EVERYTHING was rosy. Carson Wentz looked like an MVP, the Eagles had the best record in the league and then a 2-yard scramble changed everything. When it was official that Nick Foles would take over as quarterback for the season there was warranted questioning and uncertainty surrounding his ability to steer this team to the promised land. On the eve of Philly’s first playoff game, the time for speculation is over.
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IRONICALLY Foles started Philadelphia’s last playoff game back in 2013, which was a 26-24 loss at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. A lot has changed in the four years that have past, but the story of Nick Foles has not. Since that time Foles has started 23 games (going 13-10) and thrown for just over 5,000 yards which included 28 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The best word to describe him is fine.
AND ‘fine’ or ‘OK’ can also describe his appearances to close out the Eagles’ season, albeit against pretty lowly competition. On Saturday they face a ferocious test against the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, who last week helped bring the LA Rams back down to Earth. By far it’s the biggest test Foles has faced all season, with plenty of worries coming from the NFC’s top seed about their ability to protect home-field.
THE key to winning a game with a suspect quarterback relies on a teams ability to run the ball, kick field goals and defend. Luckily for Foles, the Eagles possess weapons in all three of those areas. Their offensive line is one of the best groups in the league, despite the absence of All-Pro left tackle, Jason Peters. Against a nimble Falcons defense, that O-line will be relied upon to help open gaps on the outside for Blount, Ajayi and Clement in an effort to consistently move the chains. Or at least get them inside field goal range for Jake Elliot to use his cannon of a leg for a +3.
PHILADELPHIA was one of the best defenses against the run this season as well, holding opponents to a league-best low of 79.2 yards on the ground a game. Against a versatile Falcons unit that boasts Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, they will need to be at their best to shut down the dynamic Falcon backs. The Eagles back four will need to be on their toes too against a QB in Matt Ryan who isn’t afraid to look deep. He has completed 56 plays of 20+ yards this year and my guess is he will look to add to that tally with the aide of Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and the rest of his weapons.
THIS game marks the first time a No.1 seed has opened as an underdog in the playoffs and they are an underdog for one simple reason. Nick Foles. There is a blueprint for success using Foles as their quarterback and he has the offensive pieces around him to succeed. The playoffs are an entirely different beast though and we are unsure if Foles can guide the team tied for the league’s best record to a SuperBowl. They aren’t soaring as they once were with Carson Wentz, but Foles can help them flap their way to victory if things go according to plan.
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