Here is the weekly look at Daily News staff predictions for the Eagles game and the key matchups:
And by the way, Michael Irvin predicted on the NFL Network this morning that "Michael Vick will get a standing ovation today in Atlanta against the Falcons." Seems unlikely, but we shall see.
I don't have much of a feel for this.
Did that loss at Chicago, with the five sacks allowed, mean maybe the Falcons aren’t ready to hit on all cylinders yet? Or did it mean they will be honed and stoked this week, determined to show their home crowd that they are worthy Super Bowl contenders?
Will their defense look way different, on a fast artificial surface, with the home crowd shaking the dome and the Eagles’ offensive line waiting to see the ball move, instead of moving off the count?
I think I more or less know where the Eagles are — not as unprepared as we might have feared going into the opener, tremendously talented, but still a long way from steady and solid. If that’s more or less where the Falcons are, I’ll take the Eagles. I think they have more talent. But the Falcons were 8-0 at home last year before getting spanked by Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay in the playoffs, so it’s hard to embrace the visitors with any real confidence.
While the Birds’ 31-13 victory over St. Louis was very satisfying, it was St. Louis. Let’s not hand out the Super Bowl rings just yet.
Yes, the Eagles have handled Atlanta rather easily the last 3 years (beating the Falcs, 31-17, at the Linc last season; 34-7, in Atlanta in 2009; and 27-14 here in 2008). That would suggest another easy win for Michael Vick and the Green Machine. However, nothing comes easy in Atlanta. Matt Ryan will make sure of that. Since 2008, when he stepped into the driver’s seat, Ryan has been pretty amazing, especially at home, where the Falcons have compiled a 20-5 record. Throw in a very profitable 78% cover rate since the middle of last season (seven of the last nine), and you have a team that is ready to rumble.
It’s the Eagles in a squeeze.
Ed Barkowitz: Falcons, 27-21
Bill Conlin: Falcons, 24-21
Paul Domowitch: Falcons, 20-17
Marcus Hayes: Falcons, 24-21
John Smallwood: Eagles, 27-21
1. Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Falcons RDE John Abraham: Peters held Abraham to one tackle and no sacks last year, but Abraham was nursing a sore back. He had two sacks vs. Bears last week. Peters had tenderness in the foot/achilles area and was pulled early from practice Friday. He is listed as questionable but is expected to play. Advantage: Even
2. Eagles MLB Casey Matthews vs. Falcons RB Michael Turner: Turner is a 247-pound truck who has second-level explosion. Matthews struggled last week vs. Rams. Advantage: Falcons
3. Eagles SLB Jamar Chaney vs. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez: Gonzalez still is one of the league’s best route-running tight ends. Chaney has 4.5 speed, but is new to the SAM position. Advantage: Falcons
HEARD ON THE BIRDS
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