On this week’s Access Vikings podcast, I was asked a very important question by a reader: Which team would I wager more tacos on in the other NFC playoff game, the Falcons or the Eagles?
It’s an interesting question, and one I had been thinking about before delicious tacos entered the equation. Basically, I’m conflicted between two notions.
There’s the part of me that’s inclined to think the Falcons have an overwhelming advantage at quarterback with 2016 MVP Matt Ryan facing backup Nick Foles, and that in the playoffs QB play becomes even more important than it is during the regular season.
And there’s the part of me that thinks the Falcons, who are three point favorites on the road at Philadelphia, are being given too much credit after a decent-but-not-great season while the Eagles are being overlooked because too much stock is being put in a single factor (Foles instead of Carson Wentz).
The Eagles, after all, finished fourth in the NFL in scoring defense. They have the home field advantage, where a fearsome pass rush should be swarming Ryan. And they still managed to A) Come back to beat the Rams after Wentz was injured and B) Win the next two meaningful games with Foles as the starter, including one in which he threw four touchdown passes.
Foles was terrible against Oakland in that second win, and his body of work over the last few seasons is uneven, to say the least. But just four years ago, he was Wentz. In his second year as a pro, Foles threw 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in helping the Eagles make the playoffs. He even played pretty well in a playoff loss to the Saints.
The Falcons were six-point underdogs at the Rams, and suddenly after one win over a jittery team they’re three-point favorites at Philadelphia? Sorry, but I just don’t think the Falcons are that good … or the Eagles are that bad. It feels like the narrative has shifted too far — that instead of people thinking it will be more difficult for the Eagles to win without Wentz, they’re now taking for granted that it will be impossible.
If I had to bet glorious tacos on one team in this game, it would be the Eagles.
If I’m right, of course, would mean the Vikings — if they won Sunday — would be on the road for the NFC title game. They would quite likely be favored in that game in Philly.
The last time the Vikings were road favorites at an NFC East team in an NFC title game, the final score was 41-0 in favor of the Giants. And overall since 2000, home underdogs are just 11-15 straight up in the playoffs.
I’d like the Vikings in that game, which isn’t a contradiction. The Eagles (at home) are better than the Falcons, and the Vikings are better than the Eagles.