Eagles and Falcons flutter

Coming into the season the Philadelphia Eagles were a huge favourite to win the NFC East.

Thus far Philly has not looked anywhere near that dominant as the side sits 7-4 in second in the division.

Offensively the Eagles hold their own with 292 points scored (fourth in the NFC) and rank in the top ten in points scored per game (26.6).

Donovan McNabb has not lost a step as he boasts 2189 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. He has spread the glory among three main targets in DeSean Jackson (six TDs), Brent Celek (five TDs) and Jeremy Maclin (four TDs).

However the defense has had its lapses in its losses to New Orleans (allowing 48 points), San Diego (giving up 31 points) and Dallas (surrendering 20 points).

With playmakers Brian Westbrook and Jackson being sidelined the Eagles are in a precarious state coming into Sunday.

Then again their 1pm Fox opponents, the 6-5 Atlanta Falcons, are also struggling to stay airborne.

Quarterback of the future Matt Ryan is out with turf toe and chief runner Michael Turner is suffering with a number of ankle sprains.

Aside from injuries Atlanta has been surprisingly mediocre with stats that put them in the middle of the pack offensively and in the bottom half of the league defensively.

Both clubs need to win to keep their place in the NFC playoff picture. For the Falcons it’s especially important as a loss will surely see Green Bay take their spot.

In spite of their lapses the Philly defense is the key in this game. With a new play-caller in Redman for Atlanta the factors are there for a blitz-heavy affair and lots of pressure from the likes of Trent Cole and Quintin Mikell.

Atlanta meanwhile looks outmatched as McNabb is as accurate and mobile as ever. The only chance the Falcons pull off the upset is Roddy White and company burn Philly downfield.

Chances are that won’t happen as Philly should beat down Atlanta 34-20.

Two teams fighting to keep ahead of Philly in the NFC East are the 8-3 Dallas Cowboys and the 6-5 New York Giants.

Dallas is riding a stingy D that has allowed the fewest points in the NFC (182) and puts them second in points allowed per game (16.5) in the league.

DeMarcus Ware (eight sacks) and Keith Brooking (82 tackles) have been to the defense this season.

Meanwhile New York is a shadow of the team that started the season with five straight wins. With injuries on both offense (Eli Manning) and defense (Antonio Pierce) the Giants haven’t outworked their opponents in awhile.

To this reporter the run game will be critical. Dallas has a vaunted three-headed run game behind Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

That trio can easily eat up 150 yards on the ground if not more matched against a D that coughs up 107.8 rush yards per game.

Once that happens things can open up downfield and allow Tony Romo to work his magic to guys like Miles Austin.

New York barely beat Dallas early on at full strength and another win looks unlikely as a 24-12 score should favour Dallas.