December 11, 2020
Depending on who you ask, the result of Sunday's game between the Eagles and Saints might not matter all that much. To the Saints and their fans, it matters a great deal, with them hoping to maintain their one-game lead over the Packers for first place in the NFC.
For Philly, however, it's a much different scenario.
With Jalen Hurts making his first NFL start, that's where the focus is going to be. How well does he play? Does the offense look better or worse than it did with Wentz? Could he prove himself to be the future of the franchise, or will it become clear that the team will turn back to Carson Wentz, if not this season then next?
An upset win over the Saints, a team that has haunted the Eagles in recent years, would be a nice feeling, but it would almost immediately be replaced by the realization that such a win will hurt the Eagles in draft position. And at 3-8-1 on the season, let's be honest, that's all there's really left to play for.
Still, let's take a look at what the local and national media have to say about Sunday's matchup against New Orleans, a game in which the Eagles enter as 6.5-point underdogs, according to TheLines.com. And if you're one of those fans hoping for draft position over an ultimately hollow victory, then this post is for you...
• PhillyVoice staff: All seven of our writers are taking the Saints over the Eagles on Sunday. Here's more from Eagles beat writer Jimmy Kempski...
The Eagles switched out Carson Wentz for Jalen Hurts, but it won't matter much. The Eagles' receivers and their offensive line remain issues, and more importantly, the offense is broken schematically. Surely, it'll look a little different with Hurts at the helm instead of Wentz, and it might even be exciting watching a quarterback with more athletic ability, but the expectation here is that it won't result in much of a difference on the scoreboard, especially against a stingy Saints defense.
If Drew Brees plays, he should be able to carve up the Eagles' defense, like he usually does. It's forecasted to be 60 degrees and sunny on Sunday, so there will be little benefit to facing Brees outdoors. If Taysom Hill starts, running quarterbacks have done damage against the Eagles this season.
Ultimately, the Saints are a really good team that has won nine straight games. The Eagles are a really bad team that has lost four straight games. Let's not overthink it.
• Inquirer.com: All four of their writers are predicting an Eagles loss on Sunday, with three of the four picking the Saints to cover. Here's more from Jeff McLane, who sees a 27-15 win for New Orleans.
Jalen Hurts’ first career NFL start doesn’t look inviting. He’ll be facing the No. 1-ranked defense, a unit that has allowed only an average of 8.8 points over its last five games, and a scorned Malcolm Jenkins who may know the Eagles offense as well as any defender. A Hurts-run offense will look different than a Carson Wentz one, but let’s face it, Doug Pederson’s scheme hasn’t evolved much over the last three years. ...
The Saints have weathered the loss of quarterback Drew Brees. Taysom Hill is nowhere near the pocket passer, but he, too, is a dual threat. He’s big, fast, and the Eagles may need to spy him. The Saints, though, have other skill position weapons, and I see a number of mismatches — Michael Thomas vs. Avonte Maddox or Alvin Kamara vs. Alex Singleton — that will make it hard for Jim Schwartz’s group to keep the score under 24.
I think Hurts will give the Eagles a little jolt, but it won’t be enough. This team has much more wrong with it than just the quarterback.
• NJ.com staff: Five of their six writers are picking the Saints, and even a few of them see a closer game than many expect. Here's more from beat writer Mike Kaye, who is in the majority with his prediction.
This one smells like a potential upset, with Jalen Hurts making his first NFL start, and Drew Brees still being shelved by the Saints. However, if there’s anything we’ve learned about the Doug Pederson era, it’s that he can’t beat Pete Carroll or Sean Payton. This game will be close, but no cigars for Doug and company.
PICK: Saints 26, Eagles 24
• Bleeding Green Nation staff: Just like last week against the Packers, three of their nine writers are picking an Eagles upset on Sunday.
• ESPN staff: Each of their nine NFL experts are picking New Orleans.
• Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Saints 26, Eagles 20
• Mike Triplett, ESPN.com: Saints 23, Eagles 17
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Saints 27, Eagles 14
Jalen Hurts is starting for the Eagles. Taysom Hill is likely starting one more game for the Saints. They are not set up equally for success. While Hill is backed up by a dynamic running game, Hall of Fame coach and peaking defense, Hurts has none of that support in his first NFL start. Good luck!
This could be Drew Brees back at quarterback for the Saints because he's eligible to come off the IR list. If not, Taysom HIll will make his fourth start after winning his first three. The Eagles will turn to Jalen Hurts at quarterback rather than Carson Wentz. It won't be easy against the Saints dominant defense.
• Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Saints 30, Eagles 20
Different quarterback for the Eagles, same result.
• Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Saints 24, Eagles 20
Benching Carson Wentz for Jalen Hurts was the right move, but it won’t be enough.
• USA TODAY Sports staff: All seven of their writers are picking the Saints.
• SB Nation: Nine of their 10 experts are picking the Saints, with the lone Eagles selection coming from one of the BGN writers we already included above, so for all intents and purposes, this is another clean sweep for New Orleans.
• Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Saints 28, Eagles 17
It would have been one thing if you jumped on the Philadelphia Eagles when they were getting more than a touchdown at home against an opponent that is likely to again be without its future Hall of Fame quarterback. But Philadelphia has finally officially benched NFL interception leader Carson Wentz and this line has dropped to 6.5, which isn't enough for the vast majority of our pickers. ...
For what it's worth on that note, four of the Saints' last five wins have come by at least 14 points. They aren't as explosive without Brees, but the defense has surrendered just 8.8 points per game during that aforementioned five-game run. And while Taysom Hill could always bomb in place of Brees offensively, New Orleans might only need Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray to do most of the work against a D that was gashed last week by Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.
Oh, and Hill's legs could be a difference-maker as well against Philadelphia considering how poorly that defense has fared against running quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Daniel Jones this season.
• Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Sheil makes his picks against the spread and this week he's picking the Saints to not only win, but to cover as well.
Jalen Hurts makes his first career start for the Eagles. What should we expect? A QB-inclusive run game with a heavy dose of zone read and designed runs, designed rollouts and shots downfield. Hurts was accurate with his downfield passing in college and hit Jalen Reagor on a nice deep ball last week. As for the Saints, they are an incredible 8-0 against the spread over the last two seasons without Drew Brees. I know that streak will end at some point, but with how well their defense is playing, I’m taking New Orleans against a rookie quarterback.
• Bill Bender, Sporting News: Saints 24, Eagles 16
Will the Eagles turn to Jalen Hurts with their season on the line? He offered a spark in the second half in last week's loss to the Packers. The Saints have allowed just 9.3 points per game in Taysom Hill's three starts. This will be close, but New Orleans hangs on to the top seed in the NFC.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Saints 26, Eagles 20
The Saints keep looking great offensively with Taysom Hill. The Eagles might be looking for a similar kind of dual threat spark from Jalen Hurts in a must-win game after tough losses to the Seahawks and Packers. Philadelphia's defense can cause a few problems for New Orleans' offense because it can contain the run. The Eagles can help Hurts with a strong short-to-intermediate game and designed runs, but it won't be enough.
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