This article series will certainly make more sense after week 1. After all, NFL teams generally go into the first game of the season with their guys healthy and no impact to their division standings. Right?
Well, as the injuries in Baltimore remind us, this sport is brutal and you can’t make any assumptions about health before the first game is played. Even more so, Thursday night games can throw a wrench in things as well.
The Falcons are going into this game fully healthy. The only player who was on the injury report this week was Brandon Copeland, and he finished the week as a full participant. This obviously doesn’t take into account players like Josh Andrews who are on injured reserve.
The Eagles are not fully healthy and one of their key injuries could bode well for Atlanta. Starting safety Rodney McLeod is officially ruled out. This could have an impact and give Kyle Pitts or Hayden Hurst some additional opportunities on Sunday. Backup OL Landon Dickerson has also been ruled out. The only questionable player is LB Davion Taylor, who probably figured to only make an impact on special teams initially.
While this is the first game of the season, both the Falcons and Eagles were impacted by the Thursday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the Dan Quinn Cowboys finding a way to lose in the final seconds to the Tom Brady Bucs (gosh, who saw that coming), the Falcons are now technically behind in the NFC South while the Eagles currently have a leg up on Dallas.
This puts an interesting twist on things for the Falcons. If they do lose to the Eagles and face Vita Vea and the Bucs and lose again, they’ll quickly be in the hole in the division. While there’s no such thing as a “must win” week one game, Atlanta doesn’t want to start the season 2 games back in just the first two weeks either.