The Philadelphia Eagles are not exactly getting the respect the number one seed in the NFL playoffs usually gets. And it is all because they lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz last month.
Wentz tore his anterior cruciate ligament on December 10 and has been out since, and the Eagles offense has struggled with Nick Foles at the helm.
Because of that, the Atlanta Falcons are slight favourites to beat the Eagles in the NFC divisional round on Saturday.
The Falcons (11-6) are the first sixth-seeded team to be favoured over a top seed since the NFL expanded the playoffs to 12 sides in 1990.
HOW WILL FOLES FARE?
He was not very good in Philadelphia's final two games. The Eagles (13-3) failed to score in a 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys to close the season as Foles was just four of 11 for 39 yards with an interception in the defeat. That was after he went 19 of 38 for 163 yards with a touchdown and interception in an ugly 19-10 win over the Oakland Raiders in week 16.
Foles, who has thrown for 537 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions this season, will have to be at his best against an opportunistic Falcons defense that forced a pair of turnovers in last weekend’s 26-13 wildcard win over the Los Angeles Rams.
CAN AJAYI REPLICATE HIS EARLIER SUCCESS?
A mid-season acquisition by the Eagles, the former Miami Dolphins running back lit up the Falcons on October 15. He ran for 130 yards on 26 carries in a 20-17 Dolphins victory in Atlanta.
The Eagles can help take some of the pressure off Foles with a heavy dose of Jay Ajayi. While the third-year back was with the Dolphins, Miami went 7-0 whenever he had 24 or more carries. He ran for more than 200 yards in three of those games.
WILL THE EAGLES BE ABLE TO STOP ATLANTA'S OFFENSE?
The Eagles had the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and the league’s top rush defense. The Falcons have not run the ball with nearly the efficiency they did last year on their way to the Super Bowl, but Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman remain a formidable tandem.
The bigger concern, though, is the outside with receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. When teams game plan to stop Jones, Sanu has a knack for having huge games. In the five games in which Sanu scored this season, Jones was kept out of end zone.
While the Eagles defensive backs will have to contain Sanu and Jones, they cannot let someone else — like receivers Taylor Gabriel or Justin Hardy or tight end Austin Hooper (those three have combined for seven touchdowns this season) — beat them.
|Black Caps survive Pakistan comeback to claim series sweep|
|Celtics lose without Irving as Cavaliers end skid|
|I can play against anyone, says 15-year-old Kostyuk|
|I would love to coach PSG – Mancini|
|Now an All-Star, Joel Embiid ´might have to pass´ on Rihanna|
|Merson: Mkhitaryan will be a sensation at Arsenal|
|Aussie debutant Carey replaces Paine for second ODI|
|Wins over substance for Varane and Real Madrid|
|Arsenal´s Giroud the answer for Chelsea, says Parlour|
|Rahm shoots 62 to lead CareerBuilder Challenge|
|Wenger: Sanchez exit won´t hurt like Van Persie|
|LeBron, Curry named captains for NBA All-Star game|
|Zidane hopes late Leganes win is turning point for Real Madrid|
|Magic´s Afflalo handed two-game ban for fighting|
|De Gea happy to delay Man Utd contract talks|
|Celtics guard Irving misses 76ers game with shoulder injury|
|LeBron James determined to work through ´very challenging´ Cavaliers season|
|Leganes 0 Real Madrid 1: Asensio´s late goal lifts pressure on Zidane in Copa quarter-final|
|Toulalan follows Gourvennec out of Bordeaux|
|Texans DE J.J. Watt showing positive signs with rehab|
|CC Sabathia likes the Yankees being a ´hated team´ again|
|UCI president wants Team Sky to suspend Froome|
|Dortmund´s Durm suffers torn ankle ligaments|
|Chelsea send Nathan to Belenenses on loan|
|Chelsea in talks over deal for Roma full-back Emerson|
|Gravel for breakfast but no worms on Dyche´s menu|
|Harden to return for the Rockets against the Timberwolves|
|Dybala is no Messi - Laudrup thinks comparisons are unfair|
|Jones insists weakened England can challenge for Six Nations hat-trick|
|McIlroy feeling ´a little different´ but happy with injury return|
|Dortmund leave Aubameyang out amid Arsenal links|
|Federer requested night match to avoid Melbourne scorcher|
|Koulibaly would stay at Napoli ´forever´|
|Mentor De Villiers hopes Proteas proteges ´remember that old guy´|
|Shenzhen to host WTA Finals|
|Neymar´s PSG contract has no release clause, lawyer claims|
|Robben relaxed over Bayern contract talks as other clubs circle|
|Henderson returns to Liverpool training|
|Football´s biggest release clauses - Pique joins Messi, Ronaldo and LaLiga´s big boys|
|Australia call for Carey, Hazlewood out of Gabba ODI|
|Defending champion Fleetwood upstages McIlroy, Johnson|
|No offers for Evans yet, says West Brom boss Pardew|
|Halep not feeling the pressure|
|Stafylidis seals Stoke switch|
|I was dying on court - Monfils questions decision to play in Melbourne heat|
|Birthday girl Kerber sets up Sharapova clash, misery for Muguruza|
|Federer marches on, Djokovic beats the heat but Wawrinka bows out|
|Worry about your own team - Dortmund slam Wenger´s Aubameyang pursuit|
|Fabulous Federer eases past Struff|
|Praet denies agreeing deal to join Juventus|
|No BBC for Real Madrid´s Leganes clash|
|Wawrinka discovers Tennys has game to go with the name|
|Heat hit historic low in defeat to Sixers|
|Stoke close to Stafylidis signing|
|Brisbane Roar 3 Perth Glory 2: Holman settles five-goal thriller|
|Gourvennec leaves Bordeaux after seventh defeat in eight games|
|Eight uncapped players make squad for England´s Six Nations opener|
|Stokes court date on same day as supposed England comeback|
|Pique agrees new long-term Barcelona contract|
|Wenger rules out Ozil sale as talks continue over Wilshere deal|
|Halep eases past struggling Bouchard|
|Sanchez-Mkhitaryan deal close, says Wenger|
|Retiring veteran Benneteau dumps Goffin out|
|Meunier blasts ´disgraceful´ PSG fans after Neymar boos|
|Pique demands better at Camp Nou after Espanyol ´insults´|
|Djokovic outlasts Monfils in Melbourne heat|
|Wizards get in scuffle in blowout loss to Hornets|
|Schweinsteiger re-signs with Chicago Fire for 2018|
|Rockets´ Ariza, Green suspended|
|Sharapova happy with improvement|