Nick Foles is 7-0 in elimination games over the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, but his magical run might finally come to an end when the Eagles fly down to the Superdome to battle Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints (13-3) secured the #1 seed in the NFC and had the benefit of a bye week in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Eagles backdoored a Wild Card berth with the #6 seed. They defeated the Chicago Bears 16-15 in dramatic fashion when Foles led the defending champions to a comeback victory in the fourth quarter. The Bears had a chance to knock out the Eagles with a game-winning kick, but Cody Parkey missed a field goal that hit the upright twice in the now infamous double-doink disaster.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-7) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Kickoff: 1:40pm PT
Location: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Point Spread: NO -8
The Saints went 6-2 at home this season in the Big Easy. The Eagles are 4-4 on the road. The line opened with the Eagles as 7.5-point underdogs. The line ticked as high as +10 in some spots before tricking back down to +8.
In November, the Saints destroyed the Eagles 44-7 with Carson Wentz starting at quarterback. The Eagles slipped to 4-6 and it looked like their postseason hopes were circling the drain.
Head coach Doug Pederson rallied his troops and the Eagles finished the season 5-1 to secure a Wild Card spot. With a win over the Bears last week, the Eagles have won six out of their last seven games since the butt-kicking in Week 11.
Pederson has been a head coach for only three seasons, but he is 4-0 in the playoffs.
Saints head coach Sean Payton is 7-5 in the playoffs, including a 3-0 clip in 2009 when he led the Saints to a victory in Super Bowl XLIV against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
The big question on everyone’s mind: can Nick Foles continue his magical run? The Eagles ran the table in the playoffs last season and Foles won the MVP of the Super Bowl.
Foles’ numbers have not been outstanding this season (7 TD, 4 INT, 67.4 QBR), but he keeps winning when his back is up against the wall. Foles started the season for the first two games before Carson Wentz returned to the lineup after recovering from knee surgery. Foles took over late in the season when Wentz went down with a fractured back.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Nick Foles: 1,413 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT, 67.4 QBR
Drew Brees: 3,992 yards, 32 TD, 5 INT, 81.9 QBR
Foles tossed two touchdowns in the victory over the Bears, who also picked him off twice. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Golden Tate and Foles hooked up with a two-yard touchdown on a clutch fourth down situation. Tate did not make huge impact in the regular season since his arrival after a trade with the Detroit Lions, but he saved his best performance for the postseason with 5 receptions, 46 yards, and the game-winning touchdown.
Brees, Thomas, and Kamara
The Saints big three are fairly obvious: Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara. Brees only threw five picks all season, which is second-best in the NFL.
Saints fans are miffed that Kamara (14 rushing TD, 4 passing TD, and 1,592 combined yards from scrimmage) failed to make the Pro Bowl, despite an outstanding season. When coupled with Mark Ingram (7 total TDs), the Kamara/Ingram tag-team is the deadliest one-two running punch in the NFL. Kamara averages 4.6 yards per carry and Ingram averages 4.7 yards per carry.
Brees has been setting records his entire life, but this season he passed Peyton Manning as the NFL’s all-time passer and he joined the exclusive 500 TD Club with the likes of Manning, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady.
Brees loves Michael Thomas. Even though he’s double-teamed and up against the top defenders in the league, Thomas still caught 125 balls for 1,405 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns.
Who Has a Better Defense?
This game features two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, but both teams have top-notch run defenses. The Saints are ranked #29, while the Eagles are #30 in passing yards allowed (each at 269 yards per game). The Saints are second-best in the NFL with only 80.2 rushing yards allowed per game. The Eagles have a top six run defense and only allow 96.9 rushing yards per game. They will be tasked with stopping the dynamic duo of Kamara and Ingram.
The Saints generate 31.5 points per game, which is third best in the NFL. The Eagles struggled to score earlier in the season, but have since finished the season averaging 22.9 points per game.
The Eagles have no semblance of a running game and ranked #28 overall, so it really doesn’t matter that they’re going up against one of the toughest run defenses in the league.
In terms of DVOA, the Saints are ranked #6 overall with a #3 run defense. The Eagles are ranked #18 with a #9 run defense.
Against the Spread
The Saints are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games. They were on fire at one point with a 5-0 clip on the back end of their ten-game winning streak. However, the Saints are only 6-4 ATS over their last ten games.
The Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last four overall games and 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff games. The Eagles are also 7-2 ATS in their last 9 road playoff games.
The over hit in all six previous playoff games played by the Saints at the Superdome. The over is 10-3-1 in the last 14 playoff games for the Saints.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the New Orleans Saints are the top favorite on the board to win the Super Bowl at +220 odds. The Philadelphia Eagles are 18-1 odds to repeat as Super Bowl champions.