How are you feeling about this matchup?
There were a number of factors that led to that uneasiness. We don’t need to rehash all of them here, though, because the focus is now on this year. And it’s undeniable that there are positive vibes surrounding this Eagles team heading into their 2021 campaign.
The extent to which this matters remains to be seen. When it comes to the Eagles’ specific matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, though? There are reasons for continued optimism.
It starts with Philly’s offensive line, which is much more intact than it was last year. The Eagles should be able to provide lanes for Miles Sanders and his backfield companions. Jalen Hurts should be getting time to throw against an Atlanta defense that lacks intimidating pass rush talent outside of Grady Jarrett. Not to mention a highly suspect secondary that features three low-cost, one-year signings in Erik Harris, Duron Harmon, and Fabian Moreau. The former two were starters for really bad pass defenses in 2020. The latter was easily let go by Washington four years after they spent a third-round pick on him. DeVonta Smith could be ripe for a very big NFL debut.
On defense, Fletcher Cox going up against rookie Jalen Mayfield feels like the biggest mismatch in this game. It won’t be as simple as Atlanta dedicating extra attention to Cox because doing so could free up Javon Hargrave, who had a strong summer, to really take advantage of 1-on-1 looks. Generating interior pressure could go a long way towards limiting the damage that Calvin Ridley and/or Kyle Pitts will likely be able to do against an Eagles secondary lacking Rodney McLeod.
Perhaps confidence in the Eagles is misplaced considering Matt Ryan is a much more proven commodity than Hurts. Perhaps it’s too easy to gloss over growing pains for the second-year quarterback, as well as potential mistakes made by Nick Sirianni and his new coaching staff. A number of Eagles coaches are in their first years in their current roles. Perhaps not enough weight is being given to how it could be challenging to win on the road in Atlanta.
The feeling here is that this will be a close one that goes down to the wire. I’ll lean with the Eagles.
For more, check out BGN’s weekly NFL game predictions.
Score prediction: 27 to 24, Eagles win.
Bold prediction: DeVonta Smith scores three touchdowns.
Leave your own score predictions in the comments.