The Saints and Eagles are two teams that could have met in the playoffs last year had Marcus Williams made a good tackle to end the game. Instead, they meet in NO for the first time since 2012, where the Saints won 28-13. The Eagles and Saints have always been a good rivalry to witness, as there are multiple factors to keep an eye on throughout the course of the game. Let’s take a look at the key matchups that could change the game:
Saints RBs vs Eagles LBs
The Saints offense is known as one of the most dynamic in the league, where most of the production comes from the tremendous versatility in the two RBs, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Mark Ingram is a power-running back, while Kamara can lineup anywhere on the offense and would still be a dangerous threat. The Eagles are gonna have a tall task guarding the RBs in the backfield that can also line up as receivers, as both RBs have the dangerous ability to come off the backfield to catch passes. Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks are the two players to keep an eye on, as they can be the players to guard the RBs coming out of the backfield.
Eagles WRs vs Saints DBs
The Eagles WRs could either have a field day against these Saints defensive backs or a struggle, as this could change the way the game is perceived. Nelson Agholor and newly acquired Golden Tate, as well as Zach Ertz, who is really the best, and Wentz’s favorite, weapon on the Eagles, need to step up in this game after putting up a stinker last week at home against the Dallas Cowboys. Although the Saints’ defensive backs have been much better from last year, they have been prone to giving up big yardage plays, which could give Doug Pederson an opportunity to be aggressive early and throughout the game. The Eagles are fighting for their playoff lives and will need a big game from their receivers to help Wentz and the team stay alive in the race.
Can the Eagles Establish A Run-Game?
The Eagles are going up against an explosive offense in the Saints, as they will look to get on the board as quick as possible. That brings up the question of whether the Eagles have time to set up a run game. With Ajayi out for the year with a torn ACL, the Eagles are thin at talent but loaded in depth, regarding the RB situation. Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, and Wendall Smallwood can all pound the ball as well catch passes out of the backfield. However, the Saints are a team known to score the ball quickly, with their aggressive play call. It could lead to the Eagles abandoning the run in favor of passing the ball, in order to match the Saints. Or, the Eagles can chew clock up in order to avoid giving the ball back to Drew Brees. That will be the main question heading into the game.
Offense or Defense?
Both these defenses have been flipped from last year, as the Saints are now improving, while the Eagles are regressing. Heading into the game, it raises a concern: Which is more valued in this game, offense or defense? In the end, with the way the whole season has been playing out, the defense hasn’t been as important as it once used to be. However, because of how prolific both offenses are, the defense will be even more pressured to make a stop. Overall, both sides of the ball are equally important, but with the way both teams are formed, it may look to be a shootout heading into the game.
In summary, both the Eagles and Saints have tremendous offenses and underrated defenses. The Eagles are gonna give it their all to stay in the playoff hunt, while the Saints will look to improve to 10-1 and eye home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.