1. The conditioning of the Falcons’ defense against the Eagles’ offense
If you keep up with the NFL, you know the Eagles run an up-tempo offense. Chip Kelly has run it since day one in his NFL stint, just like he did it in his college days with Oregon. Kelly brought in the former number one draft pick in Sam Bradford, and Bradford used to run the no-huddle offense back in college. What does this mean for Atlanta’s defense? This means that there will be tired legs out there, and the coaches will be forced to switch players in-and-out. How can the Falcons prevent the Eagles offense in being successful in the no-huddle? Force third-and-longs. If the Falcons can be successful on 1st and 2nd down, 3rd down should be where the defense should find a way to get off the field.
2. The Money Matchup
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones recently had his contract extended for 5 years/$71 million with $47 million guaranteed. He will take on another player who got paid, Bryon Maxwell. Maxwell signed with the Eagles for 6 years/$63 million with $25 million guaranteed. The two will face off on Monday Night, and we will see which player will win their matchup. Expect Jones to face double-teams part of the night, as he can beat the best cornerbacks in this league. Maxwell was overshadowed by Richard Sherman in Seattle, but has faced other teams’ No. 1 receivers, so this matchup will be interesting to watch.
3. The Rushing Attack against the Eagles’ Defense
It’s safe to say that Atlanta’s rushing attack still has questions that are yet to be answered. Instead of signing a free agent running back, the team instead opted to find a running back in the draft. Tevin Coleman was the team’s third-round selection, and the rookie will be starting in primetime action. Devonta Freeman was the expected starter until his hamstring injury hampered him throughout the preseason, where he saw a total of zero snaps. Coleman will have his time to shine on Monday Night, and has an opportunity to make a name for himself. With the new zone blocking scheme implemented, it should help the Falcons’ running backs find more open holes. The Falcons want opposing teams to respect their running game this season, and that will mean the running backs have to make big plays more often then not.