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Paul Domowitch's Eagles-Falcons scouting report

Recent history: The Eagles lost at Atlanta on Sept. 18, 2011, 35-31, squandering a fourth-quarter lead. The Eagles lead the series, 17-12-1.

Recent history: The Eagles lost at Atlanta on Sept. 18, 2011, 35-31, squandering a fourth-quarter lead. The Eagles lead the series, 17-12-1.

OFFENSE

Eagles: 379 yards per game (7th)

Falcons: 361.3 yards per game (13th)

QUARTERBACK

Eagles: Michael Vick must cut down on his turnovers. He's already got 13 in six games. He's done a good job against the blitz, particularly in the last three games (129.1 passer rating, .667 completion percentage, 9.5 yards per attempt). Vick is ranked third in the league in third-down passing.

Falcons: The Falcons had planned to become a more vertical offense this season, but they've got just 17 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Just five teams have fewer. Matt Ryan is deadly accurate on short and intermediate passes. Has a .751 completion percentage on passes that travel 15 yards or less in the air.

Pick: Falcons

RUNNING BACK

Eagles: The Falcons aren't very good vs. the run - 28th in rush yards allowed per game (143.8) and 31st in yards allowed per attempt (5.2). So logic would suggest LeSean McCoy will get more than the 14 carries he got vs. Detroit. McCoy has averaged just 2.5 yards per carry in the last two games.

Falcons: At age 30, Michael Turner isn't the player he used to be, but the 250-pound bowling bowl still is a load to bring down, particularly later in the game. He's averaging just 3.2 yards per carry on his first 10 attempts, but 7.0 on attempts 11 through 20. Turner clearly misses departed FB Ovie Mughelli.

Pick: Eagles

RECEIVING

Eagles: WR DeSean Jackson has a team-high 29 catches, but just six 20-plus-yard receptions and one 40-plus-yard catch. Eagles also have been using fewer two-TE sets recently. In the first two games, they used 2-TE sets on 38.6 percent of their plays. In the last four games, that percentage has fallen to 19.6.

Falcons: At 36, TE Tony Gonzalez may have lost a step, but the former Cal basketball star is as good as there is at screening defenders from the ball. He has 43 catches. Julio Jones is a big, fast receiver who is a physical runner after the catch. Roddy White is on his way to his third straight 100-catch season.

Pick: Falcons

OFFENSIVE LINE

Eagles: The unit is coming off its poorest overall performance of the season, against the Lions. Michael Vick was sacked three times and Le Sean McCoy was held to 22 yards on 14 carries. LT Demetress Bell has been benched, replaced by King Dunlap. C Dallas Reynolds and RG Danny Watkins have been inconsistent.

Falcons: Falcons gave up seven sacks to a Panthers defense that is ranked 18th in the league in sacks per pass play. OTs Sam Baker and Tyson Clabo both have struggled in pass protection. Collectively, they've allowed eight sacks, six QB hits and 22 hurries. C Todd McClure is a 14-year veteran who doesn't get fooled much.

Pick: Falcons

DEFENSE

Eagles: 330.8 yards per game (12th)

Falcons: 367.2 yards per game (22nd)

DEFENSIVE LINE

Eagles: For the first time in 29 years, the Eagles have failed to register a sack in three straight games. The front four has been stymied by max-protections and two-step drops. New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles likely will do some things to try and force more one-on-one pass-rushing situations.

Falcons: New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has maximized his best pass-rushing weapon, DE John Abraham, moving him around the line and even standing him up on occasion. Abraham, who had 9 1/2 sacks last season, already has six. Kroy Bierman and Ray Edwards rotate at the two end spots with Abraham.

Pick: Eagles

LINEBACKER

Eagles: Mychal Kendricks and the rest of the LBs will bear much of the responsibility for trying to neutralize dangerous TE Tony Gonzalez. They've given up just one TD to a tight end in the first six games. Eagles' run defense hasn't been as good in the last two games (4.6 yards allowed per carry).

Falcons: WLB Sean Weatherspoon had a breakout year in 2011 and is playing even better this season. He's a three-down linebacker who excels in coverage, is solid against the run and is one of the league's better blitzing LBs. He's already got three sacks. MLB Curtis Lofton left in free agency and was replaced by Akeem Dent.

Pick: Even

SECONDARY

Eagles: A lack of safety depth makes it imperative Nate Allen (hamstring) returns. CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have the size and skill set to match up with WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White. Eagles have held opponents to a league-best .527 completion percentage and allowed just seven TD passes.

Falcons: Atlanta acquired Asante Samuel with the idea of moving Dunta Robinson into the slot. But Brent Grimes' season-ending Achilles' injury killed that plan. Samuel has bought in to Mike Nolan's defense. His familiarity with Michael Vick and the Eagles' receivers will make for an interesting cat-and-mouse game.

Pick: Even

SPECIAL TEAMS

Eagles: The Eagles are 27th in the league in punt coverage and 28th in kickoff coverage. They've given up eight KRs of 36 yards or more. Their inept return teams (28th in KRs, 31st in PRs) are a big reason the Eagles are near the bottom of the league in starting field position (24.6). PK Alex Henery has made 12 of 13 FG tries.

Falcons: P Matt Bosher is seventh in the league in net average (42.4). He also handles kickoffs and is tied for seventh in the league in touchbacks with 22. KR Jacquizz Rodgers is a home run threat who is averaging 31.3 yards per return. PK Matt Bryant has one of the league's most consistent legs.

Pick: Falcons

DOMO'S PREDICTION: EAGLES 27, FALCONS 24

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KEY MATCHUPS

1. Eagles DEs Jason Babin and Trent Cole vs. Falcons OTs Sam Baker and Tyson Clabo: Babin and Cole haven't had a sack since Week 3. Baker and Clabo both are going to have problems in one-on-one situations. Advantage: Eagles

2. Eagles QB Michael Vick vs. Falcons CB Asante Samuel: Nobody is better at studying quarterback tendencies than Samuel. Vick's already got eight interceptions. Advantage: Falcons

3. Eagles LT King Dunlap vs. Falcons RDE John Abraham: Abraham lines up on both the left and right sides. But he'll likely want to get matched up against Dunlap as much as possible. Advantage: Falcons

HOT AND NOT

HOT

Eagles: WR Jeremy Maclin. Had six catches for 130 yards, including a 70-yard TD catch and run against the Lions.

Falcons: TE Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been targeted 54 times and has 43 receptions, four for TDs. Has 50-plus receiving yards in five of six games.

NOT

Eagles: DE Darryl Tapp. Tapp has one-half of a sack, one QB hit and no hurries in 138 snaps.

Falcons: DE Ray Edwards. Edwards has no sacks, two QB hits and two hurries in 171 snaps.

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