What a great game that was! Very low scoring but there was plenty of drama at the end. The players definitely seemed gassed for their first game somewhat due to the humid weather conditions. Before the game I wrote that keys for the Eagles to winning the game would be doing well in the running game and keeping the pressure on Matt Ryan. They did exactly that running for averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 27 attempts for 113 yards with Jay Ajayi getting two touchdowns. One of the biggest run plays of the game came in the 4th quarter on 3rd and 2 from the Falcons 35 with just under 4 minutes to go. Corey Clement converted the third down for a 21 yard gain and the Eagles scored the winning touchdown two plays later. On the Falcons last drive they were able to drive the ball to the 10 yard line but the Eagles once again made a goal line stand to preserve the win. This time doing so in five plays as they were called for a penalty on fourth down and the Falcons had one more chance with 1 second remaining.
Matt Ryan struggled this game and does not look to be MVP caliber anymore. Their offense is not as efficient without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator. Julio Jones had a great game catching 10 passes for 169 yards although failing to score a touchdown. Julio Jones made most of his plays in between the 20s. Despite Julio Jones claims that the Falcons were aiming to be a better red-zone offense they only converted 1of their 5 attempts. Matt Ryan threw an interception targeting Jones on one of these red zone trips also. The Falcons offense is not playing as well under Steve Sarkisian. I said in my pre-season blog that I thought the Falcons would go under their win total. After seeing them in their first game I feel more confidently about that and happier about making that choice. The defense was wearing down by the end of the game and could not stop the Eagles running game and the offense was practically non-existent. Their only touchdown came off of a turnover and despite winning the turnover battle they were not able to win the game.
The Eagles got off to a slow start but played well enough down the stretch to win. The Falcons are not a good team in my opinion so I do not want to take too much from this game. The Eagles secondary struggled to cover Julio Jones but they were able to keep him out of the end zone and on the last play Ronald Darby was able to push Jones out far enough to preserve the win. Overall the main thing I took away from initially watching this game are how bad the Falcons offense still is in the red zone, and how bad Matt Ryan looked. He did not look accurate at all and there were many of his passes that could have been intercepted. Devonta Freeman’s injury will be something to monitor going forward as well. Julio Jones is a monster. The Falcons really need to do better to get him involved in the red zone if they want to be successful. The Eagles offensive line and running backs are a great tandem and Nelson Agholor looks like he will be a clutch playmaker for the Eagles this year. The teams combined for 26 penalties which seemed to be because of early season struggles. I don’t think either team will look as bad or as boring next week. The humidity also played a factor for players who are not yet in mid-season form.
At half-time I ended up also live betting the Eagles at +2.5 (+110) and moneyline (+130). This game played out almost exactly as I expected despite the Eagles slow start. The Falcons were dominating total yards at halftime but they got the majority of those yards in their first series. They were slowed down immensely after that which is why I felt comfortable live betting them to win the game outright. That was also my initial feeling and nothing major happened in the first half to change that. I will look at this game more in depth later but for now we are on to Sunday. Can’t Wait!