Philadelphia Eagles: Keys Against the New Orleans Saints
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears after a last-second missed field goal allowed the visitors to come away victoriously. Now the Nick Foles train continues south to face the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles were embarrassed earlier this season against the Saints but don’t count them out this time around.
Check out three keys to the Eagles coming away with a big victory on the road against the Saints.
Win or Go Home
It’s win or go home time for the Eagles. For a bunch teams still playing, this is new to them once the playoffs began. However ever since the Eagles were blown out against the Saints, Philadelphia needed to win to stay alive and keep their slim playoff chances alive. They scored a late touchdown to take the lead and keep their chances to win against the Bears alive. Somehow Philadelphia escaped after a missed field goal and moved on to the next round.
This game is no different for the Eagles. They are the underdogs again. Foles and the Eagles have won four playoff games in the last two seasons as the underdog. If they do it again on Sunday, then they will make NFL history with five playoff wins as the underdog.
With the win or go home mentality being a constant in the Eagles locker room, Philadelphia’s nerves won’t be running rampant when they take the field on Sunday.
Philadelphia’s starters have been playing as much as often week after week. Some of the players, especially during the Saints game, missed major time on the field. The Eagles were playing practice squad players and other unknown rookies against the Saints, which allowed New Orleans to expose the Eagles’ defense.
Now, the Eagles are healthier again and key players are back in the secondary and on the defensive line. Normal backups have stepped up in their teammates’ absence since that game especially last week against the Bears.
Additionally, the Eagles haven’t had major time off like the Saints. Their regular routine continued after clinching a Week 17 win and a subsequent playoff birth. On the other hand, the Saints players didn’t play last week and many starters didn’t see time in the last week of the regular season.
Yes, Saints players are experienced and professionals. However, NFL fans have seen teams coming off a first-round bye get beat at home in the divisional round. The Eagles wouldn’t be the first sixth seed to defeat the first seed on the round in NFL playoffs history. While not playing and relaxation is good, in this case the team who kept playing is fresher and ready to rumble.
Darren Sproles didn’t play against the Saints last time. This time he’s healthy and looks like a player in his peak. He’s a threat on both the pass and the run. However, he’s no power back but the Eagles have other options for plays that require a power back.
The Eagles offense has many weapons for Nick Foles to utilize. However, Sproles’ ability to run or catch a pass or even block leaves opposing defenses guessing. The time spent hesitating on how to guard Sproles allows Foles to find open receivers or leaves a hole open for a big run by Sproles.
There’s no pressure on the Eagles this week. Yes, it’s win or go home for them. However, they’ve gone farther this season than anyone predicted after how the early part of the regular season played out. They won three playoff games last year as the underdogs and it’s possible a second playoff win as the underdog could happen again.