A matchup that could have been last year will come into fruition this Sunday as the Saints taken on the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles. If not for that “miracle”, the Saints would have taken their talents to Philly and had a chance to contend for a Super Bowl appearance since 2009. Now, they will get their shot in the Superdome riding an 8-game win streak against an Eagles team coming off a pivotal 27-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
We all know the Saints are capable of putting up points any given week. They have scored a combined 96 points in the last two games with 70 of them coming in the first half. They now lead the league with 36.7 points/game. The Eagles, on the contrary, are not so fortunate with only averaging 22 points/game with their highest being 34 in a win over the New York Giants in Week 6. Needless to say, if the Eagles want to win this game, they better hope it is not in a shootout against Drew Brees and Company.
For the Saints to keep the Big Easy Train rolling, they will need to hit on three crucial stat points against Philadelphia. The first point is getting pressure on Carson Wentz at all cost. The Eagles have given up 28 sacks this season as their offensive line has been depleted by injuries and inconsistent play. Vice versa, the Saints offensive line has only given up a league low 9 sacks all year and would have to keep up their spectacular play against the likes of Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett and Chris Long.
The second point would be winning the turnover battle which the Saints have done well so far in protecting the football. They have 8 total turnovers and a plus-2 ratio compared to the Eagles who have given up 13 turnovers and have a minus-6 ratio. The third point, and always important, is 3rd down efficiency. I always feel that 3rd down plays are always a game changer because it could be the difference between getting a touchdown or taking a chance for a field goal and swinging the points. Both teams are very high in that stat with the Saints ranked 6th at 46 percent and the Eagles ranked 12th at 41 percent. The task will be tough with Philly having the 5th best defense in that category at 35 percent.
The X-Factor stat for this game will be rushing yards. The Saints still own the #1 ranked rush defense at 80 yards/game and the Eagles have struggled to be consistent on the ground since Jay Ajayi was put on injured reserve. On the other side, Philly is ranked 7th in rush defense and will have a huge challenge with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Whoever can move the ball up and down the field on the ground should be able to control the clock and wear down the opposing defense and set up play action calls.
This game will be interesting depending on which Eagles team will show up this week. They need a win to keep their division and playoff hopes alive. But coming down to the Big Easy and playing in one of the loudest stadiums in the league with their team on a win streak this big is not what the doctor ordered. The Saints have the stats on their side and I will keep saying it until proven wrong: STATS DON’T LIE.