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2018 NFL Divisional Round Expert Analysis: Eagles vs Falcons

The 2018 NFC Divisional Round begins on Saturday with the Atlanta Falcons taking on the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles.

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Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons Predictions

  • When: January 13, 2018, 4:35 PM ET
  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field
  • Spread: Falcons -3
  • Total: 41
  • Moneyline: Falcons -155 vs Eagles +135

Atlanta Falcons Analysis

The Falcons proved last week that experience matters in the playoffs by defeating the higher-seeded Los Angeles Rams on the road.

Atlanta was able to win the game thanks to some good defense and a few fortunate breaks.

The game looked like it was going to be a defensive slugfest before the Rams started turning the ball over.

The Falcons took advantage of two key fumbles by the Rams and converted it to 10 points.

With the defense playing well, the Falcons offense didn’t have to do too much.

Their running game came through after two sub-par performances. Atlanta finished with 124 yards on 39 carries.

Matt Ryan looked sharp for the Falcons as he kept the chains moving and allowed his defense to get some rest between series. Ryan finished the game completing 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards and one touchdown.

Matt Ryan heads into Saturday's game with a 100-plus passer rating in five consecutive postseason games, which is the second-longest streak in league history. Only the famed 49ers quarterback Joe Montana had a longer streak with eight games.

Wide receiver Julio Jones is also one who can create major problems for the Eagles’ secondary. Jones caught 9 of 10 catches against the Rams and when paired with Ryan is a deadly-effective combination.

The duo has connected 80 percent of the time through seven playoff games – the best of any QB-WR matching in NFL playoff history since 2011.

The Falcons will be hoping to get another great performance for their defense in what will be a very loud stadium.

Atlanta has lacked strength on defense with so much focus placed on their offensive capabilities. But, the group has shored up their positions with the likes of linebacker Deion Jones, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, cornerback Desmond Trufant, and safety Keanu Neal.

Jones kept Atlanta’s playoff hopes alive with an unbelievable high-flying interception of a Drew Brees pass in their game against the Saints in Week 16.

Whereas last year’s defense lacked in many areas, this year’s squad may turn out to be what the Falcons need to get past this game and, perhaps, further.

If their defense can prevent the Eagles from making big plays, and Devonta Freeman continues running the ball well, the Falcons should be able to win the game and advance to the NFC Championship Game.

Key Atlanta Falcons Betting Trends

  • Atlanta is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games
  • Atlanta is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Atlanta's last 5 games

Philadelphia Eagles Analysis

The Eagles are going into this game as underdogs despite finishing with the best record in the NFL.

Even though the team has been written off because of the injury to quarterback Carson Wentz, they still have a good chance to make it past this game because backup Nick Foles has a lot of experience and once led the Eagles to the playoffs.

But, as it stands the Eagles have struggled in their last two games and as the stats show, Fowles might not be up to the task of leading the offense to a good game.

Foles lacks what Wentz was a master of: the ability of converting on third down opportunities. Foles converted just one of 17 third downs over his last two games which opens a can of worms in this game.

With Foles under center, head coach Doug Pederson will try to protect him by running the ball more than they usually do.

If they can get the running game going, the offense will open up more for Foles because the Falcons have to respect the passing game.

Defensively, the Eagles were one of the best teams in the NFL this season, allowing an average of 18.4 points per game.

The team will need the defense to step up against a Falcons team that is capable of putting up a lot of points when they are in sync.

Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones, in particular, will need some extra attention after a good game against the Rams.

If the Eagles leave him in man coverage during the game, he will burn their secondary.

As it stands, the defense is the key ingredient for an Eagles win. In fact, using the same formula (defense + ball control), the Eagles defeated the Falcons, at home, 14 months ago.

It stands to reason, then, that the Eagles can win.

After sitting out almost two weeks, rust will be a factor for the Eagles, but they cannot afford to make silly mistakes and give the Falcons favorable field position because of turnovers.

Foles, in particular, will need to be very careful with the ball, especially after throwing an interception in each of his last two starts.

Key Philadelphia Eagles Betting Trends

  • Philadelphia is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
  • Philadelphia is 12-2 SU in its last 14 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Philadelphia's last 7 games

Pick and Prediction: The Falcons are favored to win this game by 3 points. The over/under on total points scored is 41.5. The Falcons might have more experience, but this Eagles team won’t go down without a fight. Take Philadelphia +3 and the under in this one.

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