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Falcons Return To Philly To Kick Off The 2018 NFL Season

by Daniel Gerbick on Thursday, September 6th, 2018

atlanta at philadelphiaThe Atlanta Falcons hit the road to start their 2018 campaign at the place where their 2017 season ended. The Falcons play the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field to officially kick off the 2018 NFL season.

When the Falcons last visited the Eagles it all came down to a desperation pass from quarterback Matt Ryan to wide receiver Julio Jones on fourth and two, which fell incomplete inside the end zone with less than a minute left to play. The Falcons never got the ball back and the Eagles won 15-10. They of course advanced to the NFC title game and went on to beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

After struggling to score against Philadelphia, the Falcons were determined to get Ryan more firepower and picked Calvin Ridley out of Alabama in the first round of the draft.

Ridley’s a great route runner and Ryan will need him right away against the Eagles defense.

In last year’s game, the Falcons struggled on third down as Philadelphia employed a cover and rush approach to limit Ryan’s options. The Eagles pressure and tight coverage on third down frustrated Ryan and kept him scrambling all night long to avoid sacks.

Just as in that game the Eagles will go without Carson Wentz as Nick Foles will be starting again as Wentz recovers from last year’s season-ending ACL injury.

The Eagles will also be without wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins, who are dealing with a shoulder and groin injury respectively.

With Wentz out the Eagles must find out if Foles can pick up where he left off last season. Foles must prove that he can continue to shine in 2018 after a brilliant postseason campaign where he had 971 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception in three games.

On defense the Eagles will need a good performance from Fletcher Cox, who can be a disruptive force on the defensive interior, to control the line of scrimmage and help contain Ryan, Jones and the rest of the Falcons’ explosive offense.

Even though last year the Falcons weren’t as explosive this season they look to rebound. Ryan passed for 20 touchdowns last year, his lowest total since his rookie season of 2008, as the Falcons struggled inside the red zone last year. Atlanta scored a touchdown from inside the 20 only on 49.2 percent of the time to finish the season ranked 23rd in the NFL.

The Falcons will need running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevon Coleman to have a good game if they want to improve their success inside the red zone and win. Ridley playing along Jones should help improve on those numbers as well as open up the game for the Falcons.

Expect another very close contest in this one as the outcome could come down to the final minute or even the final play of the game.

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