In NFL playoffs it's all about proven quarterbacks

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Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills said Monday he does not foresee Julio Jones' red zone struggles becoming especially relevant to Mills' preparation for the divisional round playoff matchup Saturday with the Atlanta Falcons. The types of plays we did not see from Foles in his last two outings. In their 26-13 wild-card win over the Rams, Atlanta's offense was not particularly sharp. The Patriots, who went 13-3 this season and are the No. 1 seed, got handed a chip on their shoulder because of people questioning whether Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft like one another. But the backbreaking touchdown on Saturday night came from Jones, who hauled in an eight-yard score from Ryan with 5:48 left to play and finished the game with nine catches (on 10 targets) for 94 yards and a touchdown. Yes, a defender was applying pressure to Clay, but a good receiver holds onto that one and makes it 7-0. The Falcons entered that game with a 4-4 record, plunging their playoff odds to around 10%.

Follow Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein as he brings you the latest coverage from the Falcons-Eagles game Saturday evening from Lincoln Financial Field. The Falcons are 1-2 in the playoffs against the Eagles, with their only victory coming in 1978 when Atlanta defeated Philadelphia 14-13 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the former home of the Falcons before the Georgia Dome.

Last week, prior to wild-card weekend, I took a look at the three possible opponents for the Eagles (Falcons, Panthers, Saints), concluding that Atlanta was the best chance for the Eagles to survive and advance.

"He's not throwing the ball as much, but that's because of the run game they have, you know what I mean?"

Certainly, there are other factors at play, but with the importance that quarterbacks carry, the Falcons likely should be favored in this game.

Oct 1 2017 Carson CA USA Philadelphia Eagles running back Le Garrette Blount is defended by Los Angeles Chargers strong safety Jahleel Addae during the first quarter at Stub Hub Center. Mandatory Credit Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Credit Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles are about to make some National Football League postseason history.

Atlanta, which finished the regular season ranked ninth in total defense, will not be given the task of stopping an Eagles' offense that was led by quarterback Carson Wentz, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in a 43-35 victory against the Los Angeles Rams on December 10. In temperatures between 21 and 40, Ryan has career statistics of a 54.8% completion rate, averaging 263.5 yards per game with five touchdowns and one interception.

That said, winning won't be as easy without injured quarterback Carson Wentz in command of the offense.

Backup Nick Foles took over for Wentz late in that December 10 victory over the Rams and helped the Eagles to wins the following two weeks before the team rested most of its starters in a season-ending 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. As opposed to a yards-per-attempt metric, NEP shows the expected points added on each play, illustrating the enormous difference between a three-yard completion on 3rd and 2 and that same completion on 3rd and 4. The Eagles' No. 1-ranked rush defense needs to stuff the ground game and make Atlanta predictable. "You see them feature those running backs [Davonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman] a lot more". Foles knows he needs to be better to compete in the playoffs but he isn't lacking confidence, stating, in a post-game transcript provided by the team, "we also know what we're capable of and how talented we can be because of how we play together".

"Any time you can play teams at home, that's exactly what you want", Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen.


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