Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming.
A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff Saturday. Ryan Anton Stralman Jersey , who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc.
”I’m used to it now,” Ryan said about returning home. ”Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice.”
Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta’s 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
”Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we’ll take, what went well and what didn’t go well and try to improve on that,” Ryan said. ”We’re a different team than we were last year when we played them and they’re a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different.”
Here’s some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia’s win over Michael Vick’s Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game:
NICK’S UP: Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He’s certainly a drop-off from Wentz, but he’s also capable of spectacular performances. Foles once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15.
”There’s enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence,” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.
`NORTHEAST’ NOISE: There’s crowd noise, and then there’s the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week’s wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams.
”I’m not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast,” Quinn said with a smile.
The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals.
”That’s huge,” said tight end Levine Toilolo. ”That’s where it all starts, coming off the ball, the cadence and stuff like that. We definitely work on that every week. Their fans, we’re expecting a loud crowd in a big playoff game.”
Mack said he expects Philadelphia’s fans ”to be really dedicated, really loud, really involved. So it’s going to be a challenge just in terms of crowd noise.”
COMFORT ZONE: After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons finished the regular season 15th with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game, down from 33.8 last season.
Ryan says he has become more comfortable with Sarkisian, especially the last two weeks in wins over Carolina and the Rams.
”I think Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks I think he’s done a great job,” Ryan said.
STOPPING JULIO: The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win last year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. Jalen Mills held him to four catches for 48 yards when he was matched up against Jones. The second-year pro is confident he can contain Jones again. Ronald Darby will have to cover Jones when he’s on his side.
”You have to think the ball is coming to him each and every play,” Mills said. ”Whether they’re having a run or a pass play, you’ve just got to think the ball is coming to him.”
MULTIPLE BACKS: Both teams have options in the backfield. The Falcons are led by Devonta Freeman Womens Brayden Point Jersey , who had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. Tevin Coleman had 628 yards rushing and five TDs. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with the Dolphins and Eagles. He ran for 130 yards against Atlanta in Miami’s win on Oct. 15.
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.
AP NFL website: In an interleague matchup between two offensively challenged last-place teams, a pair of runs was plenty for the Miami Marlins against the light-hitting Baltimore Orioles.
Jose Urena became the latest pitcher to raise his win total and lower his ERA against the Orioles, pitching eight innings of three-hit ball in a 2-0 victory Friday night.
It was the eighth straight loss for the Orioles, their longest skid since July 2011. The Orioles have dropped 15 of 17 overall and 10 straight at home, scoring only 14 runs.
”We’ve got some people that we know are capable of a lot better just aren’t able to produce right now,” manager Buck Showalter said. ”There’s a lot of positive things being said before the game, and it just seems when we get into the game, we get back in that same situation we’ve been in many times.”
Urena (2-8) struck out four and walked one in his longest and most efficient outing of the season.
”He’s a strong kid, and honestly if we had a bigger lead I would’ve sent him back out,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”He could’ve finished that.”
Urena, who started for Miami on opening day, is 2-1 in June after an 0-7 start.
”That was pretty good,” he said of his 112-pitch performance. ”I tried to attack the batters in the zone. That was the plan.”
Kyle Barraclough worked a perfect ninth for his fifth save.
Lewis Brinson hit two triples for the Marlins, who have won four of five.
”We just keep scratching and clawing,” right fielder Brian Anderson said. ”Our pitching has been great.”
Baltimore’s only hit over the first six innings was a single by Corban Joseph, recalled from Double-A Bowie before the game. The Orioles rank last in the AL in runs and batting average, and the trend continued in their eighth shutout loss.
Kevin Gausman (3-6) opened the game by throwing six straight pitches out of the strike zone. He only gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, but it was two too many.
”Any runs our pitchers give up is magnified because we’re struggling so much to score,” Showalter said.
Gausman is 0-4 in six starts since May 11.
Miami went up 1-0 in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Anderson. In the sixth, JT Riddle hit a two-out single and Brinson delivered his second triple.
That was the extent of Miami’s offense. The Marlins came in tied for last in the NL in runs.
Now in his third season, Brinson hit two triples in his first 88 big league games before doubling that total in Game 89. He became the eighth Marlins player to hit two in game.
Orioles 1B Chris Davis has essentially been benched in the wake of a season-long slump.
Davis is batting .150 with four home runs, 15 RBIs and 86 strikeouts in 52 games. He hasn’t played since Monday, and there’s no telling when he will be back in the lineup.
”Chris is continuing with some things that he’s working on,” Showalter said.
PLENTY OF MOVES
Marlins: Reinstated RHP Brett Graves from the 60-day DL; transferred LHP Chris O’Grady to the 60-day DL; placed LHP Caleb Smith on the bereavement list; optioned RHP Ben Meyer to Triple-A New Orleans; and recalled RHP Merandy Gonzalez from Double-A Jacksonville.
Orioles: LHP Richard Bleier was placed on the DL and will likely require season-ending shoulder surgery. In addition, Baltimore recalled LHP Tanner Scott from Triple-A Norfolk; selected the contract of INF Corban Joseph from Double-A Bowie; optioned right-hander Yefry Ramirez to Norfolk; and designated lefty D.J. Snelten for assignment.
Marlins: 3B Miguel Rojas left in the sixth inning after a pitch hit him on the left hand and ricocheted to his face. … INF Garrett Cooper (wrist) is participating in all baseball activities and live batting practice. … LHP Chris O’Grady (shoulder) threw a bullpen Thursday.
Orioles: INF Tim Beckham (groin strain) began his rehab assignment at third base with Bowie, going 0 for 2 with a walk.
Marlins: Former Oriole Wei-Yin Chen (1-3, 6.13 ERA) makes his first appearance at Camden Yards since 2015 on Saturday afternoon. The lefty made his big league debut with Baltimore in 2012.
Orioles: Alex Cobb (2-8, 7.23) is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins.