Tonight is one of the biggest nights of the year. After a hard couple months of silently waiting for the football season to begin it is finally here.
Kicking off the 2018-2019 season will be the Atlanta Falcons traveling to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia as they begin their journey to the post season against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.
As the season begins, I will be previewing all of the Thursday, Sunday and Monday night matchups for the remainder of the season.
Focusing strictly on one offensive and defensive player while also throwing in a dark horse candidate.
Offensively, running back Devonta Freeman will be a force to reckon with this season. His speed and physicality place him within a group of top running backs currently in the NFL. Through 14 games played last season, Freeman ran the ball 196 times for a total of 865 yards and seven touchdowns. However, Freeman also saw his fair share of reps during passing situations after recording 36 receptions for 317 yards and one touchdown for the Falcons last season.
Defensively, safety Ricardo Allen could be a fun player to watch especially against the talent the Philadelphia Eagles possess on offense. Previously inking a three year deal with the Falcons, Allen has shown throughout his career how important he truly is. Allen has recorded 213 tackles and six interceptions during his career and that number will only continue to grow. His ability to move fluently while good burst speed and reaction time allows him to quickly adjust on plays without being beat.
However, tonight we get to witness Matt Ryan aka Matty Ice back in action and under center for the Falcons. Ryan has proven to be a clutch performer and has stepped up to the occasion more than once. Has terrific eyes that continuously scan the field to find an open receiver. If Ryan can continue to be a dominant part of the Falcons offense, I strongly believe the Falcons will be back to Super Bowl form this season with a strong receiver corp in Sanu, Jones, and Ridley.
Offensively, Nick Foles was a fantastic quarterback after Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL. Foles will continue to get his chance to prove himself as Wentz is likely not to start in the NFL for a couple weeks. His ability to avoid pressure and throw accurate passes off of his back foot has been a highly impressive aspect of his game in recent years. His arm strength is above average and is able to connect not only downfield but as well as Crossfield situations.
Defensively, newly acquired defensive end Michael Bennett could easily contribute to arguably the strongest defensive line in the NFL. Bennett has strong hands and fast feet that allows him to quickly shed blocks and attack the quarterback. His athletic ability is impressive and he can run from sideline to sideline to make plays.
The Eagles’ defense previously allowed the Falcons just 10 points last season and just 15 the season prior, it will be interesting to see how the defensive line can shut down the run and get into the head of Matt Ryan.
Jay Ajayi could be a dark horse candidate for the Philadelphia Eagles tonight. After being acquired via trade from the Miami Dolphins, Ajayi quickly rose to the occasion and was a disruptive force within the Eagles running game. His speed and lateral quickness set him apart from other running backs on the roster but not to mention that Ajayi continuously moves his feet and fights for extra yardage.
Prediction: Eagles 28 Falcons 13
This will be a good showdown for both team’s offenses, but will also be able to highlight the defensive talent both teams possess.