Playoff Survivor Pool a Bird Bath for the Dirty Birds

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06: Atlanta Falcons (2) Matt Ryan (QB) gives a thumbs up to the fans to celebrate the victory during the NFC Wild Card football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams on January 06, 2018 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s been a crazy Wildcard Weekend! We’ve seen some amazing plays and learned that no lead is sacred (enter the Tennessee Titans coming back from a 21-3 third-quarter deficit). Can you believe Marcus Mariota’s pitch and catch to himself or the long bomb hauled in by Cooper Kupp or the phenomenal grabs by Woods in the Falcons-Rams game?

The Falcons won handily on the scoreboard but were pushed harder by the Rams than the score would indicate. There were some tough breaks for Los Angeles and some self-shooting in the foot that created the disparity shown on the scoreboard. So, what does this mean for the battle of the birds?

In short, I believe it spells trouble for the Eagles. And Sportsbetting ag agrees with me. They have the Eagles listed as 2-and-a-half-point underdogs at home. I know that seems like a one-eighty from what I was stating above. Yes, the Falcons-Rams game was closer than an initial glance at the score would look, but here’s the thing: the LA Rams are good. They are firing on all cylinders, with plenty of offensive weapons and a decent defense. The Falcons still beat them by double-digits.

The Eagles—as we all know—are not firing on all cylinders. In fact, they are sputtering like an old truck with a clogged fuel filter. This will be the first time these two teams have met in the playoffs since 2004, when the Eagles won the NFC and went on to play in Super Bowl 39.

The Offensive Stats

  • Points Per Game
    Falcons 22.29, Eagles 28.56
  • Yards Per Play
    Falcons 5.8, Eagles 5.5
  • Points Per Play
    Falcons 0.359, Eagle 0.426
  • 3rd Down Conversions
    Falcons 43.87%, Eagles 41.74%
  • Red-Zone Scoring
    Falcons 50%, Eagles 65.5%

Statistically speaking, the Eagles look better, scoring around six points more per game, but these stats are boosted season-long by a quarterback with a rating of 101.9. The most likely candidate to start (Nick Foles) is riding a less than awesome 79.5 rating this season and not moving the ball well.

The Defensive Stats

  • Points Against
    Falcons 19.29, Eagles 18.44
  • Opponent Yards Per Play
    Falcons 5.2, Eagles 5.0
  • Opponent Points Per Play
    Falcons 0.310, Eagles 0.302
  • Opponent 3rd Down Conversion
    Falcons 38.10%, Eagles 32.20%
  • Opponent Red-Zone Scoring
    Falcons 44.23%, 55.26%

The defenses are also very similarly matched. There is only about a point differential going to the Eagles, but the Falcons were quite a bit better at playing defense in the red zone. And I have to give the edge to the Falcons defense in this situation because the Eagles offense won’t be quite as dynamic. Furthermore, the Eagles are 0-1 as home underdogs this season.

Going back to the betting odds, Las Vegas tends to award the home team a field goal on the point spread for home-field advantage. This means that the lines-makers in Vegas believe that the Falcons are 5.5 to 6 points better than the Eagles right now. I feel like they are being generous to Philadelphia and respecting their season-long performance. Watching the Atlanta Falcons this weekend, I believe they are at least a touchdown better than the Wentz-less Green Birds.

The Atlanta Falcons are 5-1 when listed as an away favorite, winning 83.3 percent of the time in this situation. And given the circumstances, the Dirty Birds are my NFL Playoff Survivor Pool pick for the Divisional Round. Sure, you could play it ‘safe’ and take the Patriots over the Titans, but playing it safe is for soccer moms in mini-vans.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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