New Orleans at Philadelphia (-2.5)

Note: Two years ago we introduced Passer Rating Differential trend charts at the bequest of NFL Films, which wanted to use this CHFF Quality Stat as a way to measure which teams are statistically peaking heading into the postseason. The PRD plotted below is the year-to-date number for each team each week of the season, not its individual performance in each week's game.

The 2013 Philadelphia Eagles re-proved one thing that you already knew: the NFL is all about the quarterbacks.

The Eagles were a disappointing 1-3 team and trending downward. Then Nick Foles took over the offense, and the response was immediate and dramatic.

The Eagles beat the Giants and Bucs handily, then Foles was injured against the Cowboys and missed the bulk of that game and the following week against the Giants – both losses!

Foles has started all eight games since – leading Philly to a 7-1 run down the stretch – and went on to become the highest-rated passer in the NFL (119.2).  He goes into the record books with the third-best single-season rating in history.

Put another way:

  • the Eagles were 9-1 when Foles ran the show (he did not start the Week 5 win over the Giants, but got the bulk of the work).
  • The Eagles were 1-5 with Michael Vick and Matt Barkley carrying the weight.

So Philly’s entire season must be put in the context of who they were with Foles and what they were without him.

The entire Nick Foles Effect can be seen in Philly’s Passer Rating Differential trend line: it bottomed out in Week 4, the 52-20 loss to the Broncos.

It immediately shot up when Foles took over the offense the following week. Back down when he was out, and right up back up with Foles running the offense over the second half of the year.

As a result, the Eagles enter the playoffs as the hottest team in football: the team with the longest, sustained upward PRD trend.

The Saints, meanwhile, have headed the opposite direction, losing three of their last five games. And here’s the worst part: all three of those losses were on the road.

The New Orleans story has been well told, of course: dominant at home, where they went 8-0 and averaged 34.0 PPG. They avearaged jus 17.8 PPG on the road, and went just 3-5.

Foles and the Eagles will have too much firepower at home.

Pick: Philadelphia 27, New Orleans 23