Week Thirteen Preview – Atlanta Falcons

The Eagles continue their march towards the playoffs as they travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Atlanta is a team on the outside looking in on the playoff race and will really need to beat Philadelphia if they want to have a shot. The Falcons are unbeaten at home and will look to continue the trend. Both teams have been struck hard by the injury bug and will need a lot of players to step up in order to find a way to win.

Here’s some quick team stats and league rankings:

Points per game: 24.7 (8th)
Yards per game: 339.5 (16th)
Pass yards per game: 221.3 (17th)
Rush yards per game: 118.2 (13th)

Points per game: 22.3 (19th)
Yards per game: 373.9 (27th)
Pass yards per game: 252.6 (27th)
Rush yards per game: 121.3 (23rd)

Chris Redman – We can’t say a whole lot about Chris Redman, because we don’t know a whole lot about Chris Redman. Most people don’t. He’s been in the league for quite sometime but doesn’t have anything to show for it. He was able to hook up with Roddy White last week on a game winning touchdown but it was against a terrible Tampa Bay team who had Atlanta on their heels. I don’t think Redman will be one of the better quarterbacks the Birds face this year but they can’t afford to take him lightly. I’m sure they will attack him as much as possible and force him to make turnovers. I look for Asante to really toy with his mind and get his hands on the ball.

Running backs – Atlanta has had a bit of a running back carousel going on the last few weeks. Michael Turner tried to come back too early and ended up re-injuring himself last week. If he is unable to go, Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling will handle the duties. Snelling had a big game when he replaced Turner and will look to do so again. Norwood is more of your explosive third down type back who has a lot of success catching balls out of the backfield. Turner is a solid running back but they have the depth behind him that they can get by with.

Roddy White – His numbers are down a bit compared to last year in terms of yardage but he’s found the end zone as many times in 12 games this year as he did last year. He is an explosive receiver and on the Birds will have to keep an eye on all day. I’m not sure if they will give as many downfield opportunities with Chris Redman in the game rather than Matt Ryan, but I still expect Redman to look his way a lot.

Tony Gonzalez – Oh boy. The Eagles have to face yet another elite tight end. Gonzo is one of the best in the business and has been for quite sometime. Tight ends get checked down to a lot so I think Redman might try to use him as a security blanket early and often on Sunday. Since we’ve had trouble covering the tight end position all year, I could definitely see Gonzalez having a big game. Hopefully, the Eagles can minimize that as much as possible.

I’m not going to focus on any players here because none really stand out to me. If you look at the numbers, the Falcons defense has been very vulnerable all year. They have been giving up over 250 yards through the air and 120 yards on the ground and rank near the bottom as far as yards per game are concerned. Not having DeSean Jackson will be tough but I think this is the kind of team you can really move the ball against and control the clock. We haven’t seen the Eagles do this a whole lot but would be nice to see them start Sunday. I’d like to see Leonard Weaver get involved early and pound out some solid yardage all game. You wouldn’t think the Birds will attack down field as much without DeSean but this is a secondary you should consistently be able to pick up first downs against. Donovan has to be accurate with his passes and his receivers have to create some space. I think this could be done and the Eagles should be able to put up some serious points.

Special Teams
The Falcons have brought Matt Bryant in to take over field goal duties. If you don’t remember who he is you can go here to have your heart re-broken. Hopefully this game doesn’t come down to Falcons having the opportunity to kick a game winning field goal again because my heart can’t handle that.