Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick (Playoff Edition)

This is a game the Eagles are supposed to win.

This is the game that the best NFL teams get as a reward for a great season.

The Eagles have had two weeks to rest up, having earned a bye while the Falcons had to slug it out in a Wild Card game last week. So why so much angst about the Birds.

Why have they turned into the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL, the first time in league history that the No. 1 seed has been an underdog at home in the divisional round of the playoffs?

That's easy. This is not Carson Wentz's team anymore.

It belongs to Nick Foles.

And his last two games have not exactly instilled confidence in Eagles Nation, managing just 10 points against the Raiders and then getting shut out by the Raiders in a meaningless finale in which Foles only played a quarter.

So which Nick Foles shows up today?

The answer to that question likely will decide this game.

Eagles fans believe they have the answer. The Birds should load up on Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount and try to run the ball down the Falcon's throats.

But the feeling here is that the Falcons' No. 1 goal today will be to take away the Eagles running attack and stake their chances on Nick Foles beating them.

Foles will need to make big plays, in particular on third down, which was the magic of Carson Wentz.

Maybe this will be the game when Fletcher Cox puts this team on his back and delivers a win by being a constant menace, and harassing Exton native Matt Ryan into a couple of turnovers.

They also will need to be aware of Julio Jones, the Falcons' outstanding wide receiver. No, Jones did not have a stellar season. This is not the time for him to have a breakout game.

The X-Factor will be the atmosphere in the Linc. With temperatures plunging as much as 30 degrees during the day, it will be cold out there for the dome team Falcons.

But a couple of quick 3-and-outs or an early turnover could turn the home crowd against Foles.

I still think this game comes down to Nick Foles.

If the Eagles win, it will be because of him.

And the flip side? Well, you know how that goes.

THE PICK: Make it Falcons 23, Eagles 13. Yes, it kills me to do this. Maybe Foles will flip a switch and look more like that "27-2" legend from a few years back. Or maybe the Birds' defense will harass home boy Matt Ryan into a couple of key mistakes, maybe even a Pick 6, But I'm not banking on it. It's just a shame. This was our year. Everything was lined up. Then Wentz's knee exploded. Nothing has been the same since.

LAST WEEK: That ugly shutout at the hands of the Cowboys did not keep the Eagles from amassing a 13-3 record, best in the NFL and the top seed going into the playoffs. But it left most seeing them as a deeply wounded team. For me, I thought the prospect of 14 wins - something no Eagles team has done in franchise history - would be enough to inspire a win. Hard to win when you don't score. And that's part of the unease going into this playoff week. The loss left me with a 12-4 mark on the season. Not a bad year. I just hope I get one more week in an NFC Championship game at the Linc next week. I'm not optimistic.

GAME BY GAME: Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 27, Giants 24. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 17)

Eagles 26, Chargers 24. (My Pick: Chargers 27, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Cardinals 7. (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 24)

Eagles 28, Panthers 23. (My Pick: Panthers 26, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Redskins 24. (My Pick: Eagles 31, Redskins 19)

Eagles 33, 49ers 10. (My Pick: Eagles 24, 49ers 10)

Eagles 51, Broncos 23 (My Pick: Eagles 23, Broncos 19)

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cowboys 17)

Eagles 31, Bears 3 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13)

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Seahawks 23, Eagles 17)

Eagles 43, Rams 35 (My Pick: Rams 33, Eagles 29)

Eagles 24, Giants 29 (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 19)

Eagles 19, Raiders 10 (My Pick: Eagles 27, Raiders 17)

Cowboys 6, Eagles 0 (My Pick: Eagles 23, Cowboys 16)

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