December 30, 2022
The magic number is still one, but with a few major names on the injury report, there's a bit more urgency for the Eagles to get this done.
The NFC East title, the NFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs with home-field advantage and a first-round bye, and even higher draft positioning thanks to that pick swap with the Saints back in April, that's all up for grabs when New Orleans comes to town on Sunday.
Will the Birds wrap things up then and there?
Wrote our Shamus Clancy:
It'll be a bounce-back game and the Saints have the unfortunate distinction of being the next game on the Eagles' schedule following that crushing loss against Dallas. I'll say that A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith each top 100 receiving yards again with Smith picking up two TDs in the easy win. [PhillyVoice]
Let's take a look at what other analysts and writers are thinking...
• The Athletic: Vic Tafur is going with the Eagles and the points:
It doesn’t look like Jalen Hurts will be back and it doesn’t matter. Gardner Minshew was fine last week in a close loss to the Cowboys, and the Saints are worse and have a banged-up secondary.
Minshew might get pressured more than you think because of the absence of Lane Johnson (who will be back for the playoffs). The Eagles’ splits with and without Johnson last season (where it would have ranked across the entire 2021 season in parentheses):
With: 34 percent pressure rate allowed (16), 2.43 yards before contact per carry (1)
Without: 46.7 percent pressure rate allowed (32), 1.6 yards before contact per carry (10)
The Eagles — the rare Super Bowl contender in the mix for a top-10 draft pick — need to win to rest some starters next week, and stacking the box and forcing Andy Dalton to beat you is always fun.
The pick: Eagles -6.5 [The Athletic, $]
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Not surprising: Nick Sirianni and co. will give the Eagles a coaching advantage on Sunday compared to Dennis Allen.
As rumors of Sean Payton’s possible return loom, Dennis Allen will need a miracle for the Saints to win their final two games (vs. Panthers in Week 18). This is a coaching mismatch. The Eagles are more physical on both sides, and even if Gardner Minshew starts again, Philadelphia is the perfect team to expose New Orleans' lack of discipline. With the win, the Eagles lock up the NFC's No. 1 seed and the division title. [NFL.com]
• Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Prisco has the Eagles rebounding against New Orleans.
The Eagles are still trying to lock up the top seed, but they still might be without Jalen Hurts in this one. That would mean another game for Gardner Minshew. The Saints are playing consecutive road games after beating the Browns. The defense played well in that one, but this is a better offense. Look for the Eagles to get back on track after losing to Dallas and end the Saints' small playoff chances.
Pick: Eagles 28, Saints 17 [CBS Sports]
• Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Kapadia has the Eagles taking down the Saints, but with New Orleans covering the six-point spread.
It looks like the Eagles will roll with Gardner Minshew again in this game. Minshew was fine last week against the Cowboys, but what really stood out in that game was how well-supported he was. DeVonta Smith was terrific, and the coaching staff dialed up some outstanding calls against Dallas’s defense. The Eagles can lock up the no. 1 seed in the NFC with a win here.
As for the Saints, they have just a 3 percent chance of getting into the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight. Don’t forget about the subplot in this one. The Eagles own the Saints’ first-round pick in 2023. If the season ended today, that’d be the 10th selection.
I have no feel for this game. I think there’s a chance that the Eagles defense will bounce back in a big way, and they’ll roll. But I could also see the Saints defense giving Minshew a tough time. I think the Eagles will win but the Saints cover.
Pick: Saints +6 [The Ringer]
• ProFootballTalk: The writers at PFT keep it simple. They have the Eagles locking up the No. 1 seed.
MDS’s take: Whether Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew is the starting quarterback, the Eagles shouldn’t have any trouble with the Saints.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 30, Saints 20.
Florio’s take: The Eagles finally wrap up the No. 1 seed.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 20, Saints 17. [PFT, NBC Sports]
• Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Bender has Minshew finishing the job and wrapping up that much-needed first-round bye.
Jalen Hurts (shoulder) remains uncertain for the matchup, but the offense proved it can still operate at a high level with Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Andy Dalton has taken just five sacks in the last four games, so the Eagles' pressure must land. Philadelphia cleans up the turnovers from last week and clinches home-field advantage in the NFC.
Pick: Eagles 28, Saints 20 [The Sporting News]
• Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Simple analysis: The Eagles' pass D will have much easier time with New Orleans than they did Dallas.
The Saints refuse to fade in the NFC playoff race, but they might not have a choice this week. Jalen Hurts is lobbying to return from his right shoulder injury, but the Eagles would be smart to trust Gardner Minshew to deliver in a favorable home matchup. Philadelphia gets a break facing a lesser passing game with its pass defense slumping and its own wide receivers are key to a rebound win.
Pick: Eagles win 30-20 and cover the spread. [The Sporting News]
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