Back in my Week 3 matchup preview, I had referenced Jackie Moon from Semi-Pro with “EVERYBODY PANIC!” At the time, it was only a joke because the Eagles were 0-2 and still looking for their first win, but little did I know 11 weeks later they would only have three wins under their belt and on a four-game losing skid. The regular season is getting closer to ending and the Eagles are fighting an uphill battle to finish first place in a lousy division. Unfortunately, they’re in the middle of a tough stretch in their schedule with the New Orleans Saints marching into Philadelphia with some strong momentum. The last time these two teams faced off was in the 2018 playoffs, and the Saints came away victorious in the divisional round in January 2019. Here is the preview of this Sunday’s matchup against yet another dominant team.
The New Orleans Saints are looking to extend their impressive nine-game winning streak. Drew Brees went down with a ribs/lung injury on November 20th but ever since then backup Taysom Hill has been filling some big shoes. The team has not skipped a beat ever since Hill took over.
Hill has showcased more of his pocket passing ability last week in their win against the Atlanta Falcons. He completed 73% of his passes for 232 yards with his first two career passing touchdowns. For the last few years, the Saints have had a powerful offense and in recent years running back Alvin Kamara has been the player teams have dreaded facing. In last week's game, Kamara produced 88 yards on the ground, including a 37-yard rush and an acrobatic 11-yard touchdown. This season, he has produced 673 rushing yards, 70 receptions, 655 receiving yards, and 13 total touchdowns. Michael Thomas tore up the field and seemed to be Hill’s top target. Thomas had nine receptions for 105 yards while recording his 500th career reception in last week’s game.
On top of a fantastic offense, they have an unstoppable defense. LB Demario Davis led a unit that allowed only 70 rushing yards on 21 carries by posting nine tackles, one of the most important tackles being two late fourth-quarter stuffs on back-to-back plays on Falcons RB Todd Gurley for a total of minus seven yards. This Saints defense is no joke, and Malcolm Jenkins is going to have them fired up, as the former Eagles safety is coming back to the Linc with a chip on his shoulder after the Birds got rid of him in the offseason.
The biggest storyline to come out of the Eagles locker room this week is that after 13 weeks, Carson Wentz has been benched for the rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts (for my opinion on the matter, check out this article). Hurts replaced Wentz in a loss at Green Bay last week and has played in a Taysom Hill-type role on offense this season, completing 8 of his 15 passes so far. Miles Sanders is averaging 5.3 yards per carry but only has 16 rushes in the past two games. He is still the team's overall leader in the ground game with 631 yards through nine games.
Despite their record and recent big outings from opposing offenses, their pass defense is actually among the best in the league. They allow opponents to tally just 217.2 passing yards on average. The defense will have more of a challenge this week because the Saints have threats in the ground and pass game. They’ve stopped the ground game fairly well, but they may have an issue with attempting to stop Alvin Kamara this week. This season, Brandon Graham has notched a team-leading seven sacks, while adding 37 tackles and 12 TFL. Darius Slay is in the midst of a five-game gauntlet in which he’ll be matched up against one of the best receivers in the NFL each week, and the early results aren’t promising. In the last two weeks, Slay has allowed 16 catches for 269 yards against two of the most dominant wideouts in the NFL in DK Metcalf and Devante Adams.
Will the Eagles snap a four-game losing streak in hopes of keeping this season? Or will the Saints remain dominant and continue their impressive streak? My money’s on the latter, but who knows? We may see an upset and some fire from the birds for the first time this season. Only one way to find out..tune in to FOX at 4:25 this Sunday.