NFC Divisional Playoff: Can the Eagles upset the Saints in New Orleans?


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Overcoming numerous obstacles to reach the post season, the defending Super Bowl champions have been on the ropes for several weeks. After a three game winning streak to end the season which included games at the LA Rams and against the Texans, the Eagles entered the post season. After an indescribable win over the Bears last week, the Eagles face their toughest test yet, on the road against the Saints.

New Orleans comes in as the number one seed after a 13-3 regular season record, but are only 3-2 over their last five and haven't been dominating. Although they blew out the Eagles in the first meeting by 40 points, the Eagles are healthier (with the exception of quarterback Carson Wentz), playing much better and more confident.

Statistically, the teams were nearly identical in the regular season in points allowed, while the Saints held a decided advantage in scoring, ranked third compared to 18th for the Eagles. But as we know, the regular season stats can be thrown out the window. Momentum and experience play a big role in the playoffs.

Nick Foles brings a calming presence which seems to elevate every part of the team. Foles completed 72 percent of his passes for 288 yards per game in the regular season and has the uncanny ability to make the big play under the worst of conditions. Case in point was his fourth down completion to Golden Tate for a touchdown with a minute to play last week.

The game plan will likely to be ball control to keep Drew Brees off the field as much as possible. The problem with that is the Saints are one of the top teams against the run. Nevertheless, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles will get the opportunity to do so.

The stabilizing factor in the passing game is Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, who had 116 receptions for 1163 yards and eight touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery appears to have an excellent connection with Foles and had 65 catches for 843 yards and six touchdowns. Golden Tate made big plays against the Bears and has been a Saints' killer in the past.

Brees leads a high powered attack that averaged 30 points per game during the season. He completed 74 percent for nearly 4000 yards and 32 touchdowns and has only been sacked only 17 times. For the Eagles to try to contain this attack, they will need pressure from Fletcher Cox (10.5 sacks) and {{playerID-1234|Michael Bennett}} (9 sacks). Despite an improved secondary, Michael Thomas (125 receptions, 9 touchdowns) and Alvin Kamara out of the backfield could have a field day.

New Orleans will try to keep Brees out of third and long with Kamara and Mark Ingram, who combined for over 1500 yards and 4.6 per carry.  However, the Eagles have also been very stingy against the run this season.

The kicking game advantage goes to the Saints. Wil Lutz has hit 13-of-15 from beyond 40. The Eagles Jake Elliott has proven to have a big leg, but has been inconsistent with his accuracy.

New Orleans is extremely tough at home and should win, but never count out  this Eagles team. Should they get off to a fast start and maintain confidence throughout, they can hang with the Saints, much like they did with the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Expect a Saints win, but the Eagles can cover and don't be completely shocked if they stun the football world again.

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