Falcons at Eagles

The big ‘ifs’

In the sixth game of the season, what if …

1. The
Falcons have to contain Michael Vick
or put pressure on Kevin Kolb. For the second week in a row, the
Falcons have prepared for two
quarterbacks. Last week it was Seneca Wallace and Jake
Delhomme.

Vick and Kolb are much better than both of the Browns
quarterbacks, but present the same fundamental issue.

“Kolb is more of a pocket passer although he can be mobile,”
Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said.
“Michael Vick has shown, year in and year out, although he had a
little break for a while, that he can play at a high level in this
league. It’s definitely a two-headed monster that we have to be
ready for.”

Vick appears to have improved his passing accuracy as he’s
completing 61.5 percent of his passes. His favorite target is
DeSean Jackson.

Kolb has not been able to stretch defenses much, and his
favorite targets are tight end Brent Celek and running back LeSean
McCoy.

Vick has completed 59 of 96 passes for 799 yards and six
touchdowns. He has a passer rating of 108.8. Kolb has completed 48
of 76 passes for 478 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
His quarterback rating is 84.2.

2. DeSean Jackson is kept under control as a receiver and punt
returner. Jackson, a third-year veteran, has developed into one of
the league’s top playmakers.

He has scored 18 touchdowns in his career and averages 46.9
yards per touchdown.

The
Falcons have a plan for Jackson.

“Just keeping him in front of us, and don’t let him get behind
us because that when he can hurt you,” safety Thomas DeCoud said.
“When he gets even with cornerbacks and safeties, that’s when his
speed shows up.”

Jackson has done most of his damage this season when Vick is at
quarterback. He has had only five catches for 43 yards in the past
two games with Kolb as the starting quarterback. He had 135 and 153
yards receiving in two games that Vick started.

“He’s stretching the field a little more with Vick because guys
are more mindful of Vick running the ball,” DeCoud said. “So it
kind of opens the field for him. It’s one of those things that we
have to play as soon as we can and make sure that we have him
covered up.”

3. The
Falcons keep their running game in
high gear.
Falcons running back Michael Turner
is coming off his biggest game of the season. He rushed for 140
yards against Cleveland, including runs of 55 and 22 yards.

Turner was out with an ankle injury and didn’t play in last
season’s game against Philadelphia at the Georgia Dome.

The Eagles are giving up 125.8 yards rushing per game, which
ranks 24th in the NFL.

“They have some really good players up front,”
Falcons center Todd McClure said.
“They are lighter guys, but they have speed and they get off the
ball.”

The Eagles will get creative with trying to stop the run. They
will flash a variety of run blitzes in addition to moving around a
lot in passing situations, too.

“They have a lot of speed on defense,” Turner said.

4. The game turns into a battle of turnovers. Both teams have
been opportunistic this season.

Last season, the Eagles defense had 38 forced turnovers, which
was third in the NFL. So far in 2010, the Eagles have eight
interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

The
Falcons lead the league with 10
interceptions (from nine different players) and have three fumble
recoveries.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has
thrown three interceptions this season and plans to be careful with
the ball. The Eagles defense ranks seventh in opponent passer
rating at 70.7 per game.

“On third down they do some unique things,” Ryan said. “It’s a
good scheme. You just have to identify and communicate well amongst
the offensive line and myself. We have to understand when we are
going to be protected and when we are not.”

5. Wide receiver Michael Jenkins comes back to help the red-zone
offense. Jenkins will see his first action of the season.

The
Falcons stalled on three trips
inside the opponent’s 20-yard line last week. Jenkins, at 6-foot-5,
will give the
Falcons an additional target.

“We are able to do a lot more things, especially in the pass
game,”
Falcons wide receiver Roddy White
said. “They do have little corners and we do have two 6-5 guys.
[Jenkins] and [Brian Finneran] are about to do a lot in the red
zone. We can get the ball up to those guys and let them snatch it
off of defenders’ heads and stuff.”

Jenkins suffered a shoulder injury diving for a deep pass in a
scrimmage Aug. 6. He has been working out for the past three weeks
before getting medically cleared to play.

Jenkins has caught at least 50 passes in each of the past three
seasons.

“I think it’s great that Mike is going to be able to play this
week,” Ryan said. “He’s been working hard in rehab since training
camp. He’s been out there running routes and looks great. He’ll be
a part of what we do offensively. He’s a big target. As a
quarterback, you love having a big guy on the outside. I think
he’ll be productive for us.”

Three key matchups

1.
Falcons CB Dunta Robinson vs.
Eagles WR DeSean Jackson: Robinson has been strong in run support,
but receivers have gotten open deep. Last week, Joshua Cribbs was
open deep, but Jake Delhomme overthrew him. Jackson has just five
catches for 43 yards over the past two games. However, he had 135
and 153 yards receiving in each game that Michael Vick started at
quarterback. “I’m just not really having the opportunity to make
these huge plays like I’ve been doing,” Jackson said.

2.
Falcons MLB Curtis Lofton vs.
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy: The Eagles rank first in the NFL in yards
per carry with 5.3, thanks in part to Vick’s scrambles. McCoy has
five rushing touchdowns, which is second in the league. The Eagles
average 130.4 rushing yards per game. Lofton and the
Falcons are swarming to the ball on
defense and held Cleveland to 40 yards rushing last week.

3.
Falcons LT Sam Baker vs. Eagles DE
Trent Cole: Baker appears to have settled down after a bumpy start
to the season. He’s facing another major challenge in Cole, whose
45 sacks since 2006 rank third in the NFL behind Dallas’ DeMarcus
Ware and Minnesota’s Jared Allen. Cole was part of the Eagles unit
that held the
Falcons scoreless until the final
play of the game last season.

History lesson

This is the 26th regular-season meeting.

The Eagles lead the series 14-10-1.

The Eagles routed the
Falcons 34-7 last season.

The two teams met in the NFC title game after the 2004 season
with the Eagles prevailing 27-10 and advancing to the Super
Bowl.

The Eagles have won the past three games and five of the last
six.

The Eagles are 7-1 against the
Falcons under coach Andy Reid.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

East

W L T Pct PF PA

N.Y. Jets 4 1 0 .800 135 81

New England 3 1 0 .750 131 96

Miami 2 2 0 .500 66 92

Buffalo 0 5 0 .000 87 161

South

W L T Pct PF PA

Houston 3 2 0 .600 118 136

Jacksonville 3 2 0 .600 107 137

Tennessee 3 2 0 .600 132 95

Indianapolis 3 2 0 .600 136 101

North

W L T Pct PF PA

Baltimore 4 1 0 .800 92 72

Pittsburgh 3 1 0 .750 86 50

Cincinnati 2 3 0 .400 100 102

Cleveland 1 4 0 .200 78 97

West

W L T Pct PF PA

Kansas City 3 1 0 .750 77 57

Oakland 2 3 0 .400 111 134

Denver 2 3 0 .400 104 116

San Diego 2 3 0 .400 140 106

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

East

W L T Pct PF PA

Washington 3 2 0 .600 89 92

N.Y. Giants 3 2 0 .600 106 98

Philadelphia 3 2 0 .600 122 103

Dallas 1 3 0 .250 81 87

South

W L T Pct PF PA

Atlanta 4 1 0 .800 113 70

Tampa Bay 3 1 0 .750 74 80

New Orleans 3 2 0 .600 99 102

Carolina 0 5 0 .000 52 110

North

W L T Pct PF PA

Chicago 4 1 0 .800 92 74

Green Bay 3 2 0 .600 119 89

Minnesota 1 3 0 .250 63 67

Detroit 1 4 0 .200 126 112

West

W L T Pct PF PA

Arizona 3 2 0 .600 88 138

Seattle 2 2 0 .500 75 77

St. Louis 2 3 0 .400 83 96

San Francisco 0 5 0 .000 76 130

Today’s games

Atlanta at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (Fox)

Seattle at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Miami at Green Bay, 1 p.m.

Kansas City at Houston, 1 p.m.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

San Diego at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.

Baltimore at New England, 1 p.m.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

N.Y. Jets at Denver, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

Oakland at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.

Dallas at Minnesota, 4:15 p.m. (Fox)

Indianapolis at Washington, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Open: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, Carolina

Monday’s game

Tennessee at Jacksonville, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Pro Football Challenge: Week 6

AJC sports columnists Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz are teaming
up with Channel 2 WSB-TV Sports Director Zach Klein to see who can
make the best predictions for select NFL games. Find out how they
did on “Sports Zone Sunday” at 11:35 p.m. on Channel 2. We’ll keep
a weekly tally here, too.

Pro Football Challenge, Week 6

AJC sports columnists Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz are teaming
up with Channel 2 WSB-TV Sports Director Zach Klein to see who can
make the best predictions for select NFL games. Find out how they
did on “Sports Zone Sunday” at 11:35 p.m. on Channel 2. We’ll keep
a weekly tally here, too.

Standings (Right — Wrong)

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Indianapolis at Washington

New Orleans at Tampa Bay

Miami at Green Bay

Baltimore at New England

Dallas at Minnesota

Oakland at San Francisco

N.Y. Jets at Denver

21-19

Atlanta

Indianapolis

New Orleans

Green Bay

Baltimore

Dallas

San Francisco

N.Y. Jets

17-23

Philadelphia

Indianapolis

New Orleans

Green Bay

New England

Minnesota

San Francisco

Denver

21-19

Atlanta

Indianapolis

New Orleans

Green Bay

New England

Minnesota

San Francisco

N.Y. Jets

Games this week

Standings (right-wrong)

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Indianapolis at Washington

New Orleans at Tampa Bay

Miami at Green Bay

Baltimore at New England

Dallas at Minnesota

Oakland at San Francisco

N.Y. Jets at Denver

Jeff Schultz

21-19

Atlanta

Indianapolis

New Orleans

Green Bay

New England

Minnesota

San Francisco

N.Y. Jets

Zach Klein

17-23

Philadelphia

Indianapolis

New Orleans

Green Bay

New England

Minnesota

San Francisco

Denver

Mark Bradley

21-19

Atlanta

Indianapolis

New Orleans

Green Bay

Baltimore

Dallas

San Francisco

N.Y. Jets