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NFL playoff picks: Rounding up the experts’ predictions for divisional round matchup between Eagles-Saints

NFL playoff picks: Rounding up the experts' predictions for divisional round matchup between Eagles-Saints

The Eagles, who it seems like have been enjoying do-or-die video games for the final two months, will as soon as once more put all of it on the line on Sunday once they journey to New Orleans for a rematch towards the Saints, who’re coming off a first-round bye and have already blown out the Birds as soon as this season, a 48-7 drubbing in Week 11. 

So the Birds do not stand an opportunity, proper? Relies upon who you ask…

We have damaged down the accidents, identified the key matchups on each side of the ball, and provided our personal predictions for this one. Now, as we do each week, it is time to see how the numerous specialists, each native and nationwide, assume Sunday’s divisional round matchup in New Orleans goes to play out.

•  PhillyVoice employees: Three of our 5 writers are taking the Saints to carry off the Eagles, together with Jimmy Kempski. And whereas Jimmy thinks the Saints win, he additionally provided up 10 the reason why the Birds are in higher form than the final time they visited New Orleans. It is about as constructive as a decide to lose could be.

  1. Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense cooled off close to the finish of the common season, as Brees had a QB score of 84.7 in his final 4 video games. In his first 11 video games, he had a 127.three QB score, on the power of 29 TDs vs. 2 INTs. The Saints averaged 20.three factors per recreation in these 4 “bad Brees” video games, once they had been averaging 37.2 factors per recreation in the earlier 11 video games.
  2. 5 nicked-up Saints offensive linemen have been restricted in follow this week. Even when all of them play, will they be 100 %?
  3. The Eagles’ offense was in all probability at its low level in the season once they confronted the Saints the first time round. Since then, the offensive line has gotten more healthy, and the offense generally is simply enjoying higher.
  4. The Eagles have been pressured to play Chandon Sullivan, DeVante Bausby, and an clearly injured Sidney Jones in that recreation, and that went about as you’d anticipate. Since then, Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, and Cre’Von LeBlanc have actually solidified the Eagles’ secondary.
  5. The Eagles’ run protection was getting gashed at the time, however they’ve since gotten more healthy alongside the defensive position and at linebacker. The Eagles’ run protection is enjoying much better, as they’ve allowed fewer than 2.5 dashing yards per try and operating backs over the final 4 video games.
  6. Malcolm Jenkins, Nigel Bradham, and LeBlanc mixed to do an amazing job towards Tarik Cohen final Sunday, which ought to bode nicely for their probabilities of containing an analogous participant in Alvin Kamara.
  7. The Saints’ move protection is not excellent, whereas the Eagles’ passing offense has taken off at occasions in current weeks. It by no means received its sea legs in New Orleans in November after the staff fell behind early, however they need to be capable of make performs this weekend.
  8. The Saints have not performed a significant recreation since Week 16, and even then they weren’t beneath a lot strain. It is value noting that over the final 11 years (that is not an arbitrary cut-off level — simply belief me there), groups that had residence subject benefit all through the playoffs and rested starters Week 17 have a Four-6 report of their first recreation again in the playoffs.
  9. Revenge. The Saints most undoubtedly ran up the rating on the Eagles Week 11, when in the fourth quarter of a recreation that was a 38-7 blowout already, they went for it on 4th and 6, with Brees hitting Kamara on a deep ball for a landing. That prompted Jenkins to flip Sean Payton the chook. The Eagles have performed cool on that each one week, however they positive as hell keep in mind being disrespected that day.
  10. Mojo. When you consider in that sort of factor, the Eagles have it at the second. The Saints? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

•  ESPN employees: Every of their 9 specialists picked the Saints. Prepare, as a result of I’ve a sense that is going to be quite a bit like the final time these groups met, at the very least when it comes to what number of are choosing Philly.

•  Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Saints 27, Eagles 24

The Eagles are enjoying their greatest ball of the yr and are Four-Zero since Foles got here in for the injured Carson Wentz. The protection was gashed for 546 yards and 48 factors by New Orleans in Week 11, however it has since stabilized, yielding 15 factors complete over the previous two video games. This will probably be a a lot nearer recreation, however the home-field benefit the Superdome offers will come into play and tilt the recreation the Saints’ approach. 

•  Mike Triplett, ESPN.com: Saints 30, Eagles 20

In fact I do not anticipate one other 48-7 rout like their final assembly two months in the past, however the Saints do have quite a bit going of their favor as the No. 1 seed. Most significantly, their banged-up offensive line has had time to relaxation, which ought to assist their offense get again on monitor and assist nullify Philly’s terrific entrance 4. New Orleans’ receiving corps can also be more healthy with Ted Ginn Jr. coming again late in the season, and a refreshed Alvin Kamara ought to play an enormous half in the passing recreation. Final however not least, the Saints are at house, the place they’ve averaged 40 factors per recreation in the previous 5 video games that Brees performed. The Saints are 5-Zero in the Superdome in the playoffs throughout the Sean Payton-Brees period.

•  Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Saints 28, Eagles 27

When these two groups confronted off in New Orleans two months in the past, the Eagles performed their worst recreation in current reminiscence, getting blown out of the Superdome, 48-7. This rematch seems like once you failed freshman geology in school, then took it once more as a junior to expunge it out of your GPA. (Not that I did that or something.) In accordance with all the pundits lurking on the market in the soccer ether, Nick Foles is the distinction between then and now. Does the lanky QB make tackles or cowl RBs out of the backfield? No. However you’ll be able to’t dismiss the undeniable fact that Jim Schwartz’s guys are competing like they’ve one thing to compete for, enjoying each down with a way of urgency. This may be seen on professional soccer’s most pressing down: The Eagles have allowed opponents to transform simply 12 of their 47 third-down makes an attempt over the final 4 video games (which, luckily for Foles, occurs to be the time interval when he is retaken the reins). From an expanded view, Philadelphia has allowed 18.9 factors per recreation since getting decimated in New Orleans again in Week 11. The Eagles additionally personal a whopping plus-10 sack differential throughout this span. For each sack, there’s strain. And each hit on the QB rattles him just a little extra. The Eagles are making life rather more troublesome for opposing passers than their very own. 

So, since Philly was destroyed handily in the Huge Straightforward, the Saints have simply sat on their butts, proper? Not precisely. Sean Payton has stored his group motivated, even when issues have not gone swimmingly (SEE: that Thursday nighter in Dallas). Beneath the radar, nevertheless, is the proven fact that New Orleans has brandished its personal model of championship protection. From Week 10 to Week 16, Dennis Allen’s unit allowed simply 14.6 factors per recreation. Cherry-picking stats? No. In Week 17, Payton rested starters in a blowout loss to the Panthers. The earlier seven video games, his staff was preventing for the proper to host this very recreation I’m writing about. Put one other method: Folesmania has by some means diminished the accomplishments of the prime workforce in soccer — particularly on the subject of a protection that, like the Eagles, spun the 2018 narrative on its axis after permitting 48 factors to a red-and-pewter LSD journey in September. For all the matchup issues Drew Brees and his offensive mates current, it is the less-considered aspect of the ball that delivers the W. Not as a result of Foles will probably be overcome by the second or the crowd noise, however as a result of the Saints’ protection will not be out on the subject all recreation. Payton will run the ball, in contrast to Philadelphia’s opponent final week.

•  CBSSports.com employees: All eight of their specialists are choosing the Eagles … to lose.

MORE: Eagles-Saints predictions, odds and broadcast information

•  OddsShark: Their pc mannequin is predicting a six-point loss for the Eagles, which is a lot better than what they have been saying main up to Week 11.

•  Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 20, Saints 17

Few believed the Eagles might beat the Bears in Chicago. (I did.) Fewer consider the Eagles can beat the Saints in New Orleans. I do. Coupling the bye week with a lackluster Week 17 recreation towards the Panthers, and it’ll have been a very long time since the Saints performed a significant recreation. The Eagles have been enjoying significant video games week after week after week. The street group has improved tremendously since dropping 48-7 in the Superdome, and the Saints peaked throughout round one. So push the chips into the center of the desk, hope the Eagles hold it shut, rely on slightly magic late in the recreation, and put together for the largest debate of the offseason relating to whether or not the Eagles ought to maintain Nick Foles or Carson Wentz.

•  Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Saints 31, Eagles 17

When these groups met in the common season, the Saints gained in a 48-7 beatdown. That was the second-biggest margin of victory in the NFL throughout the 2018 season, second solely to the Ravens destroying the Nathan Peterman-led Payments in Week One. If Nick Foles can lead the Eagles to a win over the Saints after the similar opponent dominated Carson Wentz in the common season, it’s going to result in elevated calls to make Foles, not Wentz, the Eagles’ franchise quarterback. Thankfully for the Saints (and for Wentz), I don’t see that taking place. Drew Brees ought to have an enormous day towards the Eagles’ protection, and though the Saints aren’t going to win by 41 once more, they need to win by a wholesome margin.

•  Bleacher Report, NFL employees: All three of their specialists are choosing the Eagles to lose by double digits. Ouch.

•  SBNation employees: 5 of their six writers are choosing the Saints over the Eagles.

•  Bleeding Inexperienced Nation employees: Six of their seven writers are choosing the Birds to win. 

•  Philly.com employees: Three of their 4 specialists are choosing the Saints.

MORE: ‘The Philly Godfather’: Sensible cash likes Eagles to cowl and extra

•  NJ.com employees: It is almost a fair cut up, with three of their seven writers taking the Birds over the Saints, together with Eagles beat author Zack Rosenblatt.

Regardless of all of the proof to the opposite, I am going with my intestine. There’s one thing particular about this Eagles group, the chemistry, the locker room dynamic and aura of Foles. Proper now, this feels extra like the group that gained the Tremendous Bowl a yr in the past greater than it has this complete season. It is a group clicking in all three phases, even when it took a sloppy win over the Chicago Bears to advance. 

The Saints are higher. The Eagles nonetheless, one way or the other, will pull it off.

PICK: Eagles 31, Saints 28

•  Tadd Haislop, Sporting Information: Saints 31, Eagles 13

To recommend this recreation will play out the similar method it did in November, when these groups met in New Orleans, can be ludicrous. A rating of 48-7 in an NFL recreation is the definition of a fluke; that sort of expertise hole between two given groups on this league merely doesn’t exist. Every part went proper for the Saints that day, and nearly the whole lot went flawed for the Eagles.

So perhaps New Orleans will not blow out Philadelphia in the divisional playoffs, however the Saints are heavy favorites for good causes.

Earlier than the season, SN picked the Saints to win Tremendous Bowl 53 on the foundation of their full roster. The offense is loaded. The protection is stacked. The particular groups are sound. And, oh yeah, the QB is the NFL’s all-time passing yards chief. The obvious magic of a Foles-led Eagles workforce in the postseason can solely take them thus far.

The Saints, particularly at residence, are just too good.

•  Vinny Iyer, Sporting Information: Saints 33, Eagles 20

The Eagles managed a street victory towards a great defensive staff in Chicago. They might want to rating much more factors to do the similar in New Orleans. Foles will as soon as once more be referred to as upon to make each clutch move play in a one-dimensional offense, as Philadelphia will maintain struggling to run the ball with former Saint Darren Sproles and others.

Brees and the Saints will go after huge move performs to construct a big lead, they usually can shut the recreation with loads of efficient touches for Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. The Saints have a robust inside-outside cross rush to get after Foles, and their protection is constructed to decelerate his prime two targets, Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz.

The Saints are higher rested and higher balanced, they usually play their greatest when it counts in the Superdome. They keep in mind the heartbreak of the “Minneapolis Miracle” in the divisional playoff street loss final season and don’t need that very same feeling of disappointment with a a lot better general staff this season.

Brees and Sean Payton gained’t be denied as they be sure Foles and Doug Pederson fall two steps in need of their quest to repeat.

RELATED: Security Blitz with Malcolm Jenkins: This Eagles group is totally different than final time we performed Saints

Comply with Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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