Including the playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have played each other each of the last four seasons. The Eagles have won three of those games, but each of those wins were in Philadelphia. While Matt Ryan is 0-3 in his last three trips to his hometown, he’s beaten the Eagles the most recent two times they played in Atlanta, including in 2015 during Dan Quinn’s first season.
Therefore, Atlanta fans should be fairly familiar with the Eagles, but here are three things to know about the 2019 version of the Eagles.
First, Philadelphia added two new pieces to its offense this past spring to make the unit even more dynamic. The Eagles brought back veteran receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted running back Miles Sanders in the second round.
Jackson already made his presence felt last week, catching two 50-plus yard touchdowns in a comeback victory against Washington. Philadelphia fell behind 17-0 in that game, but Jackson scored two of the next three touchdowns to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead in the third quarter.
Sanders didn’t have a great statistical debut, but he is part of a three-headed backfield with Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles, which began rumbling in the third quarter during the comeback. Containing Jackson may very well be the biggest key to the game for Atlanta, but Sanders is just one of many other weapons of concern.
Secondly, Eagles coach Doug Pederson likes to gamble. Fans who closely follow the league already know that, but I mean it, Pederson really loves to gamble. In Week 1, with the Eagles trailing 20-7, Pederson went for fourth-and-1 at the Philadelphia 34-yard line. If his offense failed to convert that attempt, Washington would have already been in field goal range while threatening to go ahead by more than two possessions.
But the Eagles did convert and drove down the field for a touchdown on that drive. It turned the game around, as that was the first of three straight touchdown drives for Philadelphia.
After taking a 27-20 lead on a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Pederson gambled again with a two-point conversion attempt. Rather than settling for an eight-point lead with an extra-point, the two-pointer put Washington behind by nine (two scores).
Expect Pederson to take similar calculated risks on Sunday night.
Lastly, the Eagles defensive front will be another difficult test for Atlanta. Even if the Falcons offensive line had played well in Minnesota -- which it didn’t -- that would be true because the unit lost rookie guard Chris Lindstrom to a broken foot this week.
But Atlanta will be starting a new line combination against a defense that finished sixth in rushing yards allowed and eighth in sacks last year. Even without Malik Jackson, who the Eagles have lost for the season, Philadelphia defensive line will be tough to handle in Week 2.