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Nick Foles was steady Minkah Fitzpatrick Color Rush Jersey , Jake Elliott had a big leg and the defense made one final stop.

The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the NFC championship game following a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. They’ll host the Saints-Vikings winner next Sunday.

Despite going 13-3 to earn the No. 1 seed, the Eagles entered the game as 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seeded Falcons (11-7). They used it as motivation and now it’s onto the next one as they continue pursuit of the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

”If we believe the outsiders, we will be all messed up,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. ”We went out and proved we can be the real winning team.”

Matt Ryan’s final pass sailed through Julio Jones’ arms in the corner of the end zone as Jalen Mills had tight coverage on fourth down from the 2 to secure Philadelphia’s win. It was another disappointing finish for the Falcons, who blew a 25-point lead against the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.

”The reason I play this game is to win a championship,” Ryan said. ”That’s why we put all of the hard work we put in. When you don’t get that result, it’s difficult.”

Foles outplayed Ryan, bouncing back from a pair of subpar games with an efficient performance. He completed 77 percent of his passes (23 of 30) for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers.

”The biggest thing in our locker room is that we believe in one another and that showed,” Foles said. ”We kept working, kept grinding, had faith in one another. In any sport there’s going to be criticism. You’re aware of it because you’re human but we blocked it out.”

Here’s some things we learned following Philadelphia’s first playoff win in nine years:

OVERCOMING TURNOVERS: The Eagles committed the only two turnovers and won anyway. Jay Ajayi fumbled on the second play from scrimmage inside Falcons territory and a short punt bounced off an Eagles player setting up Atlanta’s 18-yard touchdown drive.

INCONSISTENT OFFENSE: These weren’t the Falcons who lit up the scoreboard on their way to winning the NFC championship last year. Under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons weren’t quite as sharp throughout the season and their inconsistency showed up at the wrong time. They were shut out in the second half and held to just 118 yards in the final two quarters.

”I think that’s something we have to look at and evaluate this offseason,” Ryan said. ”There were too many times we were a little bit inconsistent.”

JAY TRAIN: Ajayi shook off the fumble and ran well until he inexplicably went to the bench for a long stretch. Ajayi had 50 yards rushing on eight carries through Philadelphia’s first drive of the second quarter, but didn’t get the ball again until the second half. He finished with 54 yards on 15 carries and also dropped a third down pass. He did have 44 yards receiving on three catches.

”I feel like I played poorly,” Ajayi said. ”The fumble, can’t do that in a big game. I feel like I could have executed a lot better. A lot of the teammates picked up the slack. The defense played lights out.”

CALL OF THE GAME: Eagles coach Doug Pederson ran an inside counter to wide receiver Nelson Agholor that went for 21 yards to the Falcons 3 on third-and-3 on Philadelphia’s touchdown drive. It was the first time he called that play this season.

”It’s a play we’ve had in our arsenal, but never got to it,” Pederson said. ”This was just an opportunity to put it in Nelson’s hands with Lane Johnson as a puller and just executed extremely well.”

JAKE’S LEG: Elliott, who joined the Eagles after Caleb Sturgis was injured in Week 1, bounced back after missing his fourth extra point of the season by connecting on all three of his field goals. His 53-yarder at the end of the first half was his sixth in seven tries from beyond 50. That includes a game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants in Week 3.

”It was definitely tricky out there, just really gusty (wind),” Elliott said. ”You don’t know what it’s really going to do out there so you just have to hit the best ball you can and take care of what you can control.”



AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.



AP NFL website: A new daily fantasy sports game that lets users hone in on a single NFL playoff game has some gambling experts wondering if the contest inches the industry closer to the territory of sports betting that remains illegal in most of the United States.

The ”Showdown” variant offered by leading fantasy sports company DraftKings allows users to pick six athletes from two teams playing against each other in a real-life football game, racking up fantasy points based on stats like touchdowns Mike Hughes Color Rush Jersey , receptions and yards passing, rushing or receiving. That means users playing ”Showdown” this weekend can wager on performances in the Jaguars-Steelers game Sunday without having to wait for the Saints-Vikings game to play out several hours later.

The 2006 federal law that effectively banned online gambling but gave rise to daily fantasy sports requires daily fantasy contests to be based on the performances of athletes in ”multiple real-world” sporting events – not just single games. That detail is leading some advocates to question how DraftKings and regulators operate.

”This new game continues the industry trend of trying to get as close as possible to single game betting,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, which is neutral on legalized gambling but pushes for strong regulations and consumer protections.

Whyte said the games ”further blur the largely fictional line between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.”

DraftKings says the federal law – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – only applies if there’s an underlying violation of state gambling statutes first, and, so far, no state has objected to the competition.

State laws vary widely, but policymakers in 18 states responded to the industry’s popularity by legalizing and regulating daily fantasy sports. Many of those regulations were developed with heavy lobbying from DraftKings and other industry leaders. Daily fantasy companies largely avoid another 10 states where laws are worded in ways that make it more difficult to operate.

”This act is basically irrelevant. Everything defaults to state law now,” said Anthony Cabot, the company’s outside legal counsel, referring to the federal law that the industry has long cited for justifying its existence. ”If it’s not in violation of state law, then there’s no violation of the federal act. It’s a big red herring.”

The Boston-based company has also offered contests for other one-off events like NASCAR races and golf tournaments since 2015, without any complaints from regulators, he added.

Daniel Etna, a New York sports lawyer who closely follows the sports gambling industry, said the game appears to comply with most if not all new state laws approved in recent years to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports.

”Contests like these push the very fine line between fantasy sports contests and general sports wagering,” said Jay McDaniel, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. ”It does, however, fall within our law’s definition of a fantasy contest.”

In New York, the state Gaming Commission determined in December that the contest was legal because it’s based off how individual players perform in the game, and not the ”score, point spread or team’s performance Marcus Davenport Color Rush Jersey ,” said commission spokesman Brad Maione.

One key is that ”Showdown” requires users to pick at least one player from each team in a single game. So fans choosing from the Titans-Patriots game on Saturday can’t just stack their lineup with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and other New England stars without any Tennessee players.

Jeffrey Ifrah, a Washington-based attorney specializing in online gambling, isn’t convinced there’s much appetite to enforce the laws, even if there was a conflict. Many of the new fantasy sports laws don’t even require states to approve new contests.

”None of these states really thought about this,” he said. ”They were given these laws to pass and they did it. There wasn’t a lot of legislative debate.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is also weighing a bid by New Jersey to overturn the sports betting ban in effect in all but four states (Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon). A favorable ruling this year could make handwringing over daily fantasy sports moot.

”We would only look into a particular game if we received a complaint about it, which we have not in this case,” said Edward Grewach, general counsel for the Missouri Gaming Commission.

”We do not require review of every new game, so no, we have not looked into it,” said Elaine Lidholm, a spokeswoman for Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the industry.

The single-game format could have implications beyond the early rounds of the NFL playoffs, where eight teams play in each of the first two weeks and four teams play during the conference championships. DraftKing’s chief rival, New York-based FanDuel, says it has ”exciting plans” for the Super Bowl, the most gambled on single game in the world.

If successful during the NFL playoffs, variants like ”Showdown” could extend into the regular season next year and even potentially be offered for single games in other sports.



Follow Philip Marcelo at


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