Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early buzz in Atlanta sports.
On the eve of the Falcons-Eagles playoff game in Philadelphia, here’s a sampling of insights into the matchup . . .
NFL.com laments that Carson Wentz’s knee injury robbed this game of a Wentz-Matt Ryan clash and calls Nick Foles-vs.-Ryan possibly the most lopsided quarterback matchup of the weekend.”(T)he Eagles are about to find out if a robust ground attack, a punishing defense and home-field advantage can compensate for a liability at American sports' most glaringly important position,” Chris Wesseling writes.
CBS Sports ranks the 16 possible remaining Super Bowl LII pairings and concludes that a Falcons-Patriots rematch would be the most compelling. “No one would use the words ‘Super Bowl hangover’ and ‘Falcons’ in the same sentence ever again if Atlanta makes it to the Super Bowl and beats the Patriots,” John Breech writes. But he adds: “After last year's Super Bowl and UGA's blown lead in the national title game, I have to think at least half the state (of Georgia) is mortified at the thought of watching another football game where there's a championship on the line.”
The Washington Post notes the Falcons are a 2.5-point favorite over the Eagles, making Philadelphia the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in the divisional round since 1970. “Only five previous home teams have been underdogs in the divisional round since the merger, but all were No. 2 seeds,” Neil Greenberg writes. “But there is a silver lining, Philadelphia: Those five were 4-1 despite being discounted by the oddsmakers.”
Nearly twice as much money has been bet on Falcons-Eagles than any of the other four playoffs games this weekend @WilliamHillUS. 74 percent of the money is on Atlanta.— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) January 12, 2018
DON’T MISS ...
Julio Jones slept through Alabama’s win but is pumped for the playoffs. Read Jeff Schultz’s column here.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has agreed in principle on a two-year contract extension through the 2022 season. Read Ken Sugiura’s report here.