Falcons @ Eagles
The first game of the season is here, kickoff is just an hour away, and someone will be savouring victory by 4am. Can the Eagles carry on where they left off in the Super Bowl? Will the Falcons be a more balanced team after a difficult year with offensive play calling?
Im going to come right out and say it, the Falcons are going to win this game, and it may not even be close. Check out this receiving unit, Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper, plus two genuine 3-down backs capable of catching and running TDs from the backfield in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. These 6 weapons fed by Almost-elite QB play from Matt Ryan and co-ordinated by the now fully integrated Steve Sarkisian will provided the toughest possible test for The Eagles much vaunted defensive unit. Julio is out to prove he can snag touchdowns, not just yards, Coleman is beginning a contract year, Ridley the rookie is keen to live up to the draft hype. Having these three guys feeling they have something to prove is more than dangerous. Throw in the defensive -side of the team, led by Vic Beasley who returns to his preferred role at defensive-end rather than linebacker where he was asked to fill a need last year. Keanu Neal and Deion Jones are great athletes in the backfield aiming to prevent Nick Foles making big gains downfield and whilst Adrian Clayborns rushing ability has been lost to the Patriots the team have a ready made replacement in 2017 1st rounder Takarist McKinley. Stacked.
The Champions are hardly a poor team, don’t take my pessimism as a knock on the team as a whole. They return almost all of last years key players, Zach Ertz Nelson, Agholar, Jay Ajayi, Jake Elliot (90%+ kick accuracy) and core special teamer Darren Sproles are back onboard, However there are a couple of nateable absences. We all know Wentz isnt yet cleared for full contact following his knee surgery, so Foles retains his starting spot for now, but equally important is the lack of Alshon Jeffrey on the field. The huge wideout caught 12 TD passes last year (9 reg season and 3 playoff including 1 in the final). He is a defensive matchup nightmare, without him it becomes easier to make double-teams on Ertz and co. Foles relied heavily on Jeffrey to move the chains, without him there is a real possibility this team stutters on offense.
Im going to predict a Foles come-down performance, 2 Interceptions and a fumble under tremendous pressure from The Falcons front 7. Elliot will put up points for the Eagles, 2 FGs minimum, and theres a decent chance that Ertz snares a score, but if Foles et al give away decent field position to the Falcons offense there are too many good players for this Eagles D to overcome. Give me TDs for Sanu and Freeman plus a couple of field-goals and i’ll say the reigning champs take an early setback in the region of a 20-13 scoreline. Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffrey…your team needs you.