2011 Record: 10-6, 2nd In NFC South
Overall Series Record: 17-12-1
Home Record Vs. Atlanta: 9-5-1
Last Meeting: Sept. 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Falcons 35-31
Game Recap: Michael Vick returned to Atlanta for the first time as the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles led by 10 in the fourth quarter thanks to Vick, but he suffered a concussion and did not finish. The Falcons rallied from behind thanks to Matt Ryan's fourth touchdown toss of the game - a 1-yard dart to OVie Mughelli - and a 61-yard run by Michael Turner which eventually led to a 3-yard Turner touchdown run. Turner finished with 114 yards and tight end Tony Gonzalez had a pair of touchdowns in the Falcons win. Mike Kafka led the Eagles into Falcons territory on a potential game-winning drive, but his fourth-down pass attempt to Jeremy Maclin was dropped.
Key Offseason Moves
In: DE John Abraham, DE Kroy Biermann, S Thomas DeCoud, WR Harry Douglas, G Vince Manuwai, C Todd McClure, CB Brent Grimes, RB Jason Snelling, LB Lofa Tatupu, CB Asante Samuel, C/G Peter Konz, S Chris Hope
Out: LB Curtis Lofton, WR Eric Weems, FB Ovie Mughelli
DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel had some classic battles in practices over the past few years. Now, they'll take it to the field in a regular season game.
Jackson and Michael Vick will look to finish what they previously started against the Falcons while trying to help keep Andy Reid's post-bye record perfect.
For Vick, who was the No. 1 overall pick of the Falcons in 2001, he returned to Atlanta last year for the first time as the starting quarterback of an opposing team. Vick was received warmly by the Falcons fans, many of whom still sport his No. 7 jersey. Vick guided the Eagles to a fourth-quarter lead before suffering a concussion as his helmet was whipped into the helmet of offensive tackle Todd Herremans. Vick was in the Eagles locker room as they squandered the lead and lost by four.
Jackson enjoyed one of the best games of his career the last time Atlanta visited Philadelphia. Jackson had 78 yards rushing and receiving and two touchdowns before he was leveled in a nasty, dirty hit by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson.
The Eagles will welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Lincoln Financial Field and Vick and Jackson hope to finish what both of them started in previous meetings.
The Falcons, meanwhile, are an enigma of sorts.
In head coach Mike Smith's four-year tenure, the Falcons have experienced a golden age of sorts. The Falcons have had four straight winning seasons, including three playoff appearances and two division titles.
However, the Falcons have no playoff wins to show for their recent string of success. Last year, they were unceremoniously dumped from the postseason by the Giants in a 24-2 (yes, two) thrashing. There are some changes on the coaching front for 2012. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey took the reins in Jacksonville and Mike Nolan takes over the defense from Brian VanGorder.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff has built a solid nucleus with Matt Ryan at quarterback and his top targets Roddy White and Julio Jones at receiver and future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is looking to finish off his career with a Super Bowl. Plus, you add Michael Turner and Jason Snelling in the backfield. It will be interesting to see whether the Falcons turn into a more vertical attack team in 2012 with their weapons instead of a ball-control, smashmouth offense.
The Falcons, defensively, are very athletic, but their pass rush will be a concern is recently re-signed John Abraham shows his age (34 by the time the season starts). At linebacker, the Falcons lost their best playmaker in Curtis Lofton, but have Stephen Nicholas and Lofa Tatupu in the fold to try and fill his role.
At cornerback, Samuel, who was traded to Atlanta prior to the draft, will pair up with Brent Grimes to form a strong tandem. If the Falcons can shore up the defense, they should once again be in position to get Smith yet another appearance in the postseason.