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.
|Torres, Costa, Eto´o and Morata - Can Higuain finally fill Chelsea´s Drogba void?|
|In-form Nadal reveals pre-Melbourne doubts|
|Cardiff dressing room is sombre - Choo|
|Nadal plays tennis from a different dimension, says stunned Tsitsipas|
|Van Bronckhorst to step down as Feyenoord boss|
|Osaka unfazed by Nissin ad controversy as Australian Open final looms|
|Mikel joins Middlesbrough on short-term deal|
|New serve, new Nadal – Aus Open may be start of unexpected hard-court assault|
|Starc takes landmark wicket as Aussies dominate day one|
|Skriniar close to new Inter contract|
|Imperious Nadal blasts past Tsitsipas into Melbourne final|
|Former Cardiff boss Solskjaer praying for good news on missing Sala|
|Sanchez to face Arsenal as Solskjaer backs Gunners fans to spur him on|
|I did nothing wrong! - Pliskova stunned by ´unbelievable´ Osaka|
|Solskjaer optimistic about De Gea, Martial contracts|
|Young ready to lead Pacers in Oladipo´s absence|
|Kvitova breaking down mental barriers in Melbourne run|
|Neymar has ´painful recurrence´ of foot injury, PSG confirm|
|Sala search begins for third day|
|Pochettino fears VAR will ´annoy´ Premier League fans|
|Osaka through to Melbourne decider after Pliskova thriller|
|Tsitsipas Souvlaki official as Australian Open star is honoured in Melbourne|
|Pacers earn big win over Raptors, Oladipo injured|
|Harden pleased to entertain Knicks fans in 61-point display|
|Kvitova overcomes extreme heat for spot in Aus Open final|
|Man United have their club back – Scholes revels in Solskjaer revival|
|Harden matches another Chamberlain feat with 61-point game|
|Capitals give up fourth hat-trick in five games|
|Durant leaving Warriors would be ´great´ for NBA, says McGrady|
|McEnroe: Serena choked in Australian Open loss|
|De Jong an ´important addition´ at Barca, says Valverde|
|´Better outcome than we originally feared´ – Agent on Anthony Davis injury|
|Pacers sweating on Oladipo injury after Indiana star leaves on stretcher|
|De Jong: I spoke to PSG and City before signing for Barca|
|Guardiola wants finals habit at Man City|
|Lakers star LeBron won´t face Timberwolves|
|Valverde doesn´t regret resting Messi despite Barcelona loss|
|In my heart and in my prayers - Ben Yedder pays tribute to missing Sala|
|Real Madrid reclaim world´s highest-earning club title from Manchester United|
|Messi absence no excuse for Barcelona loss, says Suarez|
|Humble Higuain excited by Sarri reunion|
|He must not come and cry after – Goncalves unapologetic over Neymar injury|
|Serie A record-breaker under Sarri - the Opta numbers behind new Chelsea striker Higuain|
|PSG boss Tuchel ´worried´ after Neymar sent to hospital with another foot injury|
|Coles commits to New Zealand and Hurricanes until 2021|
|Guardiola praises City mentality on ´dangerous´ Burton pitch|
|England won ´attritional´ battle, says Anderson after latest landmark|
|AEK, Brose Bamberg secure last-16 spots|
|Sevilla 2 Barcelona 0: Resting Messi backfires for Copa del Rey holders|
|Sarri: Chelsea players agree with me on motivation comments|
|Morata asked to leave Chelsea a month ago, says Sarri|
|Paris Saint-Germain 2 Strasbourg 0: Neymar suffers injury scare in Coupe victory|
|Anderson´s four-wicket haul rocks Windies|
|Burton Albion 0 Manchester City 1 (0-10 agg): Holders coast through to clinch Wembley return|
|PSG´s Neymar hobbles off in Coupe de France clash|
|De Ligt bored of Ajax departure rumours|
|Piatek completes AC Milan move after Higuain exit|
|Super Bowl LIII: Rams RBs v Patriots RBs|
|Chelsea seal Higuain loan|
|Ismaily kicked out of CAF Champions League after fans throw stones, bottles|
|England star Itoje pens new Saracens deal|
|Palace keeper Hennessey charged over Instagram post|
|Chelsea warn supporters over anti-Semitic chanting ahead of Tottenham EFL Cup tie|
|Joshua primed to make call on next opponent|
|Super Bowl LIII: Brady v Goff|
|Sala search suspended as Cardiff chairman confirms club wanted different travel arrangements|
|Cruyff, Koeman, Kluivert - De Jong following pantheon of Dutch Barca greats|
|Sarfraz apologises for comments picked up by stump mic|
|Djokovic: Pouille deserves top-10 spot|
|Hazard must be more demanding if he wants to leave Chelsea, says Ballack|