In a scheduling quirk, the Falcons have played the Eagles, members of the NFC East, in each of the past four seasons.
The Falcons, who are 1-3 in those games, will host the Eagles at 8:20 p.m. Sunday in the regular-season home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Last season, the Falcons opened the season in the City of Brotherly Love on a Thursday night and lost 18-12.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Falcons were defeated 15-10 on Jan. 13, 2018.
On Nov. 11, 2016, the Falcons lost 24-15. The Falcons won the last meeting in Atlanta, 26-24 on Sept. 14, 2015 at the Georgia Dome.
The common thread in those meetings has been the play of the Eagles’ defensive front led by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, one of the best players in the National Football League.
Cox, a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, is a disruptive force.
“Inside, he's the one that sets it and has inside,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “When you can command a double (team), and if you're part of the slide, other people get singled, and he's been a physical player for them inside for sure.”
Defensive ends Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham had strong showings in the Eagles’ 32-27 win over Washington on Sunday.
“Well, Barnett, we knew firsthand, outside, he's somebody that’s going to be a factor,” Quinn said. “Cox has always been a problem and somebody that, you know, we respect inside. ... For a long time, (he’s) been the real heart and soul of their front.”
Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is healthy again and lined up next to Cox against the Redskins.
“Philly has got a terrific front,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “They’ve got a good defense overall. They are very well-coached. We are just going to have to play better across the board. It’s not a matter of competing harder. We just have to execute better.”
Jernigan and Cox figure to be a load for the Falcons, who are set to start Jamon Brown at right guard in place of rookie Chris Lindstrom, who was placed on injured reserved with a fractured fifth metatarsal. Brown, center Alex Mack and left guard James Carpenter will attempt to keep Cox and Jernigan out of Matt Ryan’s face.
“But that’s also one of the reasons we brought the free-agent guards in,” Koetter said. “James Carpenter got off to a pretty decent start at left guard. Now, we’re going to need Jamon Brown to step in at right guard. Jamon has a lot experience in the league.”
The Eagles’ offense is led by quarterback Carson Wentz, who signed a lucrative four-year extension this offseason that could escalate to $166 million.
Running back Darren Sproles and tight end Zach Ertz are his top weapons to go along with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who went back to his former team as a free agent. The speedy Jackson caught touchdown passes for 51 and 53 yards in the win over Washington.
With those two scores, Jackson has 31 touchdowns of 50 yards or more in his NFL career. Only the legendary Jerry Rice has more, with 36.
“You know what, we’ve got a tough schedule,” defensive end/linebacker Vic Beasley said. “We have another big challenge for us this week.”
After giving up 172 yards rushing against the Vikings, the Falcons are expecting the Eagles, who rushed for 123 yards against Washington, to test their run defense.
Sproles rushed nine times for 47 yards, and Jordan Howard, who was acquired via a trade with the Bears in March, rushed six times for 44 yards against the Redskins.
“You can count on how Sproles is going to get it and how Ertz is going to get it,” Quinn said. “But the new players, how do they add into it, that's always part of the fun of putting the new group together.”
In the matchup last season, the Falcons had linebacker DeVondre Campbell cover Ertz and he was held to five catches for 48 yards.
Overall, the Eagles lead the regular season series 17-13-1 and are 3-1 in the postseason against the Falcons.