PHILADELPHIA, PA - It’ll be a battle of the birds in Atlanta, as the Philadelphia Eagles will fly south to meet the Falcons. It’s a great opportunity for both teams to get off on the right foot after disappointing 2020 campaigns.

2021 Season Opener Eagles Vs. Falcons

For Philly, all eyes will be on starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, who enters year 2 looking to lead an Eagles offense that had a lot of trouble last year. He will have some help with first-round receiver DeVonta Smith joining the receiving core, along with returning speedsters in Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins, the latter of which should see much more touches this season. With Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert as impact players and four of five starting linemen also returning, the Eagles' offense has the tools to be explosive. It all falls on the shoulders of their young quarterback to make it happen.

Defensively, the defensive line appears strong, with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Javon Hargrave being pass-rushing threats. The secondary still has veterans Rodney McLeod and Darius Slay but will welcome new faces in ex-Vikings safety Anthony Harris and former Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson. The real question marks come in the unproven linebacking core, as Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, and T.J. Edwards are far from household names.

As for the Falcons, their team is interesting, but similarly to the Eagles, it holds a lot of uncertainties. Matt Ryan is still a very good quarterback in the twilight of his career, and Mike Davis, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and first-round tight end Kyle Pitts give him a decent supporting cast. Defensively, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and linebacker Deion Jones are always an issue when healthy, but their secondary can definitely be exploited by the Eagles' deep speed.

I predict the Eagles will win this game but expect a tight one that comes down to the wire. Philly will likely run a lot of screens, and short passes to get their playmakers in space. The Eagles are more athletic than the Falcons, and I expect that to show in missed tackles and blown assignments. If Jalen Hurts can avoid turnovers and play smart, I think he can lead the Birds to a Week 1 victory.

Final Score: Eagles - 28 Falcons - 24

Sam Woloson - Sports Writer: Twitter: @WolosonSam | Instagram: @Sam_Woloson  

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