Eagles -1, 2 unit risk (1 to 5 unit scale)
Jeffery and Hollis’s injuries along with Wentz not playing are a little overblown in my opinion – the Eagles can rely more on Ertz, Agholor, Ajayi (who is active), Clement, and Sproles (who comes back tonight and had a good camp). New TE Dallas Goedert looked really good in the preseason and the Eagles will use a lot more 2 tight end sets tonight to limit the impact of their injuries. Foles looked bad in the preseason but he also looked bad against Oakland on Christmas before he won a Super Bowl. Jason Peters also comes back tonight.
The defense is as strong as it was last year (if not better) with the only concern being OLB Nigel Bradham’s suspension for tonight, but the Eagles coaches feel they have a strong rotation of backups to plug the hole. The Eagles were the #1 rush defense in the NFL last year and are even stronger on the D-line now with Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett. You can’t say the same about the Falcons after losing Dontari Poe. The Eagles’ secondary is pretty deep and should have the size to compete with Calvin Ridley. Julio Jones had 101 yards on 9 catches last year in the playoff loss, so Julio could have a big night tonight and the Eagles could still be in the game.
The key will be how much Steve Sarkisian has improved as the Falcons OC. Until I see it I’m not willing to bet on this guy and not on the road vs the Super Bowl champs. SB champs are 15-3 SU in Week 1 since 2000, the Eagles are 11-1 SU at home their last 12 and Matt Ryan is 1-4 SU lifetime at Philadelphia (losing by an average of 10.3 ppg). The line dropping from 4 to 1 should get the Eagles’ attention. It could be close but I’ll back the Super Bowl champs on a historic night where they might ride the disrespect wave again.