Our Eagles vs. Falcons predictions for Week 1 of the NFL season

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Our Eagles-Falcons predictions for Week 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles will begin the Nick Sirianni Era against the Falcons and new head coach Arthur Smith in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.

To the predictions:

Reuben Frank (0-0)

We’ve spent so much time this summer talking about Nick Sirianni, Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith, but the two main reasons I like the Eagles Sunday in Atlanta are their offensive and defensive lines. Those are the two biggest strengths of this Eagles team, and I think they have a significant edge on both sides of the line of scrimmage on Sunday. It’s been a long time since both lines were at full strength, but they are now, and as long as these units are healthy they’re going to give the Eagles a chance on Sundays. I’ve got the Nick Sirianni Era opening with a win.

Eagles 24, Falcons 23

Dave Zangaro (0-0)

There’s a lot of intrigue about this game because there are two new head coaches facing off. But we know way more about the Falcons than we do about the Eagles. The biggest advantage the Eagles have in this game is up front. The Eagles’ defensive line has a clear cut advantage against Atlanta’s O-line and the same could be said for the Eagles’ O-line against Atlanta’s front. If the Eagles control both lines of scrimmage, they have a good shot to begin the season with a win.

Of course, it might be close because of Matt Ryan. He’s a veteran quarterback and is still a very good player and he has some weapons on that side of the ball. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts enters Year 2 as much more of a question mark. But I still think the Eagles get this done.

Eagles 24, Falcons 20

Ray Didinger (0-0)

Nick Sirianni didn't show us much in the preseason. Jalen Hurts didn't play after the first quarter of the first game. The first-team offensive line hardly broke a sweat. The first-team defensive line watched its backups get run over. No one got too upset. It's the preseason after all.

This Sunday the shadow boxing stops, the bell rings and we can expect what, exactly? Darned if I know. The Falcons aren't a powerhouse — they won four games last season, same as the Eagles — but they have a veteran QB in Matt Ryan and a stud receiver in Calvin Ridley. We are still trying to figure out what the Eagles are. They are a mystery.

It is a shot in the dark but I'll take the Eagles. I think their defensive line which is strong and deep will beat up on Atlanta's O-line and put major heat on Ryan, who isn't known for his escape ability (41 sacks last season). Can't wait to see how Falcons head coach Arthur Smith uses rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

Eagles 27, Falcons 24

Barrett Brooks (0-0)

I haven't been this excited and yet perplexed about the unknown entering a season since my rookie year. So many new faces in the Eagles organization, yet a lot of the core players from the Super Bowl year. Veterans in key positions. For the most part, these are at the positions that make or break a team’s success. The trenches are where the game is won. This is is why I have such an optimistic feeling for the Birds this year! They have a top five O-line and a top 10 D-line. Both are solid and deep.

Head coach Nick Sirianni will likely lean on the trench schematically in play selection and harness those leadership qualities to dictate balance on and off the field.

So for Week 1’s prediction, I have to go with a tight Eagles victory to start off this 2021 season. The O-line and D-line for this team are healthy and extremely good. They are just better than the Falcons in the trenches.

Eagles 28, Falcons 24

Mike Mulhern (0-0)

After barely playing his starters in the preseason, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from Nick Sirianni’s Eagles in the opener. Jalen Hurts has taken the reins as quarterback and franchise leader with ease this summer. Now comes the hard part. He threw a grand total of seven preseason passes but by all accounts, showed improvements in his game throughout camp. I think he has the mindset, skillset and support system to succeed. And perhaps most importantly on Sunday, the right opponent. He’s facing a Falcons defense that surrendered nearly 400 yards per game last season and didn’t do much to address those issues. Veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees will surely try to scheme up ways to give Hurts fits, but I’m not sure he’s got the chess pieces to have success.

Additionally, I can’t remember a time when the Eagles were this healthy. It probably predates Carson Wentz’s ACL tear in 2017. They certainly lack depth but if their starters are suiting up, this team is more talented than the Falcons, especially in the trenches. They’ll have a hard time containing both Calvin Ridley AND Kyle Pitts, but if they can just limit one and get to Matt Ryan, I see a comfortable path to victory.

Eagles 28, Falcons 20

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