Over the last two seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons have had a couple of physical battles in big-time games. The first of these two came in the 2018 NFC Divisional Round, where the Eagles edged the Falcons to kickstart their run to the Super Bowl. Both teams battled all game long to a 15-10 final score at Lincoln Financial Field.
To open the 2018 regular season, the NFL decided to run back the Divisional matchup from a year prior, and the two teams did not disappoint, again battling for all four quarters in a tightly contested season opener. Zach Ertz and the Eagles once again came away victorious by a score of 18-12.
The defenses have always come to play in their recent matchups, and this is expected to be another tough test under the lights for the Eagles. Zach has recorded eight catches for 80 yards in the last two meetings with the Falcons, and he will come ready to battle with Falcons linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal throughout the night.
The Eagles offense exploded in the second half in Week 1, en route to a 32-27 win over the Washington Redskins, and they will look to continue racking up yards on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. DeSean Jackson proved in his Week 1 return to the Eagles that he is still a dangerous deep threat, which will give the Atlanta Falcons something new to prepare for ahead of Sunday night.
“It allows us to be explosive. We haven’t had a guy like that since he left. To know that each and every time you line up as an offense the next play could be a touchdown, it’s huge. The safeties have got to back up a little bit, there should be more space in the middle of the field, which is huge for some of the rest of us,” Ertz said.
The offense will look to play its part in Week 2, and the defense will have a tough test ahead of them as well, as they try to contain Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and the rest of the Falcons offense. The Falcons struggled in Week 1 offensively against a stout Minnesota Vikings defense, but their offense has plenty of explosive weapons that can strike at any time, much like the Eagles’ offense.
The defensive front for Philly, led by Fletcher Cox, will likely be a big factor in the result of this game. Minnesota was able to pressure Ryan and force a pair of interceptions last week, and the Eagles defensive front will be looking to replicate that kind of production to disrupt the Falcons’ attack.
“That’s ideal,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “You want to pressure the quarterback and get him off his spot. Hit him. Get to him. No quarterback likes to be hit.”
In recent years, this matchup has been an old-school one, a battle that has been won in the trenches. The Eagles offensive and defensive lines will be huge in determining their success on Sunday night, and Zach’s versatility in the passing game and his effectiveness run-blocking will be a key to a second straight victory to start the season.
Kickoff is set in Atlanta for 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.