• August 16, 2022

Eagles-Saints Pregame Thoughts

NickFoles10How The Saints Can Beat The Eagles

The Saints are going to have to adjust to the cold weather quickly and get their high-powered offense rolling.

It’s going to have to start with the offensive line. The Saints’ line has been the one weakness in their offense, allowing 49 sacks in the regular season. Drew Brees isn’t the type of quarterback that excels at extending plays with his legs and making throws on the run. He’s at his best when he has a stable pocket around him. If the Saints are able to control the Eagles’ pass rushers, it will set Brees up to find his rhythm and pick apart the Philadelphia defense.

With the Eagles having some issues against opposing tight ends in recent weeks (allowing 12 catches for 135 yards to Jason Witten last Sunday), star tight end Jimmy Graham figures to play an important role in this one. Graham is in a league of his own when it comes to the tight end position. He’s turned in his best season yet, with 86 receptions for over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s a force unlike any other at the position, and he’s matchup nightmare for even the best defenses in the league.

The Eagles must also be aware of short passes out of the backfield to Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. The two running backs have combined for 148 receptions, and do most of their damage through the air.

Defensively, the Saints have been much improved from what they’ve been in the past. They were one of the worst in the league a year ago, but they’ve improved the fourth overall in points allowed (19.4), fourth in total yards (305), and 2nd against the pass (194.1).

Rob Ryan is a guy who loves to blitz and send pressure the quarterback’s way as often as he can. He’ll do his best to replicate the success that the Dallas Cowboys had last week in pressuring Nick Foles. The Cowboys were successful at slowing down the Eagle attack with their pass rush, and Ryan will try to take advantage with his own star pass rushers.

Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette have 12.5 and 12 sacks respectively. The Saints also have four other players with at least three sacks. They’ve got some powerful guys that can get after the quarterback. These guys are the going to be the key to slowing Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense down.

Why The Eagles Will Win

The Eagles have become a team that looks to run the ball first (hallelujah!) and the one thing that the New Orleans defense has struggled with has been their run coverage. Chip Kelly has not only been giving teams a heavy dose of LeSean McCoy, but he’s also been making an effort to mix in Bryce Brown and Chris Polk as well over the last few weeks.

McCoy has been sensational all year. Averaging over 5.1 yards a carry, he finished leading the NFL with 1,607 yards and also scored nine touchdowns. He’s the engine that makes the Eagles’ offense go, and as long as Kelly continues to make him the focal point of the attack, the rest of the offense is going to click.

The impact of Nick Foles can’t be underestimated either. Foles’ poise has served him well throughout his career so far. He’s had control of his emotions, and hasn’t let himself get too up or down based on the highs and lows he’s experienced. I think that poise will serve him will now as he enters his first post season game. He’s been so good at avoiding turnovers since taking over as the starter, and he knows when to throw the ball away or take  a sack.

But what I really believe gives the Eagles an offensive edge this week is Kelly himself. I don’t think the Eagles have really used their fast-paced offense as often in the second half of the year as they did early on. While they won’t be able to run it for an entire game, its a weapon that Kelly could choose to pull out at anytime he chooses.

The Eagle pass rush has got to have a better week than they did last week against the Cowboys. There was very little pressure put on Kyle Orton throughout the game. The Saints have a weaker offensive line, so the opportunity will be there for Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Trent Cole, and the other pass rushers to get to Brees and make an impact.

Brees can get a little careless with the football at times. While it isn’t a regular occurrence, he’s still had four multi-turnover games this year, which increases the importance of p

Final Thoughts

The Saints are a very tough draw for the Eagles in the first round.

This is a veteran team with an A-list quarterback that has plenty of playoff experience and a lot of their players even have a Super Bowl title under their belts.

However, the Eagles have one serious edge over the Saints that can’t be discounted: they’re the hot team right now. How many years in the NFL have we seen the team that comes together at the right time go on a run and take down teams with better talent? Right now, you could certainly make a case that the Eagles could be that team this year.

They finished the year with a decimation of a Chicago team that had playoff aspirations, and they went on the road and won a hard-fought battle for the division with Dallas with a number of key plays in big moments.

I don’t know how far this team is going to be able to go in the playoffs, but I don’t believe that this is going to be a one-and-done ride. Chip Kelly has made a believer out of me with his creative play designs, week to week adjustments, and the confident attitude he’s brought to the team. Billy Davis has made a believer out of me with the dramatic improvement that his defense has shown in the second half, and the role they’ve played in winning close games.

Pick: Philadelphia 27, New Orleans 24

Denny Basens

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19 Comments

  • I think things are set up as well as they possibly can be for the birds.

    First up a Saints team that really struggles on the road, and especially in the cold.

    That’s followed by a team with a QB that needs to be babied and overly cajoled after every good play so as not to shatter his fragile psyche. Fox will be showing him sulking alone on the bench with that towel over his head all second half with Carolina losing.

    After that it’s a winner take all 50/50 shot in the NFC champ game.

    Best draw we could hope for.

    • We might even host the 49ers for the NFC title, first things first, take down the Saints. First one to 30 wins. I think eagles need Kendrick’s to play huge and the d to create a couple. Turn overs. The offence will take care of itself. Eagles 34-24

  • And this is why it was important to win that Bears Game, that I stated ,when many Posters said that game didn’t matter…

  • I don’t know who will announce this game, just so it’s not Collinsworth. he was getting on my last nerve last week whining about calls against Dallas. Why is is that the media just went on and on about Dallas during the game last week even though the Birds dominated. They don’t get national enough credit for what they are doing here.
    Anyhow, great article and summaries here. The Eagles are better than what their record indicates. They are a different team than early on and would be 11/5 or 12 and 4 at least had they been this well established the whole season. Give the Birds the Chiefs, Dallas, Min or SD now and they win. Min was a let down game.

    • Jim, I believe we’ll be getting Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth again on Saturday night. I don’t think they’re as anti Eagles as everyone says. I think at one point during the Dallas game, either Michaels or Collinsworth made a comment about how close the game was despite it seeming like it had been all Eagles.

      This is going to be a tall order for the Eagles but like Vinnie said above, things could not have fallen into place any better for the Eagles. Now they have to capitalize on this opportunity. I’m hoping the Saints’ road woes and cold weather continue to be a huge factor but I don’t think we can put too much stock into that. The Saints may be 3-5 on the road this year but three of those losses were to teams with a BYE this weekend (Patriots, Seahawks, and Panthers).

      The key to this game, IMO, is going to be the Eagles’ pass rush which was nonexistent against Dallas. I believe they have a rookie LT that we will need to take advantage of whereas Dallas had one of the best LTs in the game. I also think Shady will need another big night allowing us to keep Brees off the field and literally keep him cold.

      • The good thing is, is that the Saints do not have a stiut run defense. In this cold weather, the Eagles should pound them. Keep running the quick offense to wear their defense down. Being tired and cold, and being physically punished by the offensive line, ran all over the place by Shady, chasing Bryce Brown around, and getting pounded by Chris Polk should take some starch out of the saints D line. Then mix in some passes to the Desean, Riley, Brent and Zach. Weat that defense down, and keep Brees on the bench to think about that cold air setting in on him! After awhile the saintsshould be very disinterested in playing…..Go EAGLES!!!

        • I would like to see the Birds go after the Saints much the same way they did the Lions and Bears. Strong running game and a smart passing attack to keep them honest.
          I read an article yesterday that talked about the Eagles read-option attack. It said that the Eagles ran more read option plays than any team in the league (like 138 or something, I could be wrong). They had good success with like 7 or 8 yards per play or something. It also said that the Saints had seen very few run option plays all year (like 20 or 30 total) and that they did very poorly in defending the play. I believe that with the injury to their rookie safety Vacarro, that they will also have trouble defending our TE’s in pass routes. I believe that Rob Ryan is a smart defensive coach, but that Kelly is a smarter offensive coach with more weapons. I look for a strong running attack and a passing game to exploit the mismatch of our TE’s.
          In the end it will come down to our defense, and whether or not they can get a couple stops or even better, turnovers.
          Regardless, it will be a great game. The Birds are back in the playoffs with a home game!!

          GO BIRDS!!!!!!

  • I for one am worried about special teams..particularly the punt coverage..
    I think we have to limit the quick 3 n outs that give the Saints short fields
    Need a strong game from the punter as well as being disciplined to stay in lanes on the punts…

  • Very difficult game! HOF QB who hasn’t won a road playoff game… To me that’s a BAD thing. You know he wants that monkey off his back. Shady has to carry 20 times even if it’s 20 for 74 or something for the eagles to have a chance. Brees has me very concerned… A first time playoff qb vs a HOF SB winner…

  • Saints leading Rusher RB Pierre Thomas held out of Practice for the 2nd Day in a row due to a Chest Contusion/Injury and is currently listed as “Doubtful”
    RB’s Darren Sproles, who is still banged up with ankle/knee injuries will pick-up the slack in te passing game but most of the Rushing Duties will be handled
    by RB’s Mark Ingram and Kirhy Robinson (6-0 – 220lbs) who ha some hop and is a strong.low to the ground Runner.. I would not be surprised to see Robinson get more carriers than Igram or Sproles… Sproples has not been 100% since mid season, has knee/ankle issues, had concussion and is just not that explosive consistent back from years past.. Still very dangerous in the open field, but not in the game plan as much in past Seasons…
    Look for WR’s Kenny Still. Robert MEachem (Who always hurts the Eagles) and Marquise Colston see a lot of balls their way as the Eagles focus perhaps a little too much, on TE Jimmy Graham..,
    I am beginning to get a bad vibe about this game and hope the Eagles put away that Dallas/Bears Victories on the Back shelf for the Saints are the Best All-Around Team they have faced in a while who are highly motivated by Coach Payton and QB Brees to get a W on the Road in the Playoffs in Cold Weather….

  • *************** LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters named first-team All-Pro, Eagles ************

    • A well-deserved honor for Shady and the offensive lineman! Shady is the best and most important offensive player on the team.Our success in these playoffs we depend upon Shady and the offensive line domiinating the games.
      We need to run the ball!!

  • It’s not going to matter how much to run Shady if this sucker turns into shootout.

    What Billy Davis does on defense is really what matters – there are obvious pluses for the Eagles:

    1. Home
    2. Cold
    3. Don’t believe Saints have won a road playoff game

    But yeah..watching the cowboys game – they can’t let Brees have the time Orton had. He’ll pick this secondary a part.

    So Billy Davis and the defense FTW!

    • While the pass rush wasn’t great against Dallas, Orton was getting rid of the ball very quickly. Drew Brees will have to do the same because the Saints o-line is quite pedestrian.

      • He was getting rid of the ball quickly – but even when we were bringing pressure it wasn’t getting there. Saints O ain’t the best and that’s a definitely plus for us, but Brees does have a quick release so I don’t think he will be holding the ball forever.

    • He still needs to run in a shoot out…. You have to give your foundation time in the game… He has to carry the rock even if he isn’t gnashing them for huge gains. It is whT your offense I’d predicated on.

  • FEELS GREAT TO BE EXCITED ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN !!!!

  • Trent Cole must own Saints LT Terrance Armstead from the get go..
    If so, the Eagles Have a great chance of moving on.. If not , then it could be a long cold evening at the Linc
    The Saints (Coach Payton and QB Brees) and sick and tired about hearing how they can’t play in the outside elements or on the road in the Playoffs..
    There will be no stone untourned by HC Payton who will pull out all the stops in this game to get a Victory.. Brees realizes he has about 2-3 Years left of
    Playing and Coach Payton has been on a mission all year long to prove that he’s one the Best NFL Coach’s and a payback to the NFL for his 1 Year Suspension for the Bountry Scandal that occured in New Orleans…
    Chip Kelly and Billy Davis are going to have to have their Best Game Plans and the Eagles Players are going to have to be focused,physcial and execute at their highest levels .. I believe we will watch one of the most exciting,hard-fought games this Saturday evening and am pshyched
    Penalities, Turnovers, Negative Plays and the Kicking Game will be huge..
    Remember Saints canned their Kicker Harltey 2 weeks ago and replaced him with Veteran Shayne Graham.. Something to keep an eye on…

  • This game will be won in the trenches, look for Cole to have a huge game, this is a major mismatch, I also look for the eagle’s offensive line to play much better, and anticipating an overly aggressive defense from Ryan, the eagles will exploit this by peel off patterns to celek and north south gashing runs from play action by shady

    This will be a nail biter, relatively low scoring but exciting game

    Eagles 20, Saints 13

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