The road to get here was filled with unexpected challenges for both teams, but in the end, the No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles and the No. 2 seed Minnesota Vikings advanced to the NFC title game.
Both are using primary running backs that did not begin the season as starters. Both have excellent defenses against both the run and the pass and both have creative, confounding offenses that found much more success during the regular season than anyone expected coming in.
In the meantime, unproven Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter in New England. He was uneven in the preseason opener (11 of 18, 168 yards) but that shouldn’t be cause for alarm; working out the kinks is the entire point of these practice games. Worst case, Brady returns and the Pats are 2-2, or maybe even 1-3, but thanks to playing in the AFC East, there’s still every reason to believe New England will win the division and return to the postseason for the eighth consecutive year.
The Eagles have a truly fearsome defense keyed by one of the league’s most imposing defensive lines, and thus the Falcons are going to have to fight even harder than usual to push down the field. The more drives that start from the 15 or even 10 yard line versus the 25 or even further downfield, the more acute that struggle is going to become. This is a game where every yard and every point is probably going to matter unless Nick Foles completely implodes, so it’ll be incumbent on the return game to make smart decisions and avoid penalties.
The folks over at The Falcoholic asked the question: What will the Eagles get out of Foles against the Falcons? From their perspective, there are some concerns, but it’s definitely preferable to playing against Wentz.
Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, was named Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America on Thursday, a testament to the Los Angeles Rams’ stunning turnaround under his watch.
The Rams were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Atlanta Falcons, but they led the NFL with six players on the Pro Football Writers’ All-NFL team — Gurley, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, kicker Greg Zuerlein, punter Johnny Hekker and return specialist Pharoh Cooper.