Eagles defense hold strong to beat Falcons and make NFC Championship game

011418JimSchwartz

According to Pro Football Reference's play index, only six previous home teams have been underdogs in the divisional round since 1975, but all of them were No. 2-seeded teams. It was the template of what the Eagles needed to do to win. On Saturday, the Eagles didn't need Foles to be all-world.

The Eagles have played with arguably the NFL MVP for the majority of the season and now are a home underdog to the Falcons.

Foles is 65-for-105 (61.9 percent) for 842 yards with five touchdown passes and one interception in those three games against Cover-3 defenses.

It will be interesting to see how Doug Pederson and his coaching staff want to attack this game.

The Eagles now have won 16 straight games when leading after three quarters, even if their 12-10 at the time didn't feel so safe. The Eagles missed the extra point following that score.

Albeit the Falcons are favored to win, the Eagles will provide a challenge. However, this week could be where Ajayi gets a majority of the workload and sets the tone.


The Falcons' raw numbers were better in the return game, but Andre Roberts also cost them plenty with some bad decisions. Then again, dome teams playing on the road, were, you know, playing on the road, where it's hard to play regardless of the temperature.

The Vikings have changed their look since then, too, with quarterback Case Keenum taking over, but two constants are their No. 1-ranked defense and 9-2 ATS record over their last 11 games. But in the end, he was every bit as efficient as he needed to be to propel the Eagles to the NFL Championship Game next weekend. Pressing so much and anxious about so many things. "Having this time to self-scout, go through practice and everything, you realize that you just go out there and play". Agholor finished the regular season with 62 receptions for 768 yards and tied for second on the team with eight touchdowns.

If the Saints are to emerge with the win they will need far more from running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara who were held in check by the Carolina Panthers last week and it is essential that they take some of the pressure off Brees or he will be devoured by the new purple people eaters. Look for him to be targeted early and often as his redemption season continues. The weather will start out relatively mild for a January day in Philly but steadily drop during the course of the game, with temperatures hitting the low 20s (with a wind chill much lower than that) by the fourth quarter. They fumbled the ball four times, losing two. One of the key reasons why the Eagles have been effective running the ball is due to their running back-by-committee system.

The Eagles will be playing with a chip on their shoulders.

When a team hasn't appeared in a playoff game in four years, coverage of that first game is going to be thorough. If they can pound the ball with those two for a few quarters they will wear down the Falcons defense.

With the win, the Eagles (14-3) will host next week's NFC title game against either the Saints or Vikings, who play Sunday at Minnesota's U.S. Bank Stadium.

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