Week 8: Atlanta Falcons At Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackWhile it has been smooth sailing for the Falcons through their first six games, there’s no way that they will have nothing but clear seas the rest of the way. Quarterback Matt Ryan has been on top of his game all season. He has a quick release, an accurate arm and the quickness needed to escape the pass rush. However, he knows he has to prove it in the postseason to be thought of as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.Michael Vick has to figure out how to hold on to the football. He is having problems with fumbles and interceptions and that’s going to keep the Eagles from winning a lot of games and securing a playoff spot unless he turns it around quickly. Vick is still a high-level athlete, but he is having problems reading defenses and understanding where the pass-rush pressure is coming from.
- OffenseThe Falcons present a lot of offensive options that make them a very difficult team to stop. Michael Turner runs with power and quickness. He can make key yardage on interior runs and also get to the outside. Roddy White is one of the most productive receivers in the league while Julio Jones is an intimidating deep threat. Tony Gonzalez may be ancient at tight end, but Ryan is not afraid to throw to him.The Eagles have plenty of offensive weapons, but there have been question about how they have been used. Start with running back LeSean McCoy, who has the speed and explosiveness to cause problems for nearly every defense. DeSean Jackson has the speed to get deep and so does fellow receiver Jeremy Maclin. Tight end Brent Celek has strong hands and is quite dependable.
- DefenseThe Falcons have been known for their speed and quickness on defense for several years and this season is no different. John Abraham (team-leading 6.0 sacks) has the explosiveness to get around the corner and get to the quarterback. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is one of the most dependable tacklers in the league. Free safety Thomas DeCoud is opportunistic in the secondary and could be a thorn in Vick’s side.The Eagles are among the most talented defensive teams in the league but they have not really put it together yet. DeMeco Ryans is the Eagles’ leading tackler from the middle linebacker position. He has great range and does not let ball carriers slip out of his grasp. Safety Nate Allen has the ability to wreak havoc from the secondary.
- Special TeamsHead coach Mike Smith is more than happy to see Matt Bryant trot out onto the field. Bryant has made 13-of-14 field goal attempts, including 2-of-2 from beyond the 50 yard line. Return specialist Jacquizz Rodgers is an explosive return specialist who could cause issues for the Eagles.The Eagles have not gotten much from their special teams to this point in the season. Andy Reid would like to see his returners flip the field for Philadelphia, something that has not happened this season. Placekicker Alex Henery has made 11-of-12 FG attempts this season.
This is a game that is huge for the Eagles on several fronts. They are coming off a bye week after blowing a game against the Detroit Lions. The undefeated Falcons – also coming off a bye – are much better than the Falcons. Vick is under maximum pressure because he has to show he can hold on to the football. He’s also going up against his old team, and if you don’t remember, it didn’t end well for him in Atlanta.