The Falcons schedule doesn’t get any easier after a dismal loss to the Vikings on the road. They come back home to play the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles have presented plenty of problems for the Falcons offense in their past two matchups, but both of those games were played in Philadelphia. This one will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Matt Ryan has been much more effective. After looking so lifeless in Week 1, Dan Quinn must have his men jacked up and ready to go for the home-opener. If not, it won’t be long before he is back on the streets looking for a new job.
The Eagles defensive line vs. The Falcons offensive line
The offensive line is going to be a popular pick when talking about the keys to the game all year for the Falcons, but especially when playing the Eagles who are loaded on the other side. Fletcher Cox causes problems for everyone, but he’s been an absolute nuisance in his last two matchups against the Falcons. Luckily, Malik Jackson looks unlikely to play next week. It shouldn’t matter that much; the Eagles still have plenty of firepower that will create issues for the Atlanta offense. Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Tim Jernigan, Josh Sweat, and Vinny Curry will all have a chance to take advantage of an offensive line that looked hopeless against Minnesota and is already down one of their best starters.
Chris Lindstrom fractured his foot and was placed on IR. Jamon Brown will start in his place at right guard. That’s a massive loss for the Falcons, but the worst player on the offensive line last week was actually Pro-Bowler Jake Matthews. Matthews has to be better, or Atlanta is not going to have much of a chance. Look for Kaleb McGary to receive most of the reps at right tackle, as he continues to improve his conditioning. He looked pretty good in about 45 snaps.
Julio Jones vs. The Philadelphia secondary
Jones didn’t have much of an impact in last week’s game until it was way out of reach. This could be a quality bounce-back opportunity for him if the offensive line can give Matt Ryan time to throw. In their playoff matchup two years ago, Jones caught nine balls for 101 yards. He upped that to 10 catches for 169 yards in the season-opener last season, and that could have been a lot more had the refs made the correct call on a diving catch that was clearly secured in bounds. There is nobody in Philadelphia’s secondary that can match up with Jones. Give Ryan time, and the Falcons star wide receiver will have a field day.
Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley vs. The Eagles running attack
Aside from one season, Vic Beasley has been nothing but a disappointment for the Falcons, which is why many people were shocked when they offered him his fifth-year option worth nearly $13 million. He’s been abysmal at applying pressure but is even worse against the run, and that was glaringly obvious against the Vikings. Takk McKinley, who many thought would be in for a breakout third season, wasn’t much better. Both were terrible at setting the edge, and the Vikings feasted on the outside play-after-play.
The Eagles don’t have a Dalvin Cook, but Doug Pederson stresses balance, and they attack defenses with a trio of backs. Darren Sproles, Miles Sanders, and Jordan Howard each had over five carries in Week 1 and totaled 116 yards. Great teams go on the road and try to establish their running game early. That is what the Eagles will attempt to do so they can take the crowd out of the game. It is imperative Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley do their job against the run.