January 11, 2019
The last time the Eagles traveled to New Orleans, things didn't go so well. In fact, that 48-7 drubbing in Week 11 was one of the worst Eagles losses I ever remember watching, especially given the expectations of the team at that time.
The team finished with a season-low 196 total yards and just 13 first downs (also a season low), while turning the ball over three times, which was tied for their most in a game all season.
So what will be different this time around? Well, for one, there will be a different quarterback under center for the Eagles, who have played much better football (both on offense and defense) since the that fateful mid-November trip to the Superdome.
In fact, that loss may have changed the entire course of the season. Since then, their only loss came in overtime to the Cowboys, a game the Birds would certainly like to have back.
That, however, is in the past. And only the future matters now.
Will the Eagles' season come to an end on Sunday afternoon in New Orleans? Will they upset the Saints to advance to their second conference title game in as many years? Here's how our staff sees this divisional round matchup playing out...
TV: FOX | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Saints (-8) | TOTAL: 51.5 (via Bovada)
Here are 10 reasons why the Eagles are in better position to beat the Saints this Sunday than they were back in November:
So do the Eagles have hope? You bet your ass they do. Still, I'm taking Brees at home, ha.
When it comes to making actual football arguments about the Eagles and Saints game, it's hard to really win one for Philadelphia. The Eagles' secondary was absolutely torn apart to epically embarrassing levels when these two teams first faced off, and though the unit has played much better of late, it's hard for me to see them holding the Saints under the 30-point mark. I also worry about them stopping Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara enough to control the time of possession.
On offense, I was not encouraged by their 16 points against the Bears - who granted have a better defense - and am especially concerned with the ground game, now led by Wendell Smallwood who helped the Birds to a gross 1.8 yards per carry.
The Eagles need to keep the ball, move the ball and score points to have a chance to win, while also keeping some kind of check on Michael Thomas and the rest of Drew Brees' weapons. As much as I worship at the alter of our lord and savior Nick Foles, I have to insert some realistic rationale here and project that his Eagles career ends Sunday afternoon.
That's right. I'm picking the Eagles to advance to the NFC Championship Game. And my reasoning is full-proof.
Nothing about this Eagles team over the last two seasons has made a whole lot of sense. Still, I tried using logic to pick games. I was wrong. I tried using my gut. I was wrong again. But what if the problem was that I was only looking within for the answers, rather than seeking out whatever higher power has clearly been helping lift the Birds when it matters most.
I'm not a very religious man, but on Friday morning, something happened.
I woke up earlier than usual to handle some work — typically, my cat wakes me up to feed her, but this time, it was so early that she hadn't even come over and placed her 13-pound body directly on my lungs or her litter-scented paws in my mouth. I had barely taken my first deep breath of the morning and had just decided to make a cup of coffee.
That's when I saw it.
At some point during the night, she pulled a book off our bookshelf — just one — and, seated on the floor in front of it with the book opened, appeared to be reading it. That book? "Philly Special" by Sal Paolantonio.
No way I'm picking against BDN and the Eagles after that one...
Are the Eagles in a much better place than they were when they got curb-stomped by the Saints? Yes. Is Nick Foles pulling wins out of the ether again? Yes. So I won’t dismiss the Eagles’ chances entirely — they deserve a bit of respect, and the Saints’ defense is beatable.
But New Orleans is a tough place to play, and they remain a better team top to bottom. I think the Eagles hang around for a bit but ultimately can’t keep pace. The stalled drives that they managed to overcome in Chicago will matter more if they happen with Drew Brees and Co. on the other side of the ball. I hope I’m wrong, but the end of ski mask season feels close.
This prediction probably means that the Eagles WILL LOSE. I’ve had more than a few friends tell me recently to continue picking against them to stay in order where every time I didn’t think they’d win a crucial game, they did: Season opener vs. Atlanta; vs. the Los Angeles Rams with the season in the balance; vs. the New York Giants, at home, with the season in the balance; vs. the Chicago Bears with the season a double-doink from ending.
The “Kiss of Joe” is worse than the “Kiss of Death.” You can probably ask some past female friends of mine about that.
I just think what the Eagles showed — and proved — last week means this is a team closer to what we saw this time last year. Under Nick Foles, the Eagles offense plays with a certain comfort level that they do not do under Carson Wentz. Getting a lead and sustaining a strong running attack will keep Drew Brees off the field — and, hopefully, be the recipe towards winning. There is a confidence with this team that says it won’t be beat 48-7 again.
This time, I hope I’m right.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports