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Mask-wearing Eagles revel in underdog status

Mask-wearing Eagles revel in underdog status

The Eagles are the first team in National Football League history to be the underdog as the one seed versus the six seed.

If the Eagles win, it will be because of him.

But with backup Nick Foles at the controls, the Eagles are 3-point home underdogs to Atlanta. The Falcons utilize a two-back attack that actually works and is led by Devonte Freeman with speedy Tevin Coleman being an elusive big play threat. Doug Pederson has used the fact that Vegas has made this team an underdog as bulletin board material all week at practice.

The first two Eagles' drives produced 26 yards from scrimmage, three first downs, two on interference calls and a 3.2 yards per play average. Jake Elliott missed the extra point which left the score 6-3 with 10 minutes to go in the first half.

Atlanta answered back after an Eagles special team blunder tossed away an opportunity. Ajayi sat out the final game of the regular season to rest and get ready for a heavy workload in the playoffs. They generated just four takeaways during the first seven games of the season but have forced 14 turnovers in the 10 games since. They went from No. 1 in scoring at 33.8 points per game to 15th at 22.1. He was a first-team All-ACC selection for Florida State during the 2013 national championship season.

The Vikings have changed their look since then, too, with quarterback Case Keenum taking over, but two constants are their No. 1-ranked defense and 9-2 ATS record over their last 11 games. The closer it becomes to game time, the more layers that you will need on if you are tailgating outside, falling quickly through the 40s and 30s. Pressing so much and anxious about so many things. "When I play my best and I'm most comfortable, I just go out there and play".

What's going to help Foles stay on his feet and have time to find receivers downfield is consistency in the running game. Look for him to be targeted early and often as his redemption season continues. Relying on quarterback Blake Bortles to perform miracles is a likely non-starter. Moments like what the 2001 Sixers experienced when nobody gave them a chance to win a single game against the Lakers.

Titans-PATRIOTS (Over 47½): The over is 6-0 in New England's past six divisional playoff games, 7-1 in its past eight playoff games overall and 7-1-1 in its past nine Saturday games.

That lead didn't last long after another Eagles' miscue, this time when a short punt hit Bryan Braman, who was blocking on the play. The Eagles crowd has a pretty big impact on how they play at home, the noise fuels them.

The Eagles will be playing with a chip on their shoulders.

It was the first playoff win for Philadelphia since the 2008 season, and they will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title next Sunday. I expect an aggressive approach on defense and a ground and pound effort on offense. But the Eagles have received a large amount of disrespect from the media leading up to Saturday's game, so needless to say, the Eagles will be more than energized to prove why they are the number one seed.

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