Atlanta Falcons (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)
Week 10 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia. Pennsylvania
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds:ATL pk/PHI pk
Over/Under Total: 50.5
The Atlanta Falcons come to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to face the Philadelphia Eagles in week 10 NFC action. Atlanta is coming off the bye week and they were able to enter the break with a nice head of steam. A two-game losing streak threatened to derail them a bit and they were on the verge of dropping three in a row, before rallying to beat the Packers, before thumping Tampa to avenge a week one defeat on Thursday Night Football. At 6-3, they now look to make a postseason push. The Eagles are now 4-4 after a tough 28-23 road loss to the Giants on Sunday. After a 3-0 start, the Eagles are dealing with some major issues that weren't so evident in the first month of the season. But now, they are on the precipice of a free-fall and need a positive development against a good team.
Atlanta's last two games were critical. On the verge of falling to 4-4 against Green Bay, they were probably seeing flashes of last season, when a 5-0 start evaporated into a 7-9 mess. A last-minute TD drive enabled them to get out of the Georgia Dome with a win over the Packers, before Atlanta opened it up on the Bucs last Thursday, winning 43-28. It wasn't that close. Tampa opened well with a 7-0 lead. Atlanta took a 13-7 lead, before Tampa retook the lead, 14-13 in the second quarter. By early in the fourth quarter, it was 40-14 Atlanta, before Tampa added a few late touchdowns.
The Falcons' offense was in good form on the road last Thursday. Matt Ryan was excellent, throwing for 343 yards and no picks, though he did cough up a fumble. Ryan connected well with Julio Jones, who was over 100 yards with a TD. Mohamed Sanu is becoming a bigger part of the game and was tough to stop on Thursday. Taylor Gabriel continues to make headway, with Austin Hooper hauling in a TD catch. Ryan also hit Patrick DiMarco and Levine Toilolo with scores, showing that Ryan and the coaching staff have made a concerted effort to add more depth to the offense, with any number of different players able to make an impact. The run game, led by Devonta Freeman and emerging Teron Ward, is a big factor and keeps defenses honest.
The Atlanta defense can be a liability. They kept the Bucs off the board for long stretches on Thursday, but still allowed 323 yards through the air to Tampa. Their pass-defense is among the worst in the league. They allowed Tampa to convert eight third downs. To their credit, they are usually pretty good against the run. DT Grady Jarrett had two sacks against Tampa, with Vic Beasley having come around at times this season as a premier pass-rusher. They are far from iron-clad, but this defense has also scored three TDs on the season and can sometimes be pretty good, when not getting lit up in the aerial game.
Atlanta will be entering the bye week following this game and would love to do so at 7-3 instead of 6-4. The Falcons have shown a lot of upside this season. There seems to be something tenuous about it. Maybe it's their defense or how they fell off last season after a big start. You can almost sense people holding out in heaping praise on the Falcons, as they are perhaps expecting another collapse. But the comeback win over Green Bay may have helped them turn a corner and they now seem poised for a postseason run. That doesn't mean there won't be some bumps along the way.
The Eagles had some things go their way on Sunday, but could not overcome a suddenly bad secondary that yielded a bunch of big plays to the Giants including 4 passing touchdowns. They got two picks from Manning, however, including late when the turnover led to a chance to stage a final drive, which was stopped on downs. We're seeing a more exploitable defense in the past several weeks. We're also seeing an offense not hitting the same high notes it was earlier in the season.
We see Carson Wentz getting a bit wayward at this point. His throws seem to be missing their mark at a higher rate than before. On Sunday against the Giants, drives stalled out a lot, as place kicker Caleb Sturgis was seen on the field too often. They converted only 3 of 15 third down attempts. And Wentz tossed two picks that were critical. Without the miscues, the game was there to be had.
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As we see the offense losing some of its effectiveness, the Philly defense also has looked more dicey in recent weeks. A good passing defense all year has taken some knocks in recent weeks. After some sterling performances earlier this season, the Eagles gave up 57 combined points. Without a really strong defense, more of their shortcomings on offense shine brightly. But we're just seeing less of the Eagles making the most of what they have on both sides of the ball and they better rediscover their resourcefulness if they want to get back on the right track.
Having to play Atlanta is perhaps not an ideal spot to work things out for Philly. If their secondary has taken a step back, it's going to really come out against the Falcons. But at home and with things getting out of hand, Philly should be able to produce at the very least a strong effort. And against Atlanta's defense, I see the Eagles' offense having more success. With some level of trepidation, I'm taking the Eagles.
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