Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles -- Week 8

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (grass and artificial turf, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Spread: Eagles by 3.

Forecast: Windy with a 60 percent chance of showers, mid-50s.

Record: Falcons (Overall: 6-0; NFC South: 1-0); Eagles (Overall: 3-3; NFC East: 1-0)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Sept. 18, 2011: Falcons 35, Eagles 31; Oct. 17, 2010: Eagles 31, Falcons 17. Series record: Eagles hold 15-11-1 series edge.

What matters: Both teams are coming off bye weeks and should be adequately rested. The off week gave the Falcons an opportunity to address a few glaring issues, namely their tackling. Coach Mike Smith placed an emphasis on getting back to the fundamentals of properly wrapping up the ball carrier and limiting big gains. Opposing offenses have broken runs of at least 20-plus yards seven times against the Falcons, which is tied for the third-most in the NFL. The other unknown for Atlanta is how new Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will attempt to slow down Matt Ryan’s passing attack. Bowles was promoted from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator heading into the bye week, so the Falcons have never seen film of what type of coverages he likes.

Who matters: Running back Michael Turner voiced his displeasure with the team’s inability to run the ball after the comeback victory against Oakland on Oct. 14. In last season’s win over the Eagles, Turner rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Smith had better appease his veteran running back, who’s still capable of solid production, especially after Ryan threw three interceptions two weeks ago. … Speaking of Ryan, the league’s fourth-rated quarterback needs a bounce back game from his horrible showing against the Raiders. Ryan has now thrown at least one interception in his last four games after not having one turnover in the previous six games. … John Abraham is tied for ninth in the NFL with six sacks and is tied for second in the league with three forced fumbles. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s struggles with protecting the ball are well documented, so keep an eye out for Abraham coming off the right edge.

Key matchups: There are a ton of things in play for Sunday’s game against the Eagles. First of all, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy had two touchdowns on 95 yards last year against Atlanta, and the Falcons rush defense has been beyond suspect this season. The Falcons are among the worst in the league at stopping the run and have given up a rush of at least 29 yards in each game this season. Linebackers Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas (who was limited two weeks ago due to an ankle injury) and Akeem Dent are crucial to mitigating McCoy’s impact. Dent, filling in for Nicholas, played every defensive snap and finished with a career-high eight tackles. …The Falcons secondary will be tested against the Eagles because not only will it have to be aware of Vick’s scrambling ability but Philadelphia has three big-play receivers, not unlike the Falcons. Safety Thomas DeCoud (four interceptions) could have trouble with Eagles tight end Brent Celek, who, at 6-4, is four inches taller than the safety and has 25 catches for 357 yards this season.

Injuries of note: DT Corey Peters, who suffered a stress fracture in the offseason and hasn’t played this season, may be available to play Sunday and provide some relief to tackles Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry, and Vance Walker. Peters participated in practice this week but questions remain about his conditioning. If he doesn’t play, the Falcons have two more weeks before they’ll be forced to add him to the injured reserve list.

Inside stuff: It’s no secret that Asante Samuel, the Falcons’ boisterous defensive back, is excited to go back and play in front of the Eagles fans. “Oh, they better cheer for me,” Samuel, who spent four seasons in Philadelphia, said of the Eagles fans. “They’re going to cheer for me or we’re going to have a problem. All you fans, all I did for y’all. Deuce-Deuce here has got nothing but love for you,” he said. Samuel was traded this offseason to Atlanta for a seventh-round pick, and the Falcons plan on gleaning every bit of information out of him, which shouldn’t be hard, given how much he likes to talk.

“He can tell you about the receivers,” Smith said to Orlando Ledbetter. “He’s gone up against them all the time in one-on-ones. He can probably tell us about the defensive backs and he has. We’re going to try and get as much information as we can.”

Connections: Samuel was listed on the Falcons' official game release but, interestingly, Vick, who spent the first six years of his career with Atlanta, was not. A few Falcons players said that Vick against the Falcons is now just a sub-plot.

“Having played against the Eagles [with Vick] so many times, I don’t think it’s something that the guys in here talk about or even think about all that much,” Ryan said to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I think we are probably a little bit beyond that at this point, five years removed.”

Stat you should know: The Falcons have scored five touchdowns on possessions with four plays or fewer, the second-most in the NFL. Atlanta is hoping it doesn’t need yet another late-game comeback drive to win on Sunday.

Bulletin board quotes: Eagles coach Andy Reid agreed to trade Samuel this offseason because he thought the cornerback’s skills were diminishing. Samuel helped save the Falcons undefeated season two weeks ago with a fourth-quarter interception he returned for a touchdown. Following the game, he tweeted out two separate jabs at the Eagles coach. The first one referenced the firing of former Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and the second one referenced Reid’s comments.


Looking ahead: The Falcons host Dallas on Nov. 4, and the Eagles travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints.

Prediction: Falcons 27, Eagles 20

For more Falcons coverage, follow Mike Singer @CBSFalcons.