Atlanta Falcons (11-6-0 SU, 8-9-0 ATS, 5-12-0 O/U) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3-0 SU, 10-6-0 ATS, 8-8-0 O/U)
When and Where: Saturday, Jan. 13, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., 4:35 p.m. EST.
Line: Atlanta -3
Nick Foles was the starting quarterback the last time the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles made the playoffs. He is the starter once more heading into Saturday’s NFC divisional round matchup with the defending conference champion Atlanta Falcons, but under much different circumstances.
Playoff-savvy Falcons eliminate Rams in wild-card round
The defending conference champion Falcons (11-6) showed they will be a tough out in this postseason after knocking off NFC West division winner Los Angeles 26-13 on the road last Saturday.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman formed an efficient running tandem, combining for 106 yards on 30 carries while Matt Ryan displayed his usual effectiveness by completing 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown for his first career playoff road win. Atlanta held the ball for nearly 38 minutes, and the defense allowed just one touchdown in the four occasions the Rams entered the red zone.
Ryan has thrown for 1,232 yards and 10 TDs without an interception in his last four postseason games, completing 71.1 percent of his passes while averaging 9.63 yards per attempt.
Julio Jones had nine receptions for 94 yards, and his eight-yard touchdown reception with 5:48 to play after the Rams had drawn within six points effectively sealed the win. In his last four postseason games, Jones has totaled 28 catches for 428 yards and four touchdowns.
The Falcons allowed 361 total yards, and their 115 yielded on the ground were the most since Seattle rolled up 136 in Week 11. Atlanta had allowed only 77.3 rushing yards per game in its final four regular-season games.
Including its wild-card victory, Atlanta has gone 6-3 on the road this season and has forced nine turnovers over the past six contests. The Falcons are 6-0 on the road when scoring 20 or more points, but 0-3 when they fail to reach that mark.
Eagles go back to the future with Foles
Philadelphia (13-3) won the NFC East in 2013 as Foles took over the starting role in midseason and went 8-3 in the final 11 games of the season. But his postseason was short-lived as the Eagles fell 26-24 to the New Orleans Saints at home as Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired.
Foles, though, was effective as he completed 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards and a pair of scores, including an eight-play, 77-yard drive that gave Philadelphia a 24-23 lead with 4:54 remaining.
This time around, Foles was under center for Philadelphia’s final three games after Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Philadelphia’s Week 14 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Foles did well in tearing apart the New York Giants, throwing for 237 yards and four touchdowns, but that dropped off to 163 yards and one scoring pass in Philadelphia’s 19-10 win over Oakland on Christmas night that clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Foles played only the first quarter in a season-ending 6-0 loss to Dallas, finishing 4 of 11 for 34 yards before giving way to Nate Sudfeld, who went 19 of 23 for 134 yards. The most glaring difference from Wentz to Foles is in the yards per attempt, with Foles averaging 5.o5 compared to Wentz’s 7.49.
Philadelphia finished with just 435 yards in its last two games after it had topped 400 total yards on seven occasions this season. Foles’ ineffectiveness affected the running game as the Eagles averaged 85.3 rushing yards in the last three games, well off their season mark of 132.2 per game.
Foles does have three solid targets in tight end Zach Ertz and wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey. Ertz led the Eagles with 74 receptions for 824 yards while Agholor and Jeffrey combined for 119 catches and 1,557 yards. The trio accounted for 25 touchdowns as Philadelphia finished third in the league in scoring with 457 points.
The Falcons are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games as favorites.
- 14-6 ATS in their last 20 games vs. NFC opponents.
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games vs. opponents with a winning record.
The Eagles are:
- 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games as home underdogs.
- 0-4 ATS in their last four playoff games.
- 1-6 ATS in their last seven games as home underdogs between 0.5 and 3.0 points.
Ryan has split six lifetime games against the Eagles, throwing for 1,549 yards and 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He completed 18 of 33 passes for 267 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 24-15 loss in Philadelphia in the most recent meeting in Week 10 of last season.
Jones has racked up 24 catches for 399 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games versus Philadelphia, topping 100 yards in all three contests.
Foles has never faced the Falcons, though Ertz has nine catches for 101 yards in two games against Atlanta. Blount had 31 yards on 11 carries for New England in Super Bowl LI in helping the Patriots rally past the Falcons.