The first Monday night matchup of the year belongs to the Philadelphia
Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons in the certain to be raucous Georgia Dome. Both of
these teams are coming off disappointing seasons, which ended abruptly without a
trip to the playoffs. Both teams made significant offseason moves but the Eagles
went 10-6 barely missing the post season while the Falcons went 6-10. The Falcons
hired head coach Dan Quinn who is known as a defensive coach to help a struggling
Falcons defense, which allowed over 25 points per game last year. The Falcons also
allowed more yards per game than any other team with an average of over 398. The
Eagles have upgraded at both the quarterback and running back positions with the
additions of Sam Bradford and Demarco Murray.
The Eagles lost several key players including fan favorite and all-pro running
back Lesean Mccoy but actually upgraded the position with the acquisition of
Murray. Murray is the reigning offensive player of the year as he tallied over 1,800
rushing yards and scored 13 touchdowns for the Cowboys. While Bradford is an
upgrade over Nick Foles, he has been injury prone in the past and is actually
returning from his second ACL tear. Head Coach Chip Kelly’s offense is impressive
as the Eagles offense was ranked in the top 5 last year in both yards gained and
points scored and they should remain there even with the loss of all-pro receiver
Jeremy Maclin. Kelly has built a proven offensive system in Philadelphia and if
Bradford can stay healthy, he could have a great year as less talented quarterbacks
have flourished in Kelly’s system like Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles. The Eagles did
however lose 2 starting guards in Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans so the offensive
line is untested.
The Falcons offense is also very good as quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown
for over 4,000 yards each of the past 4 seasons. His biggest weapon is all-pro wide
receiver Julio Jones who caught more than 100 passes for over 1,500 yards last year.
With that said, they have hired a new offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan and
lost 2 starting guards in Jon Asamoah and Joe Hawley. The Falcons will also be
starting a rookie running back in Tevin Coleman. With a new offensive coordinator
and new defensive minded coach Atlanta has unanswered questions on both sides of
the football. They did draft Defensive End Vic Beasley in the first round and
acquired Adrian Clayborn from the Buccaneers to help ease some of the pressure off
of Matt Ryan.
Even with the advantage of playing this game on their home turf, the Falcons
have a new head coach and several question marks on both offense and defense. The
Eagles are now in the 3rd year of Kelly’s regime and have upgraded at 2 significant
positions. The Eagles are looking to get back to the playoffs while the Falcons are
looking to get back on track.
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