I nearly fainted when I saw this (trust me, it’s not scary). Via ESPN, the Eagles are favored to dispose the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night.
Two and a half men points, is what the City of Brotherly Love is feeding their visitors, an under-dog’s treat. I’m scratching my head in disbelief, though. #WhatDoesVegasSee that I (and you), don’t?
Where do you stand? Despite my love for the midnight-green, I'm in the middle of the street.
Violated isn't the right word, but after skimming over ESPN’s opening betting lines, I didn’t expect Philadelphia to have a negative (-2.5) next to their name.
Welp, before I set another fan club ablaze, I’ll choose my words wisely. …
For the most part, they’re saying that the Saints don’t play well outdoors. Forget that. It’d be remiss of us not to recall where Brees quarterbacked in his early twenties: Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Like a few other elite quarterbacks in this postseason’s race, Brees will lead his team with hopes of hoisting the Super Bowl trophy again, something he’s not lifted since February 2010. With that motive within, the Saints' offense will attempt to outlast a prominent Philadelphia offense, led by a phenomenal sophomore quarterback who’s thrown 27 touchdown passes, along with two interceptions in 13 games. (No, not Jeff Garcia, he threw 10 TDs and 2 INTs in eight matches.)
The Big Easy’s 34-year-old quarterback threw over 5,000 yards for the fourth time in his 13-year career. Is he unstoppable? Only his offensive line can dictate that (sacked 37 times, most in career).
We believe that it’ll come down to the trenches. It’s imperative, that the Saints’ offensive line protects Brees from the Eagles’ 3-4 blitz packages. In three of New Orleans’ total losses, Brees was sacked 11 times, threw 4 interceptions, and lost two fumbles. He registered only one touchdown per losses to the Rams, Panthers and Seahawks.
The Eagles rank 29th in total defense, but aren’t terrible at pressuring opposing quarterbacks and wrapping up – as they recorded 37 sacks this season. Philadelphia ranks 3rd in the league in takeaways (31) and their turnover difference finished at a solid +12 (compared to the Saints, 0).
Offensive Lines vs. Defensive Fronts
Both defenses employ a 3-4 scheme and have numerous blitz packages on tap, any given down-and-distance. Bob Ryan has made a star out of end Cameron Jordan (12.5 sacks), and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton was everywhere on the field, racking up 125 tackles, 46 more than the next guy, strong safety Kenny Vaccaro.
The Eagles possess two beasts in former Texans veteran and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, and sophomore Mychal Kendricks. That dynamic duet combined for 233 tackles and 8 sacks in 2013, raising hell on third down situations. Opponents were 40.25 percent successful on third downs.
Due to the fact that the Eagles carry (or is it the other way around) the League’s rushing title champion LeSean McCoy, the Saints' defense couldn’t play it any overtly safer than stacking the box and forcing Foles to find Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson open against man-coverage. That’ll cut the Eagles’ time-of-possession if the Saints’ defense land success.
The Eagles aren’t as worried as when they’ve got possession, because Foles has a plethora of options. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek seem to have found their groove with their QB, and Jason Avant has emerged into a reliable target. If all else fails after a play-action handoff to McCoy, no problemo – the checkdown is a sweet deal - averaging 10.4 yards-per-reception.
Not So Fast:
Don’t worry Saints fans, I didn’t forget about your feature backs with soft hands. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles share 148 receptions and 1,117 yards between both of them. Those two workhorses can singlehandedly (two hands on the ball) cripple the Eagles’ front, as short completions past the line of scrimmage auto-baits safeties to creep up. After badgering the secondary enough times, Sean Payton will launch his missiles Marques Colston and/or Jimmy Graham on a time-based play, and Brees (per usual) should connect with them easier the Big Easy itself.
Last, but not least:
I’m not God so I’ve no idea who’ll win. I’ve two hypothesis though.
IF THE SAINTS WIN, 34 Saints, 31 Eagles
IF THE EAGLES WIN, 31 Eagles, 28 Saints
Aweeee-Stats: Sitting (if you can call it that) beside Brees in an echelon smaller than a studio in New York City are three future Hall of Fame gun-slingers: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. They are the key-holders of their franchise’s winning ways. Right now, they’re reviewing Nick Foles’ 2013 stat-sheet, in awe of his 9.1 yards per attempt – something that only Rodgers and Manning accomplished once in their NFL careers – 2011 and 2004, respectively.
Go Long, until next time.