Zach Ertz and the Philadelphia Eagles are set to return to action this Saturday when they will host the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Kickoff is slated for 4:45pm ET and the game will air on NBC.
Following a bye week in the opening round of the playoffs, Ertz and the Eagles’ offense will be tasked with dissecting an Atlanta defense that ranked ninth in total yards allowed in the NFL this season.
While the Falcons are not considered an elite defense statistically (they ranked 12th in the NFL in passing yards allowed), they have played well on the defensive end to close out the regular season and in their Wild Card matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.
Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson respects the Falcons defense and acknowledged their great play over the last month, but he is confident in his offense that has played well all year.
“It’s a quality defense, but that’s what we expect this time of year,” said Pederson.
The Eagles and Ertz should enter this matchup with plenty of confidence. In the most recent matchup between these two teams in 2016, the Eagles left victorious in a 24-15 win in Philadelphia. Atlanta advanced to the Super Bowl that season and while the team’s rosters have changed, the Eagles have proved they can move the ball against the Atlanta defense and limit their potent offense.
A key matchup in this game will be Zach Ertz against the Atlanta linebackers, especially Deion Jones. Jones has played great football of late and Ertz has proven to be an important cog in the Philly offense.
This season, the Eagles have won all seven games in which Ertz, the team’s leading receiver, has hauled in a touchdown. In the 2016 meeting, Ertz did not record a touchdown but was certainly a factor, recording six catches for 55 yards.
Ertz will also look to be effective in the run game, which is hugely important in cold weather, playoff games. Ertz developed into a better blocker this season by helping spring Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount for big gains and the run game will help take some pressure off Nick Foles.
“We’ve got a great opportunity,” said Head Coach Doug Pederson, “let’s come out swinging and we’ll see what happens.”
Of the 4 NFC teams remaining, only TE Zach Ertz, age 27, had a better stat season than Jason Witten, 35. Not Kyle Rudolph, 28 or Austin Hooper, 23.
— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) January 9, 2018
The Falcons will not stop Zach Ertz. I think Ertz is going to be the x-factor and they won't be ready for him.
— Eagles Fans⚡️ (13-3) (@NoPhlyZone5) January 7, 2018
I want to see this all day! pic.twitter.com/XqH77TQIvE
— Jarad Goodwin (@DubJG) January 7, 2018