The final game of the divisional round of the playoffs takes place today as the Philadelphia Eagles will look to continue their improbable run against the NFC’s best, the New Orleans Saints (4.40pm ET Sunday).
Here we go again. If this feels like déjà vu, it should, because once again the Eagles are in the midst of an unlikely postseason journey, courtesy of Nick Foles. The Eagles season was all but over after a week 14 loss to the eventual NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys. Then, enter Foles, who shed his backup label for three glorious, undefeated weeks in order to get Philadelphia back in the playoffs, in defense of their title, that he helped win a year prior.
Foles carried his magic into the postseason as the Eagles traveled to Soldier Field as underdogs. It seems the team thrives in that position as in every game last postseason, the Eagles were never favored to win. Foles led Philadelphia’s offense while the defense continued to step up. It came down to a tipped field goal and a “double doink,” as the Eagles somehow managed to continue the improbable run they have been on for the past two playoff cycles.
New Orleans didn’t have a game last week as they finished the season as the best team in the NFC, receiving the first overall seed and first round bye that comes with it. They enter this game well-rested and on the back of a season that saw them finish as the third highest scoring offense in the NFL. They also enter knowing they will be playing the friendly confines of New Orleans and the Superdome, where the Saints haven’t lost a home playoff game in over a decade.
It is certainly an uphill battle for Philadelphia but it is not a place the team hasn’t been before. With Nick Foles’ seeming inability to lose playoff games these past two years, this is far from a sure thing.
The Last Time We Met
It’s said that humiliation is a great motivator. If that’s the case, the Eagles will have no shortage of motivation today given what happened the last time the team played the Saints, in week 11 of the season. Philadelphia didn’t even stand a chance, losing by a score of 48-7. It was the team’s worse loss in two years and it was Carson Wentz’ worst loss in the NFL. Nothing went right for Philadelphia on offense or defense. Wentz had a season low 156 yards and the defense allowed Drew Brees anything he wanted. That resulted in a line of four touchdowns, 363 passing yards and a completion percentage of 73.3 for the New Orleans QB. It bears repeating, Philadelphia didn’t even stand a chance.
It is also said that past performances aren’t indicative of future ones and for the Eagles, a lot about their team has changed since then. The most obvious change is the one at QB, as Foles brings a different element to this team. It is really inexplicable in some ways, but the locker room plays for him. He is a true leader and he’s at his best when he’s faced with win-or-go home situations. As Eagles announcer Merrill Reese said after last week’s victory over the Chicago Bears , “If Reggie Jackson is Mr. October and rightfully so, Nick Foles should be Mr. December, January and February.”
Perhaps biased comment aside, Foles has been nearly unbeatable in the playoffs recently and that’s something that the Eagles will rely on when faced with the same tough Saints team that burned them earlier this year.
Beyond Foles however, the Eagles are playing better on all sides of the ball. Heading into the playoffs, the team was definitely one of the most dangerous in the NFL and they showed that last week. Philadelphia’s defense is much improved since allowing 48 points to Brees and company and their offense is better off too, notably because of the return of Darren Sproles. As important as Foles is to the offense, without a running game, the Eagles struggled this year. With Sproles back in play, the running game has returned as well and it has opened up the field for Foles to do what he does best.
So, this is not the same Eagles team that lost 48-7. However, it is the same Saints team and that’s not the most promising news for Philadelphia. Especially since they have to play them at home, which has always been New Orleans’ bread-and-butter, so much so people have referred to them as merely a dome team. That dome is the site of today’s game, so for the Saints that’s a moniker they certainly don’t mind carrying into this weekend. Especially since they are 14-2 in their last 16 and 5-0 in the playoffs when playing in the Superdome.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
The Eagles are marching into difficult territory as the Superdome is one of the toughest places for opponents to play and perhaps the absolute toughest for opponents in the postseason. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Saints are favored big, by eight points, by the sports betting website that accept bets from USA players. The Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots were all favored against the Eagles too, and Philly beat each one en route to winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
That’s the thing about magic though. Eventually, it runs its course. Without the benefit of being at home like the Eagles were last year, and having to play a team as tough as the Saints at home with a QB as good as Brees, the Foles magic will most likely run dry. That’s not to say the game won’t be close though. Philadelphia is much better than when they got blown out so they will no doubt be in this until the end, but don’t expect a double doink to save them this time. These are the Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Saints predictions for this preview, with betting picks:
- Take the Eagles +8pts @ best odds of -105 with Intertops. It is -110 with Bovada and BetOnline, though you could get +8.5pts @ -111 with Bookmaker, which is a tempting alternative to the pick.
- Looking at the total points betting line, go under 52pts @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops or Bookmaker. The only way the Eagles keep it close this time, is if they keep Brees off the scoreboard as much as possible.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.