Falcons and Eagles Set To Kickoff NFL Regular Season Thursday Night

Written by Brian Pohl

Atlanta, GA- The NFL season is finally here and will kick off with a big week one matchup as the Atlanta Falcons travel up to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.


A rematch of the 2017 NFC Divisional round game, the Falcons will look to get revenge for their 15-10 defeat at the hands of the Eagles in the playoffs last season.


Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spoke about the season finally being here and his excitement for Thursday’s matchup saying, “Excited. Obviously, we’ve put in a lot of hard work during the offseason, during training camp to get to this point. I feel like we have a good, talented team. Guys that have worked really hard. We’re excited about the opportunity Thursday and hopefully kicking this thing off on the right foot.”


Atlanta enters week one at full strength, resting all of their starters in their final preseason game. And, protecting star offensive threats in wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Davonta Freeman throughout the preseason.


Falcons head coach Dan Quinn stated that Atlanta is “ready to let it rip” with Julio and the other players they allowed to rest.


A big storyline throughout training camp and the preseason was whether the Falcons offense could return to their 2016 production under second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. The Falcons tallied only 27 total points in their four preseason games, but are confident that when they suit up for real against the Eagles that they will be able to be more consistent.


Leading the offense is veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. The former MVP enters his 11th season in Atlanta and was asked about if the immediate rematch against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs will bring any extra motivation.


Ryan said, “I think you move on from that stuff as you start to train for the new season. It’s not about them. For us, it’s about us and how good of a football team that this group that we have can become. Beyond that, that’s all the motivation that I think we need. To see how far we can take this team right here.”


The player to keep an eye on is receiver Julio Jones. After being held out from playing throughout the preseason, the star wide receiver says he feels the best he has felt since the 2015 season and hopes his good health will allow him to be as explosive as ever. The Falcons will need Julio to be the leader of the skill position players, and after an offseason littered with contract talks and holdout rumors, Julio seems motivated to get off to a fast start this season.


Defensively, the Falcons boast a young, talented unit that is looking to make a name for themselves as a group. Returning two 2017 Pro Bowlers in linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, the Atlanta has a goal of becoming a top-10 defense in the NFL, and have the talent to do so.


Coach Quinn talked about the mindset of the defense and their objective this season saying, “Defensively, in cover teams when you create turnovers, two things happen: you’re going to give more drives to the offense, and they’re going to have less drive defensively.”


“Having those moments to create them is a big thing. We’ve made a big push of that this offseason that creating the takeaway defensively, we know we need more, but it’s really half the battle, but you have to go make them pay for the turnover that was created,” Quinn continued.


Creating turnovers will be the key for the Falcons this season, but will have a difficult test against an Eagles offense that doesn’t turn the ball over much.


Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced that backup quarterback Nick Foles will get the week one start over Carson Wentz, who is still recovering from his season-ending knee injury from last season. Being without their QB1 may cause Philadelphia to go more conservative in their playcalling. However, Foles is the same quarterback that won the MVP for the Eagles in their Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots, so they may have enough confidence in him to open up the playbook.


The matchup with two NFC divisional champions is a huge week one matchup to kick off the NFL season. It’s difficult to announce a favorite with the Eagles being without their starting quarterback, but one thing is certain, it’s great to have football back finally.


The Eagles and Falcons will kick off from Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night at 8:20 p.m on NBC.


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