(Sports Network) – A hint of quarterback drama will be in the air on both sides of Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles play host to the Atlanta Falcons in a battle of two of the NFC’s top teams thus far in 2010.
For the homestanding Eagles, the man behind center is currently a mystery. Starter and ex-Falcon Michael Vick missed last week’s 27-24 win at the San Francisco 49ers with rib injuries, but told reporters on Wednesday that it was still possible that he could play against his former team.
If he can’t, the job would again go to demoted opening-day starter Kevin Kolb, who played generally well in the road win last Sunday night, completing 21- of-31 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown to shake off a rough effort, in relief of Vick, against Washington the week before.
The identity of the Atlanta starting QB will not be a mystery on Sunday, but the Falcons’ Matt Ryan will be under intense scrutiny nonetheless.
Ryan, a native of the Philadelphia suburb of Exton who attended high school at Penn Charter in Philly, will be taking a second crack at an NFL win in his hometown.
Ryan opened a 27-14 loss at the Linc on Oct. 26, 2008, with the then-rookie throwing for 277 yards and two touchdowns but also firing two interceptions in the defeat.
The former first-rounder has come a long way since, and has the first-place Falcons on the brink of their first five-game winning streak in a single season since 1998, when Atlanta won 11 in a row en route to their lone Super Bowl appearance.
The Falcons extended their win streak to four with last week’s 20-10 win at Cleveland, which handed Atlanta its first victory at the Browns since 1971.
On a grind-it-out sort of day, it was running back Michael Turner (19 carries, 140 yards) moving the chains, wideout Roddy White (5 receptions, 101 yards including a 45-yard touchdown catch) adding value through the air, and Ryan (16-of-28, 187 yards, 1 TD) continuing his recent run of efficiency.
The Falcons defense forced exactly three turnovers for the fourth consecutive game, including a 41-yard interception return by defensive end Kroy Biermann that sealed the game in the fourth-quarter. The unit also held emerging Browns running back Peyton Hillis, who had logged back-to-back 100-yard days, to just 28 yards on 10 carries.
The victory was enough to keep Atlanta (4-1) a half-game up on surprising Tampa Bay (3-1) in the NFC South, with New Orleans (3-2) falling a full game back with their stunning loss in Arizona.
Technically, the four-game winning streak is the Falcons longest since 2003-04, when the Falcons won six straight. Atlanta finished the ’03 season with a couple of wins in a row under interim head coach Wade Phillips, before winning its first four under Jim Mora in 2004.