Game Predictions & Player Projections - ATL vs. PHI

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: ATL 16, PHI 20

(Line: ATL by 3, O/U = 41.5)

UPDATE: There are no players of note listed on the injury report.

The Falcons took down the Rams last week and are 5-4 in road games this year. The Eagles were 7-1 at home and realistically undefeated since they gave the win to the Cowboys in Week 17 when the game did not matter. The Falcons are favored and that's reflective of the impact of Carson Wentz not playing. And it is also a slap in the face to the Eagles to own the best record in the NFL and yet not be favored in a home game.

The Divisional round usually contains a road winner and Vegas believes this is the one.

Atlanta Falcons

1 @CHI 23-17 10 DAL 27-7
2 GB 34-23 11 @SEA 34-31
3 @DET 30-26 12 TB 34-20
4 BUF 17-23 13 MIN 9-14
5 BYE xxx 14 NO 20-17
6 MIA 17-20 15 @TB 24-21
7 @NE 7-23 16 @NO 13-23
8 @NYJ 25-20 17 CAR 22-10
9 @CAR 17-20 18 @LAR 26-13
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL@PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     270,1
RB Devonta Freeman 40 5-60  
RB Tevin Coleman 20 3-20  
WR Julio Jones   5-70  
WR Mohamed Sanu   3-40,1  
WR Taylor Gabriel   3-20  
TE Austin Hooper   3-40  
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons may have had the highest scoring offense in 2016, but they've been winning games mostly thanks to a defense that has held scores low enough to let an average offense be enough. The Rams were the highest scoring offense for 2017 and yet were held to only 13 points by these visiting Falcons. Experience in the playoffs matter and the Falcons showed that to be true. And defense wins at least wild card games. The Falcons get to face the Wentz-less Eagles and that defense will remain a big factor.

QUARTERBACK: Matt Ryan-Lite hasn't thrown for more than one touchdown since Week 11 and he only managed 218 yards in Los Angeles last week. Ryan scored in every road game but never more than twice. He threw only two interceptions in his last seven away venues but was sacked eight times over his last two away games in New Orleans and last week in Los Angeles.

RUNNING BACK: Tevin Coleman played a smaller road in road games this year and ran in just one score in the week that Devonta Freeman was out. He's been little used as a receiver this year though rolled up seven catches for 68 yards and one score over the final two road games. He was held to only one catch in almost all other matchups.

Devonta Freeman hasn't scored via the pass this year but ran in a score in half of his away games including last week when he ran for 66 yards on 18 carries against the Rams. Freeman usually ends up with around a dozen runs and a few catches per game. He broke 100 rushing yards only twice this year though both were in road games.

WIDE RECEIVER: Julio Jones may have been little used in the end zone this season but he helped beat the Rams last week when he caught nine passes for 94 yards and one score. He's getting rested during the week to help keep him healthy and he's been good for at least 80 yards per game for the last month. He was more productive in away venues than when he was at home, recording five games with more than 90 yards.

Mohamed Sanu remains a good complementary receiver and four of his five touchdowns came away from home. He remains below 50 yards in almost all road games though he turned in 75 yards on four catches last week. Taylor Gabriel has been a nonfactor this year despite a promising 2016 season when he caught six touchdowns opposed to the single score for this year.

TIGHT END: Austin Hooper's second season was promising but he never became more than an occasional outlet for Matt Ryan. Hooper only scored three times this year and rarely accounted for more than two or three short catches.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Eagles defense has not allowed more than one offensive touchdown over their last six home games. The Eagles at home have been great against the pass though they have faced few elite quarterbacks there. Ryan has been on a streak of one-touchdown games and that's right in line with what the Eagles usually permit. The yardage could be higher than usual as well, especially considering that the Eagles sport one of the best rushing defenses. No running back has rushed in a touchdown in Philly and given the limited carries for the backfield, neither running back will have a big rushing effort. Freeman and Coleman both could see more use as a receiver this week though that should favor Freeman the most.

Any passing score should favor the wideouts the most. The Eagles have not allowed more than 80 yards to any of the last seven visitors and only four opponents managed the one passing touchdown to a wideout. The Eagles secondary at home is very underrated. Jones has been on a hot streak the last month of the season and could have moderate to good yardage but is unlikely to score. A passing touchdown would normally end up with a secondary receiver which could mean Justin Hardy, Mohamed Sanu or even Taylor Gabriel.

The Eagles defense at home is very good and feeling extra motivated with the perceived disrespect that Vegas gave this game by favoring the Falcons.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 20 12 7 24 8 24
Preventing Fantasy Points PHI 14 2 25 14 3 11

Philadelphia Eagles

1 @WAS 30-17 10 BYE xxx
2 @KC 20-27 11 @DAL 37-9
3 NYG 27-24 12 CHI 31-3
4 @LAC 26-24 13 @SEA 10-24
5 ARI 34-7 14 @LAR 43-35
6 @CAR 28-23 15 @NYG 34-29
7 WAS 34-24 16 OAK 19-10
8 SF 33-10 17 DAL 0-6
9 DEN 51-23      
News | Statistics | Roster
PHI vs. ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Nick Foles     240,2
RB Jay Ajayi 50 3-20  
RB LeGarrette Blount 20 1-10  
WR Nelson Agholor   5-60,1  
WR Alshon Jeffrey   4-40  
WR Torrey Smith   2-30  
TE Zach Ertz 0 7-70,1
PK   2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The loss of Carson Wentz in Week 14 hasn't made a major difference so far since the Eagles went on to win the rest of the games other than the giveaway season finale against the Cowboys. Nick Foles enters the playoffs under center for the Eagles and that's at least a concern since the strength of the offense wasn't one or two star players but instead the mix-and-match style of Wentz that totaled plenty of points but never relied on any single receiver too much. A boatload of moderately talented players can excel with a great quarterback as the link pin. What happens with an itinerate journeyman on his third NFL team in the last four years is much less promising.

QUARTERBACK: Nick Foles started out with the Eagles, playing in 28 games over his first three years and producing up to 2,891 yards and 27 touchdowns (2013). But he left in 2015 to join the Rams and then the Chiefs in 2016. He's back in Philly this year and finds himself in a spot where he'll either greatly help or harm his career. Foles passed for 237 yards and four scores in his first start this year visiting the Giants but then was held to only 163 yards and one score when the Raiders visited in Week 16.

RUNNING BACK: LeGarrette Blount's role has been dialed back in the last month when he was limited to only seven or eight rushes per game and had no role as a receiver. Blount only scored twice this year and never in a road game. Jay Ajayi scored once as a rusher and a receiver as an Eagle. He gets around 12 to 15 carries per game recently and added at least a couple of receptions. Weeks like this is exactly why they brought him in. Ajayi should see even more work this week with a shakier passing game.

WIDE RECEIVER: Nelson Agholor enjoyed a breakout season with eight touchdowns and he caught seven passes for 59 yards and one score in the win over the Giants with Foles starting. Agholor was held to only four catches for 35 yards by the Raiders. Alshon Jeffery also scored in the Giants matchup with four receptions for 49 yards but he was then held to no catches in the win over the Raiders. Torrey Smith only caught two passes for 17 yards over the two starts by Foles. None of these wideouts had many big games with Wentz as the starter though they never had any bad ones either and the duo combined for 17 touchdowns this year.

TIGHT END: Zach Ertz scored eight touchdowns this year and three came in road venues. He's been reliable for around 50 yards in most games and has been just as important to Foles who threw him a score in New York in Week 15 when he ended with six catches for 56 yards. Ertz followed that up with nine receptions for 81 yards in the win over the Raiders which was nearly half of all passing yardage.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Falcons always allow at least one touchdown to opposing quarterbacks if not two or even three in road games. The yardage is usually very good though never over 300 yards. Foles should end up with at least one passing score in this one and two is possible. A second touchdown could end up as a rush by Ajayi just as easily.

Ertz never had any drop off with Foles taking over and goes against a defense that allowed three scores to tight ends on the road. They held Rob Gronkowski to only 51 yards on three catches but Jimmy Graham (7-58, TD) scored on them in Week 11. Ertz is the most likely to score of any of the receivers.

The Falcons allowed one passing score to a wideout in seven of their last eight road games and the lone exception - Carolina - isn't exactly noted for their deep passing game. Both Jeffery and Agholor should manage average games here with one of them scoring. That favors Agholor slightly. This game is predicated mostly on the Eagles defense. If they can play true to form in a home game, they can prevent Foles from having to throw too much and get in bad situations.

Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 2 21 14 1 13 5
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 18 15 12 12 16 4

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