November 17, 2018
For the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints isn't necessarily a must-win, but it's as close as you can get for a 4-5 team with arguably the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL. Playing in hostile territory, the Birds will need to come away victorious or they risk falling further back in the NFC East race heading down the stretch.
As we do each Saturday, let's take a look at a few numbers to keep an eye on in Week 11 in the form of our five Eagles over/unders.
That's the current number being offered over at Bovada, and given the rate at which the Saints have been scoring points in recent weeks, it's hard to bet the under in any game they play this season. Sure, New Orleans may be averaging a league best 36.7 points per game, but they're also allowing close to 26 PPG on the season, meaning Saints games total an average of 62.4 PPG.
While I could see them putting up some points, I don't really know what to expect from the Eagles offense in the Superdome. However, I don't anticipate their defense stopping the Drew Brees and the Saints. Perhaps they can find a way to contain him, but they're typically stout red zone defense struggled last week without Jalen Mills, and he won't be back on Sunday.
Aside from a penchant for dropping the ball, Carson Wentz has been great at avoiding turnovers since returning from his torn ACL. His interception against the Cowboys last Sunday was just his third of the season, and if the Eagles hope to upset the Saints in Week 11, he'll need to avoid giving them the ball on a short field.
Unfortunately, I don't see that happening against a Saints team that has forced multiple turnovers in two of their last three games and has turned the ball over at least once in each of their home games except their season-opening loss to the Bucs. Whether it's a fumble or an interception, I think Wentz turns the ball over at least once on Sunday. That, however, doesn't mean he's in store for a rough day, but the Eagles are likely going to have to pass a lot to keep pace with the Saints, and will cause Wentz to have the ball in his hands quite a bit. I'm just playing the law of averages here.
The Saints' second-year running back is eighth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage, but that's not where he can hurt you most. He's also second in the NFL with 14 total touchdowns in nine games for New Orleans. The Eagles will need to do a better job stopping him than they did against Ezekiel Elliott last week, who went for 187 total yards in the Cowboys' win.
The Eagles have now allowed more than 120 rushing yards in three of their last four games, and if Kamara can get to just slightly north of half that number on the ground, he'll be in danger of hitting the over here. After all, he averages 113.3 yards per game, nearly 53 of it coming through the air.
I feel like I've written about the Eagles' inexcusable (and inexplicable) lack of turnovers on defense this season. Every week, I think it's going to be the week Jim Schwartz's unit finale figures it out. Well, if they want to win this one, a takeaway or two would go a long way toward making that happen.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Saints have turned the ball over just four times in their last seven games while the Birds defense has recorded the same number of takeaways in that same time. Not promising...
If the Eagles can't force the ball out of the hands of Drew Brees and the Saints offense, then they'll have to stop them the traditional way, something the Bengals weren't able to do once in Week 10.
That's ... not great for the Eagles.
And it wasn't just last week's game for the Saints. They've only punted 19 times all season. To put that into some context, only three teams in the NFL have punted fewer than 30 times — and the Browns have punted a league high 64 times this season. Those 19 punts are seven fewer than the next closest team (the Rams) and about half as many as the Eagles, who are right around the middle of the pack with 37 punts.