The time has finally come Who Dat Nation! This Sunday, the Saints will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round with the winner advancing to play in the NFC Championship game. The last time these teams met, the Saints had a complete game in all three phases for a 48-7 rout of the Eagles. That was in Week 11 and a lot has changed since then. Now, Nick Foles is back at quarterback and was able to get them into the playoffs with a 3 game win streak and has really built up the confidence level of a team that was struggling.
Last week, the Eagles were able to escape from the Chicago Bears 16-15 thanks to a missed field goal by Cody Parkey. With the Saints having a bye week, they were able to get healthy and rested for whomever they had to face next. It really paid off as the entire team was a full participant in practice on Friday aside from Simmie Cobbs who was ruled out. On the other side, the Eagles have a few key players who are questionable for the game. Not to mention, injuries plagued them in that Week 11 loss as if they were just dropping like flies. But like I said before, things are different this time around.
This game has the potential to be like the last playoff game these teams had back in 2013 which the Saints won 26-24 on a Shayne Graham field goal as time expired. However, you have to look how both teams can excel in all three phases in order to come away with a victory. While watching the game against Chicago, I noticed how the Eagles used short routes to create quick throws in order to suppress the pressure from the Bears defense. I would anticipate they will use the same strategy early on to keep Foles upright most of the game. On the flip side, they were not able to run the football effectively all game and have struggled to do so all season. Former Saint Darren Sproles is finally back in the fold but the Eagles have practically used running back by committee since Jay Ajayi was put on injured reserve early in the season. If Philly wants to be able to stick around, this is the one aspect they have to get going early against the top ranked run defense in the league.
For the Saints, the offense struggled in the latter part of the season and we aren’t sure why it happened so suddenly. Ironically, once Ted Ginn Jr returned from injured reserve, the unit was able to look like their old selves and get back into rhythm. They have to be able to set the tone early, that being if they win the toss, they should receive and try to drive down the field and get a touchdown while controlling the clock. The main focus should be having a balanced attack and not get too aggressive early on. Defensively, they are on a whole different level, especially in the second half. The Saints will need to be aggressive enough to force Foles into some bad throws and hopefully get turnovers in the process. They cannot afford to have him sit in the pocket because he will tear you apart as well.
Like I said in my last article, the Who Dat Nation will the X-Factor in this game. The crowd noise has to be at the highest level possible to disrupt any and all momentum the Eagles may come in with. We know for a fact that our fans are up for the challenge and the Saints will be doing the same. This team has built such a bond and they always play for each other. The motivation by Sean Payton this past week was enough for me to go out there and put some pads and play for free because I want this just as bad as they do.
Interesting stat for Sunday’s Saints and Eagles game. This is the result of the last four matchups vs Jim Schwartz the Eagles defensive coordinator. 👀#GoSaints#HomeInTheDome
Thanks @jkatzenstein for this stat. pic.twitter.com/V9ZOD1L46W
— Scott Shanle (@scottshanle) January 11, 2019
Also, thanks to Scott Shanle for digging up this tidbit just in time for this game. Come Sunday, the Saints need to follow the words of their fearless leader, Sean Payton “Do Your Job and Prove Them Right”