaching staff tries to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Expect a seasoned QB like Matt Ryan to take full advantage.

And then there’s Freeman, now healthy after an essentially lost season in 2018. He was held in check last week, and he is too good to post disappointing back-to-back games to open a season. The Eagles will have their hands full facing a much more versatile and dangerous back than they did last week.

The early rust is also not likely to fall off of the Eagles’ offense all at once this week, despite what you may have seen in the second half against Washington last Sunday. Plus, it’s unreasonable to expect the Falcons’ defense to get lit up again after they surrendered 21 points in the first half in their surprising blowout loss in Minnesota.

In the end, this boils down to my belief that the Falcons are a good team with a real shot at making noise in the NFC playoffs. And I find it hard to believe that they won’t put up a big performance at home in an important game, even an early one like this.

It pains me to admit that I feel this way about this game, but I’m calling it like I see it. I do think, however, that if the Eagles see the Falcons again this year (meaning, in the postseason), they will take care of them in Philadelphia.

Next. The Philadelphia Eagles decimated the Redskins’ run game. dark

But I’m expecting a loss this week. Prove me wrong, Eagles.