If there is one out of division game on the schedule that will really get the Atlanta Falcons and their fans fired up, it’s this game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both of these teams are intimately familiar with each other, and the things that connect them are also the things that expand the rift between the two. Let’s look at the history between the two over the last few years.
In the 2005 NFL playoffs, the Falcons were rolling. They just happened to run into a Philadelphia Eagles team in the NFC Championship game that defeated them, denying them a second Super Bowl appearance. In that season, the Falcons were led by current Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick.
Fast forward a few years. Michael Vick goes to jail, pays his dues to society, and joins the Eagles fresh out of college. In the 2009 season he comes back to Atlanta with Philly, and produces two scores on the way to soundly beating his previous team in his previous home stadium.
In 2010, Vick didn’t start, but the Falcons got manhandled in Philadelphia, on both sides of the ball. It was one of three losses on the season for that Falcons team.
2011 brought some vengeance for the Falcons. In week 2, the Falcons took on the Eagles in the Georgia Dome, and handled the ‘Dream Team’ in a shootout, 35-31. Close win, but some consolation for the Falcons.
2012 brings a completely different dynamic. The Falcons are rolling, and while they haven’t looked particularly outstanding in their past three games, they are still 6-0. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and are capable of demolishing people on any given week.
Philly is coming into week 8 off their bye, just like the Falcons, but are 3-3. While they haven’t looked very good in their last three games either, they have suffered gut-wrenching losses in two of them, and completely imploded late in games. At the same time, they are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball as well.
Philadelphia is desperate for a win, as they run the risk of dropping below .500 with a loss on Sunday. While the Falcons are 6-0, they are just as desperate, as they need a good solid win against a very talented opponent. They need as many NFC wins as possible, and a good performance against a team like the Eagles would go a long way toward furthering their ultimate goals.
Can the Falcons force Michael Vick into continuing to be a turnover machine? Will Matt Ryan make the Eagles defense look dismal, or will the promotion of a new defensive coordinator in the City of Brotherly love doom the Falcons? It will be interesting to see how it plays out.