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[FTB] Jan 11, 2018

NFL Top Matchups: A glance at the NFL Divisional Round

By Gracenote

Each week, we break down some of the most intriguing matchups in the NFL, giving you an inside edge when gauging the schedule and placing your weekend wagers.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5; 41.5)

The Atlanta Falcons are two wins away from a Super Bowl return - and the quest for a second consecutive appearance in the NFL title game continues Saturday against a host Philadelphia Eagles team playing without its biggest weapon as quarterback Carson Wentz is out for the season with a knee injury. But it isn't all doom and gloom for Philadelphia, which has a significant advantage in the turnover department.

Atlanta did a lot of things right this season but forcing turnovers has been an area of weakness for the Falcons, who were one of only four NFL teams to record single-digit fumble recoveries (eight) and interceptions (eight). Atlanta did well to take care of the ball during the regular season but will need to be better if it hopes to get back to the Super Bowl.

Perhaps the Falcons will learn a thing or two from the Eagles, who received plenty of attention for their terrific offence but were also a force on the defensive end of the football, ranking fourth in the league in total turnovers forced with 31 (19 interceptions, 12 recovered fumbles).

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5; 45.5)

Quarterback playoff experience is the focal point of Sunday's NFC divisional encounter between Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints and Case Keenum's Minnesota Vikings.

Brees will be making the 12th career post-season appearance in his 17th NFL season; Keenum will be making his first-ever playoff start. But third-down play is a major equalizer here, with the Vikings owning an edge.

New Orleans rode a solid running game to the fourth-highest scoring average in the league (28 ppg) - but at times struggled to score or extend drives.

New Orleans converted just 37.1 percent of its third-down opportunities, good for 20th overall. On the defensive end, the Saints allowed teams to make good on 41.5 percent of third-down chances (27th overall).

They'll face a Vikings unit that dominated third-down scenarios for nearly the entire season. Minnesota held foes to a 25.2-percent success rate on third downs - the best mark in the NFL.
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