When the Eagles are on Offense:
If Vick can find the happy medium between playing conservative and playing recklessly, the Eagles offense could have a big night. They could not have scheduled a better opponent to kick start their offense against. The Saints pass defense is ranked 31st in the NFL allowing 304.6 yards per game. The Eagles offensive line will look to establish itself early and keep Vick clean. Vick has been sacked or put under duress nearly 33% of his passes this season, which leads the NFL and helps to explain the stagnant Eagles offense. Shockingly, the Saints passing defense is the strength of their defense as their run defense is ranked 32nd in the NFL allowing 170.1 yards per game on the ground. Shady McCoy, who has been contained on the ground during the Eagles losing streak, should figure to see his share of touches tonight to get him, and the rest of the offense, into a rhythm.
The Saints defense has allowed 500 yards of offense in each of their last two games, with Denver piling up 531 yards last week, and 400 yards of offense in every game so far this season. With the track record of Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid, it would not be surprising to see the Eagles take some shots downfield to Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin against a struggling New Orleans secondary. A problem the Eagles might run into while attacking the Saints defense is the noise. The Superdome is notorious for how loud it can get and, with the emotions of a nationally televised Monday Night Football game, tonight might be extra rowdy.
When the Saints are on Offense:
The Eagles are going to have to get more pressure on Brees this week that they were able to get against Matt Ryan last Sunday. Brees is one of the more cerebral quarterbacks in the game; he will be prepared knowing the holes in the Eagles defense and he reads the field better than anyone. Todd Bowles will have his hands full with the Eagles defense tonight if they cannot get pressure on Brees and he has time to scan the field. Wide receiver Marques Colston (6’4”) and tight end Jimmy Graham (6’7”) are the top targets for Brees. Graham has been limited with an ankle injury but is getting closer to 100%. It would not be shocking to see Graham get a lot of looks with safety Nate Allen questionable tonight. Colston always seems to find a way to get open and causes havoc given his good hands and size. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominqiue Rodgers-Cromartie are going to have to be ready to play from the get-go.
Special Teams and Prediction:
Saints kicker Garrett Hartley is 7-of-9 on field goal attempts. Sproles is their typical kick/punt return man so Travaris Cadet will have to step up in place of the injured Sproles.
This time last week I had the Eagles losing in an absolute beat down. Over the course of the week I started to get more optimism to the point yesterday where I actually thought they would win. After thinking about it harder this morning, I went back to the Saints winning the game.
It appears the key to beating the Saints is to keep their offense off the field. The easiest way to keep an opposing offense off the field is to run the ball and eat the clock. Running the ball against the Saints is the easiest thing you can do given the fact they rank dead last against the run. The game plan should revolve entirely around Shady McCoy but we know that won’t happen. If the Saints come out early and score on their first or second possession, the Eagles will go to the air again and again and again. I cannot see this offense having a balanced game plan.
In addition to the Eagles reluctance to running the ball, I think Drew Brees is salivating to attack the Eagles defense. The team looked dazed and confused against Matt Ryan last Sunday and you know Brees has been studying the Eagles. I think this one has the potential to be a shootout and, if that is the case, I don’t think the Eagles will be able to keep up with Brees.
Follow Steve on Twitter @SDolan3
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports