FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons’ offense and the Eagles’ defense appear to be a good match when it comes to third-down efficiency.
The Falcons have converted 45 percent (34 of 75) of their third downs, which ranks fourth in the NFL.
The Eagles’ defense, which will be under the direction of new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, have held teams to 29 percent (23 of 79) on third downs. Those numbers rank third in the league.
“They are very good on third down,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I think their front four is a reason for that. They do a great job with pass rush. I know their sack numbers aren’t where they’ve been in the past, but their pressures are right there.”
Ryan likely won’t have time to drive the ball down the field if the Falcons are in a lot of third-and-long situations.
“They force you to get the ball out of your hands probably before you are ready to do it,” Ryan said. “We’ll have to do a great job up front and on the outside to get the ball out quickly.”
The Falcons likely could counter the Eagles’ defensive-line rotations by using more of their no-huddle attack.
Philadelphia’s offense converts on 41 percent (36 of 87) of their third downs, which ranks 13th in the league.
Atlanta’s defense is holding teams to a 42 percent (30 of 72) conversion rate on third down, which is tied for 23rd in the league.
“Whoever wins that matchup will be the key to the game,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said.
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