In the beginning of the season, schedule makers probably touted this game as an exciting matchup between Brees vs Wentz with a battle for playoff positioning. What if I told you neither would be playing in the beginning of the season? The 3-8-1 Philadelphia Eagles will host the 10-2 New Orleans Saints on Sunday with a new quarterback at the helm. Rookie Jalen Hurts will replace the struggling Carson Wentz to make his first NFL start. The Saints have been riding a new quarterback themselves in Taysom Hill who has gone 3-0 as a starter since taking over for the injured Drew Brees. The quarterbacks may be different but the result probably will be the same. Is the Saints defense really #1?
Coach Doug Pederson was looking for a spark and he got one last Sunday at least for 1 series. The X-factor on Sunday could very well be Jalen Hurts with his ability to extend plays and drives with his legs. Some would rank the Saints defense as the best in the league however they have yet to face a mobile quarterback this season. Replacing Wentz in a loss at Green Bay last week, Jalen completed 5 of 12 passes for 109 yards, one touchdown, one interception and also took three sacks. It will be interesting to see how this plays out on Sunday. I expect early success from the Eagles utilizing Hurts strengths. Heavy doses of the RPO with scramble plays out of the pocket. Remember though, Hurts is a rookie quarterback learning to grow in a very bad offense across the board. Mobility will be key in moving the football against the Saints.
“We’re playing against a great defense this week and we got to do what we can on this side to control the controllables – control our effort, control our execution, control our mindset, and go into it the right way and go out there and play a hard-fought game,”Jalen Hurts on playing the Saints Defense
Are they really that good? The Saints defense struggled through the first half of this season giving up 28 PPG in their first 7 games. Things have began to change since the 38-3 beatdown of Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football. Including that game, the Saints have given up only an 8.8 PPG against their last 5 opponents. The Saints defensive line has been a brick wall for opposing offenses trying to run the football. Opposing offenses are averaging just 76 yards per game (2nd) and only 3.3 yards per carry (1st). The line has also contributed big time to the teams tenacious pass rush accounting for 29 for the teams 36 sacks. Trey Hendrickson is a beast leading the team with 10.5 sacks. Cam Jordan was the NFC Defensive player of the month with 5 sacks in November. I am not sure I see a path for the Eagles offensive line to be able to stop this group. They will be starting their 12th different line combination in 13 games with Jason Peters downgraded for Sunday.
The linebackers and defensive backs are nothing to sleep on either. All Pro Linebacker Demario Davis leads the team with 85 tackles also has 4 sacks. Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins is second in tackles (56) adding 2 sacks and 2 interceptions. The Saints are 4th in pass yards given up and have 13 total interceptions on the season spread throughout the secondary. The defense now ranks number 1 in the NFL in yards allowed with 3,466 per pro football reference.
Taysom Hill – New Look Saints Offense
Taysom Hill has shown he can sling the rock a little bit on top of running the ball. He was 27 of 37 for 232 yards and 2 TD passes one of which was the 1st touchdown pass of his career last Sunday. The Saints offense has adjusted to Hills explosive running style which has really changed the dynamic. Alvin Kamara, who is known for catching at least 6 or 7 passes per game, only has 3 catches for 7 yards in 3 games with Hill. Kamara is still effective via the running game but the have increased carries for Latavius Murray too. My point is the Eagles defense doesn’t really know to expect with only 3 games of tape on Hill and the new look Saints offense. Which Hill will they get? Which Kamara? The Eagles defense has been a lot better as of late but star receivers have gotten the best of them.
Next Up: Michael Thomas
They seem to struggle against called quarterback runs too. Remember Daniel Jones run? He isn’t even what you would call a “running quarterback”.
The Philadelphia Eagles were given a spark last Sunday and it seemed to give life to the entire offense. As exciting as that was it won’t be enough vs this Saints team. We may see some early success in RPO department and a few scrambling throws on the run but this Eagles offense just isn’t good enough. I expect the defense to struggle as well with Darius Slay possibly out and struggling against superstar wide receivers as it is this season. The score will be a lot closer then the game looks as the Eagles continue to point fingers when we all know its one mans fault.
Saints 24 – Eagles 13
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Photo Creator: Mitchell Leff | Credit: Getty Images