The New Orleans Saints are on their travels to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and these two teams couldn’t be in more different positions (4.25pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on Fox).
The Saints are currently sitting at 10-2 and in first place in the NFC while the Eagles are 3-8-1 and in third place in the lowly NFC East. The Eagles are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and have turned to their rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts. This team does not have much to play for and are already looking ahead to next season.
The Saints need to win to stay ahead of the 9-3 Packers to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. So could the outcome be pretty straightforward? Here USAbetting gives our preview and New Orleans Saints vs Philadelphia Eagles predictions, with betting picks, in a bid to answer that question.
Rookie Quarterback Thrown to the Wolves
The decision by head coach Doug Pederson to turn to rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts this week was puzzling to say the least. Many Eagles’ fans have been calling for Carson Wentz to be benched in favor of Hurts, but the timing could not be worse. Pederson is throwing Hurts to the wolves this week.
The Saints are one of the best defenses in the NFL and they have success getting after the quarterback. The Eagles have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL as a result of several starters going down with injuries early on. They just lost another starting lineman after it was announced that Jason Peters would be having season-ending toe surgery.
Wentz was sacked a league high 50 times. The next closest was Russell Wilson who was sacked 40 times. Wentz also leads the league in interceptions with 15 in 12 games. A lot of the blame does fall on Wentz and his poor decision-making, but with such an inept offensive line he really had no chance to succeed. The Saints rank 3rd in the league and average 3.0 sacks per game. Hurts’ mobility should help some, but with an offensive line in shambles the Saints’ strong pass rush will cause havoc for the rookie quarterback.
The play calling by Doug Pederson has also been perplexing and a recipe for failure. Last week Philadelphia’s best weapon, Miles Sanders, only carried the ball 10 times and had zero targets out of the backfield. Sanders only has 39 targets in the passing game on the year. The lack of production from their best weapons and a lack of weapons overall put Wentz in an impossible position.
This is the terrible spot that rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts finds himself in this week. He will be making his first career start against a Saints’ defense that is second in the NFL in DVOA (defensive-value adjusted over average). New Orleans ranks 5th in the NFL in average points allowed per game (20.1) and over their last three games they have only given up 28 points combined. I can’t imagine how the Eagles will be able to move the ball and ultimately score against such a dominant defense. They rank 2nd in the NFL in average rushing yards allowed per game (76.1) and 4th in average passing yards allowed per game (212.8).
Over the last three games they have only allowed 156.7 passing yards on average per game, which is good for 1st in the NFL. This is arguably the most difficult defense to go up against and the Eagles have decided to have a rookie make his first start against them. This is the same Saints team that dismantled Tom Brady and the Buccaneers and held them to only three points in week 9.
New Orleans Saints vs Philadelphia Eagles Concluding Picks & Predictions
USAbetting will play the Saints as a touchdown road favorite and also the under. We feel strongly about both picks mainly due to how strong their defense is and the fact that they will be facing a rookie making his first career start.
I can only imagine how nervous Hurts will be when he sees that strong pass rush flying at him. The Saints are stout against both the run and the pass, which could be a disaster for Hurts. If the Eagles are unable to have any semblance of a running game, I can’t see a world where Hurts beats that secondary.
In garbage time last week Hurts was sacked three times, threw one touchdown, threw one interception and had a rating of 67.7 against a Packers’ defense that is far from dominant. The Eagles give up on average 4.4 sacks per game, which is worst in the league.
The line is currently sitting at Saints -7 and over/under 43 with the chief sportsbooks. I think that the Saints will comfortably cover and that the Eagles won’t be able to do nearly enough to help this game go over. I envision a rough day at the office and a rude welcoming to the NFL for the rookie quarterback. I see this being an easy win and cover for the Saints 30-10 and that is a more conservative prediction. I don’t think the Eagles will score a touchdown, but I wanted to be safe on the off chance they luck their way into one. So these are the Saints vs Eagles predictions for this preview: