Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday 13 January, 21:35
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action, Mix and Main Event
For the Falcons...
An impressive win at the LA Rams on wildcard weekend has opened up the route back to the big show for Atlanta, a year after that heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl LI.
They go into Philly as the straight up favourite despite being the six seed. This has more to do with the QB situation that the Eagles are faced with than punters being enamoured with Atlanta.
Matt Ryan was solid, nothing more last Saturday night. He went 21/30 for 218 yards and one score. The running backs were ok but that was it. Mohamed Sanu along with Julio Jones caught big plays when they had to but it wasn't a vintage performance.
The win had more to do with the two early Special Teams turnovers from the Rams than it did great play from the Falcons. Logically they would really have to up their game if they were to carry on this journey to the NFC Championship Game. I'm not sure that they are capable of that but they have one big thing in their favour, Philly will be starting a backup QB.
For the Eagles...
Yes that's right, Carson Wentz and his season ending injury has opened the door to backup Nick Foles to step in. Going into playoff football without your starting QB rarely leads to anything good.
The 28 year-old is highly unlikely to go out and win this game for the home team. All he can realistically do is not lose it. This means an awful lot of pressure will be on the O-line to open up holes for the two-headed Running Back monster.
LeGarrette Blount has clearly been usurped by British born Jay Ajayi in the backfield as the number one back. The Eagles will have to rely on a heavy dose of the pair to draw the defense into stacking the box, in an attempt to open up options in the vertical passing game.
If Wentz was healthy, Philly would be a Touchdown favourite. Instead they are getting a Field Goal on the spread. The question is whether the backup QB is ten points worse than the starter?
The line has been set at Atlanta -3. My trust level in Matt Ryan is tenuous at best, my belief in Nick Foles to produce is even lower. You rarely get a chance to pick a home underdog in the playoffs but you do here. I wouldn't. Atlanta -3 at 2.0811/10 on the Exchange.
Points-wise the line has been set at 41. With Foles at the helm of the Philly offense that will surely rely on pounding the rock, therefore shortening the game, I can see why the number is so low. Unders is my play at 1.9520/21 on the Exchange.
On the side markets, I'm looking at an old friend. Doubling up on the Atlanta D/ST and Philadelphia D/ST to score the first Touchdown. They are priced at 19/1 and 22/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook respectively and in big games, nerves often play a factor with QBs. Worth a small play on both.