The New Orleans Saints come into this game without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, who retired in the off-season. They don’t have Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara, who is injured. They don’t have Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas, who is out for the season because an injury. and injured. Their starting quarterback Jameis Winston is on IR because of a serious leg injury. These were the weapons that the offense of the Saints was built on for years. These are and were great football players, Pro Bowlers year after year, but they’re not available now.
I know that Sean Payton and the Saints organization are really disappointed that none of the Brees, Kamara and Thomas-led football teams were able to win a Super Bowl title because they were very good. Brees and Payton won one, but it wasn’t with Kamara and Thomas. These great players are not available right now, so head coach Payton is going to have to come up with creative answers offensively in order to manufacture points for New Orleans. He’s going to have to run some gimmick plays or take advantage of some of the Eagles defensive weaknesses. They’re going to have to be able to attack the young linebackers of the Eagles with play action passes. They’re going to need to put Trevor Siemian in position to make throws downfield despite the fact that the entire Saints offense lacks big-time talent right now.
Payton is capable of manufacturing offense with his creative mind, but the New Orleans Saints offense cannot afford to make any mistakes or make many mistakes. They need a flawless game in order to beat the Eagles. The Birds have more weapons on their offense than the Saints, so they need make that evident on the scoreboard. The Birds defense has a chance to dominate this game, if they can prevent success on gimmick plays by Payton.
Mark Ingram will take the place of Kamara and he isn’t as explosive, now is he as effective as a pass catcher. Wide Marquez Calloway is a number two or three wide receiver, but he’s not a number one. The Broncos offensive line is missing a couple of starters because of injuries.
I think Birds defense has got to dominate with their defensive tackles, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. These two big athletic defenders must win their battles upfront and get in Simiean’s face consistently. They need to trouble him and they’ve got to help force some turnovers. If the Eagles can force turnovers, this is a game they will win. They’ve got to outplay the News Orleans defense, which has a tough job ahead of them because of their talent-challenged offense.
The NFC Defensive Player of the Week, Darius Slay, along with nickel back Avonte Maddox and the rest of the Eagles secondary will get their hands on footballs, but they must come down with them. I think the Saints will attack cornerback Steve Nelson because I think he’s the weak link in the Birds secondary. Nelson doesn’t have the speed to run with some of the New Orleans receives, so I expect Siemian to take some shots at him during the game.
The Saints are going to be playing hard and I know they’ve got a very tough defense. The New Orleans defense goes into this game knowing that they must force two or three turnovers in order to aid their talent-needy offense or they’re in jeopardy of losing their third game in a row. The Eagles defense has got to come in with that same mentality. They must have a feverish intention to be going after the football when it’s in the air and when it’s being carried by a ball carrier.
We need to see a lot of Eagles linebackers TJ Edwards and Damien Taylor because I’m sure Payton is going to attack them with their running backs, tight ends and wide receivers when the Eagles are playing zone coverages. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see lightning quick wide receiver Damien Harris in the backfield at times. They’re also going to be working the ball to him in the slot. You will see that when he’s in the game I think he’s getting the football because I was listening to Payton talk about how he’s got to make sure to not use Harris too much. He was talking about cutting down his plays, which meant to me not having him on the field as much, but getting the ball to him when he’s in the game.
I also could see the Saints utilizing backup tight Juwan Johnson is key passing situations because he’s got good speed for a tight end. He has only 9 catches, but three of them have been for touchdowns.
I think this is going to be a tight game. I think it’s going be a very good game and the winner of the game is probably going to be a playoff team. This is a great experience for this young Eagles team. A young quarterback like Hurts is going to learn a great deal in this battle against an experienced Saints defense. The Eagles defense has worked very hard to tighten up their run and pass defense. They are not at the point where they are confident, aggressive and expecting to force turnovers in each game. They know a good game will put them in position to continue the march to the playoffs. I think they can smell it.