The Philadelphia Eagles will be in the Superdome today to take on the New Orleans Saints in an NFC divisional round matchup. These teams have played once already this year in New Orleans. The Saints won 48-7. Now, this game went about perfect for the Saints, which is obviously why the margin was so wide, but a few things have changed since that game. Coming into this game the Eagles are winners of their last 4, which was the only option for them to get to this spot in the first place, as they struggled most of the year. Nick Foles had to take over once again for an injured Carson Wentz and they have not lost since. The Saints are basically winner of their last 3 games. In the week 17 game that they lost, they played very few starters for a limited amount of snaps. This shouldn’t really be looked at as being a “loss” in my book because they didn’t even use the players that they will use today.
The Eagles have clearly turned the corner and gotten over their long Super Bowl hangover. There was a lot of talk this year about this team lacking leadership and focus, which was really evident most of the season. However, with their backs against the wall, they have won every game they had to have and they are still alive. As I mentioned before, this first matchup went horribly for the Eagles. I think the biggest key to this game is how much different of an Eagles’ team/game plan will we see today. I think most of the loss was on the Eagles’ miscues in developing an appropriate plan. The first matchup was when they were working Golden Tate into the offense rather quickly.
This led them to stray away from their best receiver in Zach Ertz and that doesn’t typically go over well. That being said, the Saints have been one of the best teams in the league at defending the tight end, so maybe that was also a factor of him not being as involved as usual. After this thrashing, the Eagles actually worked Tate out of the rotation and focused more on their 2 TE grouping and started to win games. Last week, Tate was back as a real part of the offense and saw a lot more work than he previously had in terms of snaps. This was likely to force the Bears to play their worst defensive player more. Similarly, the Saints’ biggest defensive flaw is the slot corner. I think will will see similar work out of Tate this week and he will need to produce to move the ball better than they did in the last matchup.
The other major thing that I will be watching early on in this game is how the Eagles are trying to defend the stars. Last meeting, the Eagles forced touches away from Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. That sounds like a fantastic strategy, but this can only be done by double teaming them. When you dedicate that much to those players, the rest of the team is just wide open. We saw TreQuan Smith and Mark Ingram have monster games and blow the Eagles out.
I think there are 3 things that the Eagles can do today defensively based on that outcome and I have no idea which one the will choose. 1. Do the same thing and blame the other players big games on defensive execution. 2. Pick one of those 2 players to “focus” on and then have an extra defender so the ancillary players don’t have as much space. 3. Play the game completely different and play it straight up because the first time was horrible. They could try a combination of these, but I think one will be rather prevalent early on. The issue for the Eagles is that the personnel is not good enough to be expected to execute any of these strategies.
Pick and Prediction
This spread is -8 for the Saints, which is starting to get a little rich. Obviously their last game has inflated the line a little. I still have a hard time getting away from them here. The one unit that I can trust the most here is easily the Saints offense and I am very confident they can put up whatever it takes in this game. I’ll take the Saints here along with the over.