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Falcons In season news

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Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan: 'We're not here just to get here'

 


UPI | 2018-01-07T16:33:21-05:00


 

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The Atlanta Falcons have heard the familiar refrain from the moment they let a 25-point lead evaporate in Super Bowl LI.

The best way to quiet the noise, however, is to turn up the intensity in the playoffs, as they did in Saturday's 26-13 win over the Rams in their NFC wild-card game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Julio Jones to effectively seal the win. Jones ended up with nine catches for 94 yards while fellow wideout Mohamed Sanu worked the middle for four receptions for 75 yards.

"We're not here just to get here," the 32-year-old Ryan said. "We want to make noise while we're here, so this is what it's all about, it's about giving yourself the opportunity this time of the year to compete and play in games like this and win games like this."

Ryan came up big in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Last season's NFL Most Valuable Player found Sanu on a short flip, with the latter doing the rest by racing down field for a 52-yard reception. Two plays later, Ryan faked a handoff to running back Devonta Freeman and lofted a ball that Jones reeled in for an 8-yard scoring catch to give the Falcons a 26-13 lead with 5:48 left.

"The conditions were slick for sure. I slipped a couple of times, but on the touchdown to Julio, we were kind of running a keeper coming out the backside of that," Ryan said. "(Outside linebacker) Connor Barwin was up the field so I had to stop, didn't stop probably as gracefully as I liked. Kept my feet, which was good, tried to give Julio an opportunity towards the front pylon. He made a great adjustment, usually we try to drive those throws in there, but to adjust and go over the top is nice. It was a huge play for us."

For Ryan, Quinn and the sixth-seeded Falcons to redeem themselves from last season's crushing loss in the Super Bowl, they'll need a similar strong effort versus the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.

"Yeah, it's always good to go back and play there for sure," said Ryan, who hails from Exton, Pa. "Obviously, family and friends, it's great to see them, but it doesn't matter where we go this time of the year. We're just excited to be going and to still have the opportunity to keep playing."

 

 


Copyright © 2018 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. TERMS OF USE | PRIVACY POLICY

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Philadelphia Eagles are first No. 1 seed ever to open as underdog vs. Atlanta Falcons

 


UPI | 2018-01-07T18:34:00-05:00


 

The Philadelphia Eagles are the first No. 1 seed in the NFL playoffs to begin as an underdog.

The Atlanta Falcons opened as 2.5-point favorites over the Eagles in Saturday's divisional round game in Philadelphia.

Since 1975, when the NFL began basing home-field advantage on teams' regular-season winning percentage, no No. 1 seed has ever been an underdog in its first playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The line can change by Saturday.

The reason for the Eagles being the underdog likely relates to quarterback Carson Wentz suffering a season-ending knee injury in early December. Backup Nick Foles has not produced at the same rate as Wentz under center.

According to ESPN, Westgate Superbook oddsmaker Ed Salmons estimates the Eagles, with a healthy Wentz, could have been as much as 6.5-point favorites over the Falcons. Without him, Salmons and other Las Vegas oddsmakers say Philadelphia would be an underdog to any other team in the NFC playoffs this week.

The Falcons beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 Saturday to advance. They will play at Philadelphia as the first No. 6 seed to be favored in the divisional round.

Bettors were siding with the Falcons over the Eagles early. The line had already grown to Atlanta minus-3 on Sunday morning at some sportsbooks.

 

Copyright © 2018 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. TERMS OF USE | PRIVACY POLICY

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High-flying Philadelphia Eagles next on Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl redemption tour

 


UPI | 2018-01-08T18:46:58-05:00


 

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Playing with unmatched poise, the Atlanta Falcons were able to upset the Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.

The Falcons, the defending NFC champions, blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots last year.

They are determined to get back to the big game and atone for that.

Next team in the way is the high-flying and well-rested Philadelphia Eagles, who will have to play with backup quarterback Nick Foles.

"We are a battle-tested brotherhood, and that kind of experience I thought certainly showed up (against the Rams)," head coach Dan Quinn said. "We talked to the team about passing the baton between offense, defense, special teams, and I thought you saw a good bit of that."

The Falcons are fine with going on the road.

"We're starting to play our best ball and be the best version of ourselves, and we recognize we're all an extension of each other," Quinn said. "The best part of our team is the team. We've got another prove-it opportunity this week."

The Eagles were 10-2 start when star second-year quarterback Carson Wentz sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Foles, who has bounced around the league with three teams and is serving his second stint with the Eagles, will quarterback the Eagles when they face the Falcons in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles finished 13-3 and won the NFC East division.

Wentz had broken the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season when he went down in a game against the Rams on Dec. 10. The Eagles went on to win 43-25 and improve to 11-2.

With Foles at the controls, the Eagles won on the road against the New York Giants 34-29, beat Oakland 19-10 and lost to Dallas 6-0.

Foles has completed 57 of 101 passes (56.4 percent) for 537 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Most often the scheme stays the same based on who's playing quarterback," Quinn said. "Now, they may feature certain plays more than another based on who that backup quarterback is. That's what we'll go to see, what's the same and what's different in terms of what they do."

Wentz had the Eagles passing attack playing at a high level. The top three receivers combined for 25 touchdown passes this season.

"Likely there's not a wholesale change unless there was a quarterback that had unbelievable movement or ways to run it more based on who he was," Quinn said.

The Eagles' rushing attack is led by LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry after being trading to the Eagles by Miami.

Ajayi is the only back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons this season. He rushed 26 times for 130 yards to help the Dolphins defeat the Falcons 20-17 on Oct. 15.

At the trading deadline, Ajayi was sent to the Eagles for a fourth-round pick.

The Eagles' defense is anchored by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, a three-time Pro-Bowl selection.

The Eagles finished with 38 sacks this season. Defensive end Brandon Graham led the team with 9.5 sacks. Cox had 5.5 sacks and Chris Long and rookie defensive end Derek Barnett added five each.

The Eagles ranked fourth in total yards allowed (306.5 per game), first in rushing yards allowed (79.2), 17th in passing yards allowed (227.3) and fourth in points allowed (18.4).

"They've played terrifically this year," Quinn said. "I think if I'm not mistaken, they finished plus-11 in the turnover margin (they did) and finished as the No. 1-ranked rush defense, good job in scoring, so we'll have our work cut out for us for sure."

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The Falcons know the Eagles will be stout.

"Each week as you get into the playoffs, it's almost like back to the division games," head coach Dan Quinn said. "In our opinion a lot of times you have to throw some of the stats out and say, 'What's the best thing to do to win this game?' This matchup, how to feature our guys with the matchups that we have the very best, and that's what we'll do putting the game plan together."

The Eagles beat the Falcons last season 24-15 on Nov. 13 at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia ran the ball for 208 yards and had 152 yards in returns against the Falcons' special teams.

"We'll definitely go back and look at last year's as well, knowing from a play-caller standpoint on both sides and on special teams as well, look at all the games this year, and we'll certainly look at our game from last year as well," Quinn said.

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Eagles aware of historic underdog status against Falcons

 

AP

FOX Sports  


 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Carson Wentz’s value to the Philadelphia Eagles is reflected clearly in a historic betting line.

The Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in their opening playoff game. The sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons (11-6) are 2 +-point favorites in Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff.

”It doesn’t really matter,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said Monday. ”We’re better than that, but we have to show it.”

After Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14, the Eagles went 2-1 with backup quarterback Nick Foles. But the offense was inconsistent. Foles played well in his first five quarters after replacing Wentz and struggled in the next five. He sat out the final three quarters in Week 17 along with most of the starters.

Oddsmakers weren’t impressed. Of course, players and coaches shrugged off the disrespect.

”I don’t care what people say because what people say has never won a game for me and my teammates,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said.

Defensive end Chris Long said it would be foolish for the team to use this as motivation.

”This is not the way we think,” he said.

The Falcons are coming off a 26-13 playoff win at the Los Angeles Rams after beating Carolina in a win-or-out regular-season finale. The defending NFC champions had their worst offensive performance during the 2016 season in a 24-15 loss at Philadelphia in Week 10.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz isn’t drawing too much from that victory. Atlanta has a new offensive coordinator – Steve Sarkisian replaced Kyle Shanahan – and it took a while for them to get things on track.

”They are a little bit different than last year,” Schwartz said. ”Every team’s going to be a little bit different from year-to-year. There’s going to be some things you do well, some things that you put in in the offseason, some things that maybe fit your personality a little bit more. There’s still a lot of challenges with that team. I mean, it goes well beyond a player like Julio Jones. It goes well beyond the quarterback (Matt Ryan). Their tight end (Austin Hooper) is having a great year. Their running backs (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman), if you combine the running back stats, you’re talking about a first-team All-Pro – 1,500 yards, I think 12 touchdowns. So we have to look at it that way. There’s going to be a lot of challenges this week.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Looks out Eagles, Falcons looked Super Bowl-ready last week

 

AP

FOX Sports  


 

What America saw last weekend from the Atlanta Falcons was similar to what the team showed for 2 quarters of last year’s Super Bowl.

Can they keep it up as they head on the road again Saturday to Philadelphia?


0:00|2:14

The Falcons have that balanced offense — if Matt Ryan is efficient — to challenge any opponents. Where they made their mark against the Rams was on defense.

“We don’t have a (complicated) defense, but we are very detailed,” says defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, a former NFL player who got the job last February. “And the detail of expectations of understanding that they have to make our defense come to life, and they’re doing an awesome job at it.”

Philadelphia’s defense has been up and down recently, and it has dealt with a bunch of injuries. Depth has been a plus for Jim Schwartz’s unit.

The edge here belongs to Atlanta at quarterback — if Ryan is efficient — with backup Nick Foles running the offense for the Eagles. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Foles fly. Or struggle.

The Falcons are 2-point favorites over the top-seeded Eagles, a highly unusual occurrence. But one that, with Carson Wentz on the sideline, makes enough sense.

FALCONS, 23-19

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