4 storylines to follow for Falcons vs. Eagles playoff matchup

The Falcons are the defending NFC Champions, losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51. The Falcons will be seeing one of the best defences in the National Football League as Philadelphia ranked fourth in yards allowed, first against the run and fourth in scoring (18.4 ppg). They have not won a playoff game since January 1, 2009, and have not won a home playoff game since January 1, 2007. The Dolphins won that game 20-17.

So what difference did Carson Wentz's season-ending ACL injury make?

Coverage of Saturday's game between the Eagles and Falcons takes place on NBC beginning at 4:35 pm ET from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.

The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals.

"Basically, a touchdown that they subtracted off of each game so shout out to that defense".

However, Pittsburgh's offensive line ranks No. 1 in adjusted sack rate, which should negate some of the Jags' pass rush and with Blake Bortles looking like his old self, I'm going to give the Steelers the edge. The running game for the Eagles saw LeGarrette Blount lead the way, with Jay Ajayi coming through strong for much of the second half of the season.

With a defense that's playing really well, the Eagles should stay in this game.

The Falcons finished the regular season with a 10-6 record to finish 3 in the NFC South. Atlanta started out with three straight wins, but then fell into a skid and lost four of their next five.

Schwartz's unit blitzed Matt Ryan more than the 2016 NFL MVP was used to and Ryan responded with one of his worst games of the season. In receiving, Julio Jones posted 1,364 yards and three touchdowns in 83 catches while Sanu added 632 yards and five touchdowns in 60 receptions. Limiting the two talented Falcons running backs will force the offense to become one dimensional. Yeah, Ryan and the offense get all of the attention. Atlanta's defense is the better of the two in this game, which is why I will lay the points on the road. The last time the Philadelphia Eagles even had an appearance was back in 2013. Prior to that, they averaged 31.1 points and 390.4 yards of offense per game, good for the best and the third-best in the league.

On this week's Access Vikings podcast - available on startribune.com and iTunes, in case you shamefully haven't listened to it before - I was asked a very important question by a reader: Which team would I wager more tacos on in the other NFC playoff game, the Falcons or the Eagles? Hopefully they did not spend too much time celebrating because the New England Patriots are ready for them.

  • Julie Sanders