Ryan grew up 32 miles outside Philadelphia in Exton, Pennsylvania, and attended Penn Charter High School. He was a big Donovan McNabb fan when McNabb was the quarterback of the Eagles.
"It's always good to go back and play there, for sure," Ryan said. "Obviously the family and friends, it's great to see them. But it doesn't matter where we go this time of the year. We're just excited to be going and just still have the opportunity to keep playing."
But Ryan certainly won't receive a warm reception from the Eagles or their fans. Ryan is 1-3 all time against the Eagles in Philadelphia, completing 86 of 148 passes for 1,056 yards with eight touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 87. Last year's game there was arguably his worst of the season. He completed just 18 of 33 passes for 267 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and a season-low passing rating of 78.7 in a 24-15 loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ryan is 6-3 on the road this season following this past weekend's 26-13 wild-card win against the Los Angeles Rams. And his playoff road record is now 1-2.
For the Falcons to advance to the NFC Championship Game, Ryan will have to play at an MVP level against an Eagles defense that ranked in the top five in total defense (fourth), rushing defense (first), third-down percentage (third) and scoring (fourth). Ryan, who has put a renewed emphasis on footwork the past few years, has made plays with his feet the past two games and might have to do the same against the Eagles.
"He's a hell of a competitor, and those of you that know him know the nice guy you see through the media, but in between those white lines, he is a wolf," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "I love what he stands for as a competitor, and his teammates know that, too. I thought there's all sorts of examples, getting hit and bouncing back up, getting ready for the next one. He really showed that kind of toughness to his teammates."