That’s what the Atlanta Falcons did a week ago against a tough Los Angeles Rams team (a 26-13 victory for the Falcons). Today, they’ll face tough defense and an offense that is effectively a rudderless ship.
The Philadelphia Eagles are stout against the run, but Atlanta has some solid depth in its backfield. If the Falcons can get any combination of Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward rolling, it’ll open up options for the passing game.
Quarterback Matt Ryan must find ways to get the ball into the hands of his key playmakers, Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. His receivers, tight ends and running backs need to actually catch the ball when it gets there -- a problem the Falcons have struggled with throughout the season.
It’s a shame for the Eagles, really. This team is loaded with offensive talent, but when quarterback Carson Wentz, in the midst of an MVP-worthy season, went down with a torn ACL a month ago, backup quarterback Nick Foles entered the starting role.
Foles, in roughly three whole games worth of work, has been hit-and-miss. He followed up a four-touchdown performance against the Giants with mediocre numbers against the Oakland Raiders and a 4-for-11, 39-yard outing against the Dallas Cowboys before being pulled to give his backup, Nate Sudfeld some work.
The Eagles made a mistake by not signing free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick and letting him learn the playbook for the past month since Philadelphia had effectively clinched their division. Instead of having a quarterback who is 4-2 as a starter in the postseason, they’ve got Foles, who is 0-1 in playoff games.
Make that 0-2, if the Falcons stop the ground game and linebacker Vic Beasley gets his hands on Foles.
Final score: Falcons 23, Eagles 16
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
If there’s any team that thrives in the face of adversity or controversy, it’s the Patriots.
Despite reports of a rift between New England quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, the trifecta of greatness in the NFL shouldn’t have any worries against a Titans team that is a two-touchdown underdog.
Titans running back Derrick Henry will get another opportunity to showcase his abilities as a lead back for head coach Mike Mularkey -- or a new coach reviewing the game film if Mularkey is sent back to the coaching carousel.
I can’t even pretend this game will be close. I definitely don’t see Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota pulling any rabbits out of a hat or his errant passes out of the sky.
Final score: Patriots 31, Titans 17
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers
For those who have a short-term memory, the 13-3 Steelers have played this Jaguars team once already at home, a 30-9 loss to the reinvigorated Jacksonville bunch.
The game featured Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles throwing for 95 yards, but he didn’t throw five costly interceptions like his “Killer B’s” counterpart.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had two of his interceptions returned by the Jaguars for touchdowns. Running back Le’Veon Bell bumbled through the game with just 93 yards on 25 touches, while wide receiver Antonio Brown generated 157 yards on 10 catches with no touchdowns. The only “B” with scoring prowess in that contest for Pittsburgh was kicker Chris Boswell, who went 3-for-3 on field goals.
People make a big deal out of Bortles and his low passing yards from the previous meeting, but he’s coming off a 10-3 Wild Card playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills where he threw for 87 yards. If the Jaguars do what worked best in both games, they’ll advance to the AFC Championship round.
Final score: Jaguars 17, Steelers 13
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Another regular-season rematch pits the Saints against the Vikings. New Orleans opened 2017 with a 29-19 loss to Minnesota, but the Vikings have a different quarterback captaining the ship.
Case Keenum took over for an injured Sam Bradford early in the Vikings’ season, and to the surprise of many, he has played well above expectations.
The Saints survived a 31-26 Wild Card battle with a Carolina Panthers squad lacking in offensive firepower. Minnesota has a capable pair of wide receivers, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, plus tight end Kyle Rudolph.
I doubt it’ll be a breeze for Drew Brees against the Vikings’ top-ranked defense.
Final score: Vikings 24, Saints 20
Thursday Twitter pick: 11-7
Last week’s record: 1-3
Overall record (through Wild Card Round): 164-96
Perfect picks: 1