Looking Ahead to Philly

Coming off an electrifying win, the Saints are set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles (1-3). The Saints will look to build some momentum heading into the Thursday Night game against the Atlanta Falcons (4-0).

Surprisingly, the Eagles are a 5.5-point favorite. The Eagles, a possible Super Bowl favorite coming into the season, have underwhelmed. The offense has struggled to get going. According to ESPN, the Eagles are ranked 28th in total offense (1,176 yards); they only average 19.5 points a game.

The most evident thing missing from this Eagles offense is a powerful running game. With a backfield that consists of DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, and Ryan Matthews–the Eagles were supposed to have one of the best running games in the NFL. They have not delivered. The Eagles are sitting at an average of 70 rush yards a game, the third lowest in the league.

Sam Bradford has been iffy at best. At times, he looks like a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback; at other times, he looks like a mediocre quarterback at best. So far, he has thrown for 948 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.

And then there is the Saints. The Saints are averaging 387.3 yards a game, but they are only scoring 21.5 points a game. Something isn’t adding up… The offense has not been very efficient in the red zone. According to teamranking.com, the Saints have only scored a touchdown on 57.14% of their possessions inside the 20-yard line. Let’s not even bring up the fact that the Saints’ luck with field goals and extra points hasn’t been so great.

Entering the season, there was a lot of hype surrounding Brandin Cooks, the Saints’ first-round draft pick from 2014. Brandin Cooks has 20 receptions for 215 yards and no touchdowns. Cooks is yet to have that breakout game that gets him started. On the other hand, Willie Snead has become one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets. He is averaging 15 yards a catch. Despite the fact that Brandin Cooks has not quite lived up to the expectations thus far, he is still playing a major role in this offense. He is a speedy threat that will shred defenses if given space. He has forced teams to put their best guys on him. Cooks is undoubtedly making it easier for guys like Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman to make plays.

Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks

The Saints defense has struggled this year. Despite the fact that they are ranked 23rd in total defense, I’m going to cut them some slack. They were without three key defensive players in the first three games. The game against the Cowboys saw the return on Jairus Byrd, Keenan Lewis, and Dannell Ellerbe. The defense played much better last week. Rookies have played a major role in this defense; they are evidently improving. Three rookies (Hau’oli Kikaha, Stephone Anthony, and Tyeler Davison) tallied a sack against the Cowboys. I’d say things can only get better for the Saints defense.

Kikaha

Philadelphia’s defense has also had its fair share of struggles. They are the 20th ranked team in total defense. The Eagles’ defense has allowed 276.5 passing yards a game. This should help a Drew Brees who is recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Week 3 matchup against the Panthers. Drew Brees looked like his normal self against the Cowboys as he was 33 for 41, and he threw for two touchdowns and 359 yards.

Despite the fact that the Eagles are favored by 5.5-points, I think the game will be very close. Both teams will be dealing with some significant injuries. The Saints have declared left tackle Terron Armstead and punter Thomas Morstead out. Linebackers Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, and defensive end Brandon Blair have been declared out for the Eagles.

This game will be a battle between a potentially explosive offense and weak defense for both teams. The outcome of the game will be determined by the defense that plays better. The Saints will need to shut down the Eagles’ running game and pressure Sam Bradford. The Saints are still without an interception on the year, and this Sunday would be a great time to get one. After the release of safety Kenny Phillips, Saints fans can expect more play from Jairus Byrd, a potential game changer.

I’m going to go with 29-17 Saints. I think the Saints defense will have a solid performance against the Eagles. I’m looking for Sean Payton to heavily use Spiller this week. We saw Spiller’s speed and explosiveness in his 80-yard touchdown reception in overtime this past week. I also expect Brandin Cooks to have his breakout game. The Eagles’ secondary has been very shaky, and this is a great opportunity for Cooks. It will definitely be an action-packed game that may determine the fate of each team’s season.

Scouting the Competition New Orleans Saints versus Philadelphia Eagles

Scouting the Competition New Orleans Saints versus Philadelphia Eagles