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Game of the Week: Falcons at Eagles
"I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better," remarked German scientist and satirist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, a sentiment seconded by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Only six games into their schedule, the Eagles have seen turnover in their ranks, with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo receiving the boot during the team's bye week. Though the move was designed to spur the squad from their pedestrian 3-3 record, it may have signaled that a wave of renovation is near, most notably in the cases of head coach Andy Reid and starting signal caller Michael Vick. Not exactly what the City of Brotherly Love envisioned 13 months ago for the infamously self-appointed "Dream Team."
While "must-win game" is an overworked and misused label, such a designation applies for Philadelphia's upcoming encounter with Atlanta, as roster upheaval is on the horizon. Consequently, the contest qualifies as "must-see TV" and serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
In some ways, it's poignant that Vick's final game as field general for Philly comes against the franchise that drafted him in 11 years ago. The narrative that has ensued since the spring of 2001 has ranged from a Greek tragedy to movie-of-the-week triumph, with more twists and turns than an O. Henry composition. Alas, the chronicle, at least the Eagles chapter, is one ill-advised fumble away from nearing completion. Despite ranking seventh in yards per game, Philadelphia is averaging just 17.2 points per contest, second-worst in the NFC. This lack of lighting up the scoreboard is attributed to Vick's carelessness with the pigskin, as the quarterback owns 13 turnovers in six games. This sloppiness has also correlated to a NFL-worst minus-nine takeaway ratio for the Eagles in 2012. With talented weapons in LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, it's easy to envision what a steady presence could provide for the Eagles offense, and it's that conviction that places Vick on the hot seat this weekend.
Not that this game's spotlight will be solely on Philadelphia. The Falcons enter as the last remaining team with an unblemished mark, rocking a 6-0 record. Duo dexterity on both sides of the ball have aided this endeavor, as the defensive unit is holding opponents to under 19 points per contest (seventh-fewest in the league) while the offense's new up-tempo attack has equated to, you got it, the seventh-best scoring average in the league. The latter's performance has vaulted Matt Ryan into MVP consideration, as the fifth-year arm flaunts a career-best mark 292.7 passing yards per game with 15 total touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the Dirty Birds, their regular-season display will mean little if they continue to falter in the postseason. Under the regime of Mike Smith, the Falcons have won 43 games the past four seasons, fifth-most during that time span. However, Atlanta has also failed to notch a victory in the playoffs, falling short on three occasions. If such an inadequacy befalls the team again, Smith might find himself in a similar situation as the one currently facing his Sunday counterpart Reid.
With the Falcons chasing perfection and the Eagles fighting for their livelihoods, who comes out on top? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Falcons emerge victorious 66.1 percent of the time by an average margin of 22-18. For the rest of this week's projections, check below:
Please note: The Jaguars-Packers, Dolphins-Jets, Seahawks-Lions, Giants-Cowboys, 49ers-Cardinals and Patriots-Rams games were resimulated on 10/25 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 8
|@ Green Bay Packers||84.6||30||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||79.0||27||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||61.1||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||59.3||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||58.9||23||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||43.2||27||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||56.8||30||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||56.4||22||Simulate Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||47.7||21||Boxscore|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||52.3||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||49.4||24||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||59.9||26||Boxscore|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||40.1||23||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||61.5||26||Boxscore|
|@ Cleveland Browns||38.5||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||33.9||18||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||67.7||24||Boxscore|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||32.3||18||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||68.5||28||Boxscore|
|@ St. Louis Rams||31.5||22||Simulate Game|
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