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September 14, 2019

Week 2 NFL picks: Rounding up the experts' predictions for Eagles vs. Falcons

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Cox-Freeman_091419_usat James Lang/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox tackles Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman in the first quarter of last year's opener at Lincoln Financial Field.

For the fourth year in a row under Doug Pederson, the Eagles are 1-0. Unfortunately, in two of the last three years, the Birds have dropped their Week 2 matchup, both of which came on the road. 

So will Carson Wentz and Co. be able to buck that trend on Sunday night when they face the Falcons in Atlanta? It won't be easy, despite another trend working in the Eagles' favor after they've won three straight against the Falcons.

But that three-wins-in-a-row-over-Atlanta thing can be a bit misleading. Each of those three Eagles wins have come at home — and yes, the Falcons, who were playing on the road last week when they got stomped by the Vikings, are a much better team at home. Moreover, the Eagles haven't won in Atlanta since 2009 and have won just twice there in the last 23 years. 

But that's probably not the narrative you've been hearing all week. That's likely because the Eagles are road favorites in this one, and many are picking the Birds to go into the ATL and come away with their second win of the season. Still, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and the rest of the Falcons will present a difficult test for Philly when the two sides meet on Sunday Night Football.

We've broken down the injuries, given you some matchups to watch and offered our own predictions for this one. Now, as we do every weekend, it's time to take a look around the nation to see how the various experts, both local and national, think Sunday's matchup is going to play out.

•  PhillyVoice staff: Five of our six writers are picking the Eagles to improve to 2-0 on Sunday night. Here's what Jimmy Kempski, who predicted a 33-24 win for the Birds, had to say...

Because Matt Ryan was the league' MVP in 2016, and because they had the No. 1 offense in the league that year, and because they nearly won a Super Bowl, many still think of the Falcons as a good team, self included, until I actually dug a little deeper on them this season. More recently, I had a moment of clarity. This team stinks.

Why? Well...

  1. Their offensive line stinks.
  2. Their defensive line stinks.

Conclusion: When you stink in the trenches on both sides of the ball, you're going to stink.

•  ESPN staff: Six of their 10 experts are picking the Eagles go into Atlanta and beat the Falcons.

•  Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Eagles 30, Falcons 27

Bold prediction: Tight end Zach Ertz will score two touchdowns. Week 1 was all about the long ball to DeSean Jackson, but Carson Wentz will have to play a more methodical brand of offense against Atlanta's Cover 3 defense, which will give up passes underneath to avoid the big play. That should lead to a good day for Ertz.

•  Vaughn McClure, ESPN.com: Eagles 28, Falcons 24

•  Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Eagles 31, Falcons 27

It's cliche to say teams win up front. It's basic to point out that the Eagles' mammoth offensive line should handle Atlanta's erratic edge rushers. It's repetitive to mention that the Falcons haven't solved their offensive line issues, especially after losing first-round guard Chris Lindstrom to injury. It's still all true.

When the Eagles edged the Falcons in the 2017 Divisional Round, it felt like these two teams could be battling for NFC supremacy for a while. But the Eagles have continued to evolve while the Falcons appear stuck in quicksand, fixing the same old problems, waiting for Dan Quinn's defensive know-how to show up, wasting Matt Ryan's increasingly underrated prime. It's only Week 2, so why does it feel like the Falcons are running out of time? 

•  CBSSports.com staff: Just three of their eight experts are picking the Eagles to beat the Falcons. Here's what Pete Prisco, who picked the Falcons to win, had to say...

This should be a fun shootout. The Falcons looked lifeless last week in the first half in their loss to the Vikings. The Eagles did as well, but rallied in the second half to beat the Redskins. The Falcons can't handle going 0-2 to start the season, so they will find a way to win a shootout. Matt Ryan gets the best of Carson Wentz.  

Pick: Falcons 33, Eagles 30


MORE: Eagles vs. Falcons: Predictions, odds and more for Week 2 matchup


•  OddsShark: Their computer model is predicting the Eagles lose a close but relatively low-scoring game, at least compared to what most people are predicting.

•  Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 27, Falcons 21 

The season could quickly go off the rails for the Falcons, which could get owner Arthur Blank to move his finger toward the reset button.

•  Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 20, Falcons 13

It’s hard not to be down on the Falcons after seeing the way they laid an egg in Week One. I’m expecting the Eagles’ defense to stifle the Falcons’ offense again, and Atlanta will suddenly find itself with very little margin for error in the NFC playoff race.

•  Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Eagles 26, Falcons 21

It's hard to be comfortable betting on the Atlanta Falcons at this point.

The Falcons covered the spread only five times in 2018 and were humiliated by the Vikings in their season opener. So in this case, our analysts are applying KISS logic: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

"The Falcons are a better team than they showed last week in Minnesota, and Philly's secondary was suboptimal against Washington," Davenport said. "But there's no way I'm picking the Falcons against the Eagles after that Twin Cities turd." ...

•  The Athletic: National football writer and former Eagles beat guy Sheil Kapadia picked each game against the spread. Here's what he had to say about Sunday Night's Battle of the Birds in Atlanta...

Whichever team wins the matchup between the Falcons’ offensive line and the Eagles’ defensive line will likely win this game. Matt Ryan was sacked four times, took seven hits and tossed a pair of interceptions in Atlanta’s Week 1 loss to the Vikings. As Jason Butt outlines well here, left tackle Jake Matthews didn’t play well, the Falcons could be going with a rotation at right tackle, and they’ll start Jamon Brown (a healthy scratch last week) at right guard. The Eagles, meanwhile, lost defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a foot injury in the opener. They’ll need a dominant performance (very possible) from Fletcher Cox and more disruption from defensive ends Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. The Falcons (yet another home dog) need this game badly.

The pick: Falcons (+1.5)

•  SBNation staff: It's an even split, with five taking the Eagles and five, including their guest dog of the week, Blue, picking the Falcons.

•  Bleeding Green Nation staff: Eight of their nine writers are taking the Eagles.


MORE: All of Jimmy Kempski's Week 2 NFL picks


  Inquirer.com: Two of their three beat writers picked the Eagles to win. Here's how Les Bowen, who picked the Eagles in a 31-28 finish, sees the game playing out...

I guess at this point I have to see Dan Quinn beat Doug Pederson and Matt Ryan outgun a healthy Carson Wentz. It’ll be loud indoors, but I think the Eagles can cut down on the confusion by running the ball early, allowing them to establish some rhythm, before they test the Falcons’ secondary with a full array of weapons.

My biggest worry is the lack of pressure Jim Schwartz’s D-line got on Case Keenum last week. Now that task looks even tougher, without Malik Jackson. Maybe a shootout?

•  NBC Sports Philadelphia: Three of their five Eagles writers picked the Birds to win, but one of the two who didn't was Hall of Famer Ray Didinger, who picked a 28-24 win for Atlanta. Here's some of what he had to say...

Since 2000, this series has been dominated by the home team. The Eagles have won nine of the 10 games played in Philadelphia. The Falcons have won three of the five played in Atlanta, including the last two (35-31 in 2011, 26-24 in 2015). The Falcons were beaten badly last Sunday in Minnesota, which makes me think they will bounce back with a big primetime effort on Sunday.

I'm not down on the Eagles — I still think they are headed for the playoffs — but they are walking into a tough spot here.

•  NJ.com staff: Four of NJ.com's seven writers picked the Eagles, including beat writer Mike Kaye...

The Eagles built momentum in Week 1 with their comeback win over the Washington Redskins. The Falcons faltered on the road against the Minnesota Vikings last week. While Atlanta needs this game more and has the home-field advantage, the Eagles seem like a team ready to surge after some early adversity. Doug Pederson is also 3-0 against the Falcons during his tenure.

PICK: Eagles 24, Falcons 20

•  Adrian Fedkiw, Philly Influencer: Falcons 30, Eagles 27

I didn’t like what I saw out of Philadelphia’s pass rush in Week 1 and it’s the biggest reason for the secondary’s problems. Week 2 for whatever reasons always gives the Eagles fits. I think the Falcons start hot, the Eagles battle back, but fall short in the end.

•  Todd Haislop, Sporting News: Eagles 24, Falcons 20

A lot can be said about a team based on how it responds to adversity. The Eagles fell into a 17-0 hole in the first half against the division-rival Redskins last week, and they stormed back to a two-score lead by the time the fourth quarter arrived. The Falcons fell into a similar hole against the Vikings — granted, a tougher opponent than Washington — and continued to struggle until garbage time. This is a tricky spot for Atlanta, a team with promise hoping to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. The Falcons will need a Herculean effort from several of their offensive stars against the Eagles' defense.

•  Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 34, Falcons 31

Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ passing game will stay on fire, while the Eagles’ pass defense will continue to have issues against noted Philly-area native Matt Ryan, who isalways best athis new home in the dome. The Falcons’ run defense got gashed in Minnesota, and the Eagles can dominate them with their offensive line. This sets up for a Sunday night thriller full of chunk plays. The final score won’t resemble the 15-10 of the 2018 opener, but it will show a repeat winner.


RELATED: Philly Godfather: Bet the over, expect a shootout between Eagles and Falcons in Week 2


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