Falcons defeat Rams in NFC wild card game

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Notes: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was back at practice Wednesday after missing Tuesday's workout for personal reasons. When we put teams behind the chains, we can make it tough for them. "We haven't been a very successful team in the last 10 years".

Philadelphia's defense has been up and down recently, and it has dealt with a bunch of injuries. "[Defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz has always been that way".

That's because, after quarterback Nick Foles' bad performance during the last two regular season games, I'm not exactly brimming with optimism and am wary of spreading skepticism, in case it's contagious. It wouldn't be shocking to see Foles fly. Yet the challenge facing the Falcons on Saturday is one larger than a matter of identity or balance. The Eagles had a great season, but their MVP; Carson Wentz; tore his ACL at the end of the season. They're supposedly ticked off. It's a weird point spread, considering Atlanta never had to play on the road during last year's playoff run. They've got a lot of advantages here, playing at home.

Prediction: I trust the Falcons a lot more now that they demonstrated the mental toughness to win in the playoffs, despite what happened last February. "I've been using the experience of having played them earlier this year, just remembering some of the things that worked and other things that we can fix".

But this one is in New England. RB Devonta Freeman is aiming for 5th playoff game in row with TD. There'll be another one up there next weekend. They may well raise their game after this. Based on talent alone, they probably are the NFL's most skilled squad. Remember, Jacksonville already beat the Steelers in convincing fashion at Heinz Field back in October. Logic says this should be a rout. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey had six from his interior spot, while Morgan led the Titans with 7½ sacks. This suggests that either Wentz is better than Rodgers or Hundley is better than Foles, neither of which would pass the smell test in Vegas (and the bar is set pretty low for a smell test in many parts of Las Vegas).

OK, enough of that. Pittsburgh's offense will look to make a statement early and often. As all but Mike Pelaia predicted, New Orleans handled their business at home and now make a trip to the home of Super Bowl LII to face the Vikings. The Saints are just all around great on both sides of the football. New Orleans didn't have Alvin Kamara as a factor in the backfield and Minnesota had Sam Bradford as quarterback and not Case Keenum.

Look for this one to come down to which defense asserts itself.

"You can go overboard either way", he said in response to a question about the Eagles' corners being too aggressive. "Without giving away all my secrets, I like a certain body type with guys".

"Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we'll take, what went well and what didn't go well and try to improve on that", Ryan said. The Jaguars secondary is risky and will likely have their hands full just trying to cover both Antonio Browns and Juju Smith-Schuster. Sambrailo played seven of 73 offensive snaps (9.6 percent) against the Rams and 10 of 72 (13.9 percent) against the Panthers.

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