The Philadelphia Eagles are not exactly getting the respect the number one seed in the NFL playoffs usually gets. And it is all because they lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz last month.
Wentz tore his anterior cruciate ligament on December 10 and has been out since, and the Eagles offense has struggled with Nick Foles at the helm.
Because of that, the Atlanta Falcons are slight favourites to beat the Eagles in the NFC divisional round on Saturday.
The Falcons (11-6) are the first sixth-seeded team to be favoured over a top seed since the NFL expanded the playoffs to 12 sides in 1990.
HOW WILL FOLES FARE?
He was not very good in Philadelphia's final two games. The Eagles (13-3) failed to score in a 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys to close the season as Foles was just four of 11 for 39 yards with an interception in the defeat. That was after he went 19 of 38 for 163 yards with a touchdown and interception in an ugly 19-10 win over the Oakland Raiders in week 16.
Foles, who has thrown for 537 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions this season, will have to be at his best against an opportunistic Falcons defense that forced a pair of turnovers in last weekend’s 26-13 wildcard win over the Los Angeles Rams.
CAN AJAYI REPLICATE HIS EARLIER SUCCESS?
A mid-season acquisition by the Eagles, the former Miami Dolphins running back lit up the Falcons on October 15. He ran for 130 yards on 26 carries in a 20-17 Dolphins victory in Atlanta.
The Eagles can help take some of the pressure off Foles with a heavy dose of Jay Ajayi. While the third-year back was with the Dolphins, Miami went 7-0 whenever he had 24 or more carries. He ran for more than 200 yards in three of those games.
WILL THE EAGLES BE ABLE TO STOP ATLANTA'S OFFENSE?
The Eagles had the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and the league’s top rush defense. The Falcons have not run the ball with nearly the efficiency they did last year on their way to the Super Bowl, but Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman remain a formidable tandem.
The bigger concern, though, is the outside with receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. When teams game plan to stop Jones, Sanu has a knack for having huge games. In the five games in which Sanu scored this season, Jones was kept out of end zone.
While the Eagles defensive backs will have to contain Sanu and Jones, they cannot let someone else — like receivers Taylor Gabriel or Justin Hardy or tight end Austin Hooper (those three have combined for seven touchdowns this season) — beat them.
|Cardinals keep pace in wildcard race with win over Giants|
|Djokovic hits Federer, pair lose in doubles at Laver Cup|
|Nowitzki likely to come off bench for Mavericks in 21st season|
|Red Wings´ Green battling ´virus that attacked his liver´|
|They said I couldn´t score goals – Ibrahimovic hits back at early critics|
|Slater charged, set to miss Grand Final|
|Rose not changing approach alongside Woods|
|Woods ready to ´hang in there´ at East Lake|
|Shaqiri´s time will come at Liverpool – Klopp|
|Richarlison: I used to copy some of Neymar´s haircuts|
|Brady says Gordon is ´really eager to get in there´ despite limited practice|
|NBA changes clock-reset, ´clear path´ foul rules|
|Tigers´ Martinez will play final game on Saturday before retiring|
|Sanchez to start for Man United – Mourinho|
|Speight saves Ulster in thrilling Cheetahs draw|
|Simmonds at the double as Chiefs stay perfect|
|Woods, Rose share Tour Championship lead|
|Ice-cool Shoaib denies Afghanistan in final over|
|CAF Champions League Review: Wydad Casablanca out as TP Mazembe pay penalty|
|Eden inspires rout as Castleford book Wigan semi-final|
|Thiem & Wawrinka reach St. Petersburg semi-finals|
|No change to Aguero selection despite new contract, warns Guardiola|
|Woods and Rose share Tour Championship lead|
|Wigan Athletic 1 Bristol City 0: Three on the trot for improving Latics|
|Josh Rosen will play ´when time is right,´ Cardinals GM says|
|Eagles RBs Ajayi & Sproles out Sunday v Colts|
|Ronaldo looking forward after Champions League red card - Alex Sandro|
|Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister after four seasons|
|Inter captain Icardi can improve - Spalletti|
|Jadeja and Rohit shine as India maintain 100 per cent record|
|Fisher shares lead in Vilamoura after record-breaking 59|
|Messi the best I´ve seen - Lamela|
|Silva demands end to Gomes ´rumours´ and targets early October return|
|Milner over Pogba, says Souness|
|Brazil call up Malcom, drop Thiago Silva and Willian|
|Denly thought Test chance may never come|
|Benitez tells FA to examine Zaha red card comments|
|Bjorn unsure of future after Ryder Cup|
|Tebas still optimistic over Girona-Barcelona in Miami despite RFEF setback|
|Emery promises more chances for frustrated Leno|
|Cahill considering Chelsea departure in January|
|Kaepernick to receive Harvard´s highest honour in African, African-American studies|
|Defending champion Ostapenko dumped out of Korea Open|
|Mourinho is an inspiration - Nuno|
|Witty Wilson ´delighted´ to be praised for Fisher heroics while sitting on couch|
|Burns, Denly and Stone in England squad for Sri Lanka Tests|
|Aspas reveals interest from Real Madrid, Atletico|
|Arsenal´s Mkhitaryan a doubt for Everton match|
|Klopp demands Liverpool ´stay angry´ against Southampton|
|Long-serving Tabarez signs four-year Uruguay extension|
|Injured Mendy ruled out of Cardiff trip|
|Douglas Costa out up to a month with ankle & thigh injuries|
|Slater shrugs off Feki hit amid Grand Final suspension concerns|
|Crisis? What crisis? Klopp unconcerned by Salah form|
|I didn´t convince him, he decided for himself - Guardiola says thanks to Aguero|
|Leno frustrated by Arsenal bench role|
|Joshua almost 2st heavier than Povetkin for Wembley bout|
|From salvation to the record books - Fisher revels in European Tour´s first 59|
|Lahm says Germany best for Euro 2024 as UEFA publishes report|
|Lopetegui backs Modric over Ronaldo for individual prizes|
|Goretzka to start against former club Schalke, confirms Kovac|
|Fisher shoots first 59 in European Tour history|
|Simeone defends Ronaldo after controversial Champions League red|
|Slater sees Storm into Grand Final, awaits fate over ´shoulder charge´|
|Hogg to miss Scotland´s November Tests following ankle surgery|
|Osaka through as Azarenka and Garcia crash out|
|Burgess weighing up legal options after being cleared in Rabbitohs investigation|
|Uncapped Cottrell and Gordon named in Wallabies squad|
|He´s done fantastic work - Mourinho hails Wolves boss Nuno|
|Joshua v Povetkin: No need for fireworks on AJ´s Wembley return|