The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter & Noah Coslov get into the thinking behind Thomas Dimitroff's contract extension, the Kyle Shanahan-Matt Ryan relationship & the biggest challenge in Philadelphia.
Here are 5 things to mull over before today's 1 p.m. kickoff between the Atlanta Falcons (6-3) and the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) at Lincoln Financial Field.
1. Tale of the tape. Here's how the Falcons and the Eagles stack up statistically:
2016 Regular Season Statistics Rankings
2. Series record. This will be the 30th regular-season meeting. The Eagles lead the series 15-13-1. The Falcons won the last meeting, 26-24, on Sept. 14, 2015 at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons beat the Eagles 30-17 on their last visit to Philadelphia on Oct. 28, 2102 as Julio Jones caught a 63-yard touchdown pass.
3. Key matchups: It will be interesting to see how the Falcons defense Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who operates out of the slot at 6-foot-5. Falcons nickel back Brian Poole is 5-9.
“We’ll change some matchups as it’s going," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "He is a very good player inside in the slot. He is on their highest targeted guys. (Dorial) Green-Beckham is also a big guy as well and Nelson Agholor is the one who, is built different and has the long speed. It’s different how the matchup go when we are playing or man-to-man and zone. We don’t always just match up on man-to-man. We do that some too in the zones, too."
Here are other key matchups:
Falcons CB Jalen Collins vs. Eagles WR Jordan Matthews: Collins is expected to replace Desmond Trufant, who has a shoulder injury. Collins, a former second-round pick, saw his most extensive action of the season against the Bucs last week. He played well in zone coverage and came up strong in run support. Matthews, a precise route-runner, is the Eagles’ leading receiver with 42 catches for 507 yards and three touchdowns.
Falcons DE Vic Beasley vs. Eagles RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai: The second-year pass rusher leads the Falcons with 7.5 sacks and has helped revive the team’s long dormant pass rush. He’s mostly using his speed to torment tackles and is finishing stronger around the quarterback. Vaitai has taken over for the suspended Lane Johnson and has improved steadily since being inserted into the lineup. The rookie from TCU has steadied his play since giving up 2.5 sacks against the Redskins four games ago. He has a 32-inch vertical and lifted 225 pounds 27 times at the combine.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs. Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins: On his current pace, Ryan will pass for 5,298 yards and 41 touchdowns. The past three MVPs, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, averaged 4,565 passing yards and 43 touchdowns. Ryan has connected with at least seven receivers in all of the team’s games and the diversified offense makes it difficult for teams to double-team Julio Jones. Jenkins, a former New Orleans Saint, has one fumble recovery, a sack and has returned an interception 64 yards for a touchdown. He also has 33 tackles this season.
4. Official crew. Wrolstad Crew -- R: Craig Wrolstad (4). FJ: Steve Zimmer (33). U: Barry Anderson (31). SJ: Jeff Lamberth (21). HL: Mark Hittner (28). BJ: Lee Dyer (27). LJ: Julian Mapp. RO:
GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT
GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16
GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24