September 15, 2019
The Eagles will look to improve to 2-0 on Sunday night when they head into Atlanta to take on Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Under Doug Pederson, the Birds are now 4-0 in season openers, but they've lost in Week 2 in each of the last two years.
Can Philly buck that trend in 2019 and hold off the Falcons, who are desperate for a win to avoid starting 0-2? Here's a look at five numbers to keep an eye on in the form of our weekly over/unders...
That's the current total being offered over at Bovada, and while it's a big number, it might not be big enough. If you look at our staff predictions this week, five of our six writers have this game hitting the over, but there haven't been a ton of points scored between these two teams in their recent matchups over the last three seasons. In fact, in those three games, all of which took place at the Linc, the Eagles and Falcons combined for an average of just over 31 total points.
However, those games were all at the Linc, and the Falcons are typically a much better team at home. So will Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense look more explosive in their own stadium? That's a safe bet, and combined with how explosive the Eagles offense looked in the second half last week — not to mention how effective their defense made Washington's offense look in the first half — it seems like the over is a no-brainer here. It's also worth mentioning that the Falcons offense didn't look inept against Minnesota. They actually moved the ball relatively well, and then seemed to shoot themselves in the foot.
Here's more from The Philly Godfather, who thinks you should hammer the over in this one:
The Eagles offense shook off any rust they had coming into the first game of the season, and went out and scored 25 points in the second half vs. the Redskins. Atlanta, on the other hand, only put up 12 total points in their game against the Vikings but they did have 345 total yards on offense (76 more than the Vikings), and had nine more first downs than Minnesota while averaging 5.1 yards per play. The three turnovers really hindered their scoring opportunities last week.
With that being said, we'll take the over here.
Carson Wentz may have only had three passing touchdowns on paper last week, but if not for a stupid* NFL rule he would've had four — Alshon Jeffery's second TD was actually a run because Wentz it was technically a backwards pass.
Last week was Wentz' 10th career game with three or more passing touchdowns in 41 career starts. And last season, Wentz had just three such games after having six such games in 2017. But with the conventional wisdom suggesting this will be a shootout — and should remain close throughout — it's safe to assume Wentz will have plenty of chances to throw the ball.
This will also be Wentz' first game against Atlanta since his rookie season, and he failed to reach the end zone in that one. It's one of just four games in Wentz' career in which he didn't record a single touchdown (passing or rushing). But this isn't the same Carson Wentz that the Falcons saw in 2016. And the weapons around him are much, much better.
It's always hard to predict passing touchdowns, because you never know when a big passing play will get a team down to the goal line, only for them to punch it in on the ground (or, you know, a backward pass turns a passing touchdown into a rushing TD). But unless the Eagles get themselves out to a big lead, Wentz should have the opportunities, and that's all we can hope for here.
Sure, the Eagles have won three straight, but Julio Jones hasn't been making it easy on Philly. In five career regular-season games against the Birds, Julio has averaged close to 120 yards per game and has found the end zone three times. In his lone postseason matchup against the Birds, Jones added another 101 yards.
But as Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz have made clear, they're less concerned with Jones' total yards than they are with keeping him out of the end zone. After the Eagles secondary didn't inspire a ton of confidence against Case Keenum and Washington in Week 1, it's hard to see them shutting Jones down for four quarters. Add to that the fact that Jones is averaging 9.5 receptions and 136.5 yards in his last four meeting with the Birds (including the playoffs), and there's no way I can take the under here.
Last week, the Eagles really spread the ball out among their three running backs, but it was extremely interesting that Jordan Howard finished third among that group in touches with eight, behind Darren Sproles (12) and Miles Sanders (12). But it's what Howard was able to accomplish with those limited touches, rushing for 44 yards on six carries and adding another 11 yards on a pair of receptions.
So why was Howard used so little if he was running so effectively? Perhaps that was in part due to the Eagles falling behind so early, and forcing the Eagles to throw more than they might have liked. And when that was working, they seemed to stick with it.
The Eagles might again find themselves in passing situations if this game turns into a shootout, but after a solid Week 1 performance, it's hard to see Duce Staley and the Eagles not at least trying to give Howard a few more touches. Whether or not that fits into the flow of the game remains to be seen. Still, I think he hits the over in this one (albeit barely).
With this game expected to be a shootout, one of the things the Eagles defense can do to help their cause is create a few turnovers, something they failed to do in Week 1. That comes on the heels of the team forcing just 17 turnovers all of last season (after tallying 31 a year prior).
Today, the Eagles could have some chances after the Falcons turned the ball over three times in their 28-12 loss to the Vikings in the opener.
Since I've taking the over in each of the first four categories, why stop now?
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