The Nick Sirianni era in Philadelphia begins today in Atlanta. Both the Falcons and the Eagles open up the season with new Head Coaches, and fresh faces on the offensive side of the ball. While many of the franchise stalwarts have departed, the keys to the game are still as simple as any other game in the NFL. Here are the four biggest keys to victory for the Eagles against the Falcons.
Battle of the trenches
Almost every game in the NFL is decided in the trenches. Either the defensive front seven shuts the run down, and gets after the QB consistently, or the Offensive Line dominates and tires out their opponent.
You’ve heard it everywhere as a build up, but that holds solely true for the Eagles on Sunday.
The Eagles have the better Offensive Line and Defensive Line. While an argument can be made that the Falcons Linebacker’s are slightly better, there’s no denying Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrave are better than anyone the Falcons can throw out on their DL or even OL for that matter.
For the record I think that’s the case with the second tier linemen for Philadelphia too (Derek Barnett, Ryan Kerrigan).
On the other side of the ball, Philadelphia SHOULD be able to dominate within their offensive line. The Falcons don’t have a premier pass rusher, and their run defense isn’t exactly perfect either.
It should be a dominating day if Philadelphia wants to win the first game of the Sirianni era.
With Rodney McLeod out, Kyle Pitts gets his own paragraph.
Yes, Calvin Ridley is an excellent receiver, but the expectation is the combination of Steve Nelson, and Darius Slay should be able to do enough to cancel him out.
The issue is Pitts.
The Eagles don’t have a player in the secondary that can theoretically match up well with the size and athleticism that Pitts’ brings. Alex Singleton, Eric Wilson, and every other Eagles LB is going to have their hands full.
If the Eagles cannot get pressure on Matt Ryan, Kyle Pitts is going to have a season opener similar to what Anquan Boldin did in 2003.
Matt Ryan has been an excellent QB throughout his career. It’s clear he’s at the trail-end of his play though.
Therefore, it’s important for the Eagles to get consistent pressure on him, even with them being on the road.
The Falcons under Ryan are 3-1 at home in Atlanta when playing Philadelphia. It’s 1-5 when playing in Philadelphia. It’s a massive discrepancy that cannot be overlooked with this game being played in Georgia.
If the Eagles are to have any chance in this game, they need to make Ryan uncomfortable and take the crowd out of the game as soon as possible.
Balance, Balance, Balance
The Falcons defense is a mess. Dean Pees is a very good defensive coach, but the Falcons just have a ton of questions in the secondary and in the front seven.
Philadelphia SHOULD NOT do what Doug Pederson, and Andy Reid would do in a game like this (Pass. Pass. Pass.).
Balance is key. Miles Sanders is an excellent RB and a player to watch for all season. If the Eagles are to be competitive this year, balancing the pass and the run with new QB, Jalen Hurts, will be essential.
And this isn’t due to a lack of confidence in Hurts either.
The Falcons secondary is the weakest link on the roster. The Eagles should have great success throwing the football.
But it is worth noting that the Cowboys, as good as they played and threw the ball on Thursday, lost. Having a successful balance of run and pass plays will be a major key for the Eagles tomorrow, and throughout the year.