NFC Divisional Spherical
Who
: Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)
When: Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
The place: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
TV: FOX
Odds: Saints -8
Over/Beneath: 51

Story of the tape

2018 Stats Eagles Saints
Factors Per Sport 22.9 (18) 31.5 (3)
Factors Allowed/Sport 21.8 (12) 22.1 (14)
Rush Yards/Sport 98.1 (28) 126.6 (6)
Move Yards/Sport 267 (7) 253 (12)
Complete Yards/Sport 365.3 (14) 379.2 (8)
Rush Yards Allowed/Sport 96.9 (7) 80.2 (2)
Move Yards Allowed/Sport 269 (T-29) 269 (T-29)
Complete Yards Allowed/Sport 366.2 (23) 349.1 (14)
Third-Down Offense 41.0% (12) 44.6% (7)
Third-Down Protection 35.5% (6) 41.3% (24)
Workforce Sacks 44 (T-8) 49 (T-5)
Turnover Differential -6 (25) +8 (7)

(Common-season rank in parentheses)

Sport-breaker

Will the Eagles study from their Week 11 errors vs. the Saints?

Those that overlook the previous are doomed to repeat it.

Hold these phrases in thoughts as you watch the ultimate sport of the divisional-round weekend. The Eagles and Saints met in Week 11, which resulted in a 48-7 New Orleans rout. In that contest, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was overly involved with Saints vast receiver Michael Thomas and working again Alvin Kamara, got here up with a novel method for slowing the duo down.

Unsurprisingly, it backfired.

Schwartz determined to double-team each gamers on some performs, hoping that eliminating the Saints’ two finest receiving threats would decelerate the complete offense.

For instance, on this 2nd-and-15 play from late within the first quarter, the Saints put Drew Brees in shotgun and empty the backfield. Kamara is vast to the best subsequent to Thomas, and he runs a vertical route whereas the vast receiver executes a shallow crosser:

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Here is the protection the Eagles use as they double-team each Thomas and Kamara:

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The Eagles even carry the free security down from the deep center to leap Thomas’ crossing route. That exposes the world the security leaves, nevertheless, which is strictly the place Brees throws, discovering tight finish Dan Arnold for a 23-yard achieve:

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Later within the sport, the Saints once more put Kamara and Thomas on the identical facet of the formation, and the Eagles nonetheless double-team each gamers. That allowed Brees to search out Tre’Quan Smith on a shallow crossing route:

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Eagles followers are hoping Schwartz realized classes in Week 11. Nevertheless, if he insists on utilizing extra double-team coverages, Philadelphia may quit some massive passing performs once more.

Greatest mismatch

Saints WR Michael Thomas vs. Eagles CB Avonte Maddox

The Saints transfer Thomas throughout the formation, however they’re going to certainly use him to assault Eagles rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox, who sometimes strains up on the left.

Thomas is a clean route runner who understands the right way to get open in opposition to any protection, and Brees has a 104.5 passer score when concentrating on him, per The Quant Edge.

Listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 kilos, Maddox faces a extreme measurement drawback in opposition to the 6-Three and 212-pound Thomas, who must be profitable in jump-ball and contested-catch conditions. If New Orleans can scheme Thomas right into a one-on-one matchup with Maddox within the pink zone, the wideout ought to win that battle simply.

Thomas must also dominate Maddox when the rookie is in man protection. The Eagles will probably play plenty of zone to place Maddox in one of the best conditions for his talent set. Nevertheless, they’re going to be pressured to play man at instances too whereas offering Maddox with deep security assist.

However that gained’t assist Maddox within the intermediate components of the sector the place Thomas is a grasp at getting open on slants, digs, and out routes. Right here’s an important instance of him separating on a slant:

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He aligns with a plus cut up reverse Steelers cornerback Joe Haden, after which bodily powers via the jam, producing sufficient separation to choose up the primary down after the catch.

Thomas did a very good job releasing exterior and getting Haden’s momentum transferring that manner. He used that momentum in opposition to the cornerback, pushing Haden vast and accelerating at a 45-degree angle upfield to separate.

Whereas Thomas will see plenty of zone and double protection, he ought to benefit from snaps in opposition to Maddox in man protection. If he does, the 25-year-old might high his four-catch, 92-yard outing the final time these two groups clashed.

Three keys to the sport

Can New Orleans hit double strikes? Why did not the Bears try extra double strikes in the course of the first half in opposition to the Eagles? That is one of the important questions after wild-card weekend.

The Eagles’ secondary has been crushed up all season, with just one different staff taking part in extra defensive backs. The group of younger pups the staff fields is proficient however uncooked, and infrequently overly aggressive whereas trying to soar quick routes. Dangle a slant or a fast in-breaking route in entrance of them, and they’re going to drive towards the ball.

Chicago figured that out within the second half and related on a number of double strikes, most notably sluggo routes (slant-and-go). The Saints ought to be aware of that technique.

Can the Saints’ offensive line defend Brees? The Saints’ offensive line is stable, however the Eagles’ defensive entrance appears like an All-Professional poll. Fletcher Cox is taking part in one of the best soccer of his profession. Brandon Graham appears to be getting higher with age, too, and Michael Bennett stays a drive.

Philly’s protection is creating stress on 30 % of the opposing quarterback’s dropbacks, based on Soccer Outsiders. In the meantime, the Saints concede a stress on solely 23 % of Brees’ dropbacks, a league-best mark achieved partly as a result of the veteran removes the ball so rapidly. One thing should give on Sunday.

The Foles conundrum: Is Nick Foles going to play like among the finest all-time postseason quarterbacks once more? Sooner or later does his fortune run out? Or is he actually simply that good?

I’m as confused as you. He’ll must play a clear sport in New Orleans. If the Saints are given further possessions and good subject place, the Eagles will not have a shot.

Betting tendencies

Bettors aren’t fading Foles. After the backup led the cost in a comeback win over the Chicago Bears in the course of the Wild-Card spherical, his Eagles are attracting 53 % of the cash on the unfold and 71 % of the tickets on the moneyline, which has a haul of higher than +300 in most outlets.

The over can be the favored decide for the overall, getting 75 % of the general tickets and 95 % of the cash. The Saints have scored at will at residence in the course of the postseason within the Brees-Payton period, averaging greater than 35 factors.

Predictions

Mark Schofield: It is arduous to guess in opposition to the Eagles and Foles after the staff has gained six of its final seven video games. However with the Saints’ offense getting again into kind and Ted Ginn Jr. coming back from a knee harm, New Orleans ought to finish the Eagles’ run. Saints 28, Eagles 20.

John Proudly owning: The Saints’ passing offense is an excessive amount of for the Eagles’ banged-up secondary, and Foles’ magic will lastly run out. Saints 26, Eagles 14.

Oliver Connolly: One thing is going on with this Eagles staff once more. The Saints are higher, however I am taking Philly. Eagles 24, Saints 21.

Alex Kolodziej: It was a very good run for Foles and the Eagles. New Orleans will placed on a present within the dome and play like a Tremendous Bowl favourite ought to. Saints 34, Eagles 21.

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