This has me extremely worried. ESPN's entire panel of "experts" has picked the Eagles to win their game at home against the Atlanta Falcons today. This can't be a good sign. That's just bad juju.
Let's ignore that for now, assume that even Merrill Hoge will get lucky once in a while, and talk about the keys to today's game. As always, on defense stopping the run is the key. This week, there's a big reason for that, and it involves Brian Dawkins. The Falcons running game is impressive, they've rushed for over 2,700 yards this year. But when they're forced to pass, the only player you have to worry about is tight end, Alge Crumpler. Brian Dawkins will be covering Crumpler most of the time. If Dawkins needs to worry about run support Crumpler is going to be open. He needs to be able to concentrate on his coverage assignment all day, which means the front seven needs to contain Warrick Dunn, Michael Vick and Jerious Norwood.
On offense, the Eagles need to control the line of scrimmage again. Brian Westbrook missed two days of practice this week with the flu, but did participate in the walk-through yesterday and should be ready to go today. Hopefully, his legs will be fresh. He's carried quite a load the past four weeks, and they're going to need him to do it again.
The Eagles are in the playoffs, that much is certain, but if they don't win this game they'll probably have to travel to Seattle for their first round game. If they win, they get to host the first round. Not to mention the fact they'll be entering the playoffs as the hottest team in the NFC. The Falcons can never be taken lightly, especially with a wild card like Michael Vick at quarterback. My prediction: Eagles 31, Falcons 28.