Tonight we see the most intriguing match-up of the week on NBC Sunday Night Football (8:20 pm ET) as the Atlanta Falcons welcome home Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles to try and determine which team belongs in the discussion as one of the top teams in the NFC.
Without a doubt the biggest story line for Sunday's game is Michael Vick, who will return to the Georgia Dome for the first time as a starter since his unceremonious exit from the Falcons following the 2006 season. While Vick has been back once since becoming a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, it remains to be seen how the home crowd will react to him. While the organization has moved on and had success with Matt Ryan under center there's still a very definite group of fans who still hold Vick in high regard. I think it's safe to say we'll still see a fair share of Michael Vick Falcon jerseys in the stands on Sunday night.
Both teams have been bitten with the injury bug as Atlanta will be without starting center Todd McClure and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, while Philadelphia could be without cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who is currently listed as 'questionable'. It's hard to know which of these players means the most to their respective teams, but I'm leaning towards Jonathan Babineaux who would have been a huge benefit to helping contain Vick.
For Atlanta the key to the game will be to stop the Eagles' big play ability. This means both keeping Michael Vick from getting big gains through the air and with his feet, while also keeping LeSean McCoy in check. As McCoy showed last week vs St. Louis he can break a big run on any occasion. His 49 yard run last week was the highlight of a game filled with great running as he finished the game with a 8.1 YPC average.
Meanwhile for Philadelphia it will be vital that they don't overlook the Falcons Sunday night. Atlanta's game against Chicago last week is by no way indicative of their skill, and if the Eagles move forward thinking any less of the Falcons then they could very well be setting themselves up for a loss on the national stage. Furthermore, they'll need their offensive line to step up and protect Vick who they allowed to be hit an inordinate amount of times against the Rams. They will see two very talented defensive ends in John Abraham and Ray Edwards, and will be in for a definite test.