Posted: January 9th, 2019 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »
Back in November, the 4-5 Eagles went down to New Orleans to take on the 8-1 Saints. It wasn’t much of a game. At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles had 15 yards. The Saints had 10 points. They went on to win the game 48-7.
Sometimes blowouts can be deceiving because of crazy turnovers or fluke plays. That wasn’t one of those times. That was a total butt-kicking.
The teams will meet again on Sunday. This time it is the postseason and things will be different.
Since that woeful day, the Eagles are 6-1 and one of the hottest teams in the league. The Saints went 4-2. To be fair, their loss in the season finale came with some backups on the field so that’s not a true indication of the team’s performance. Still, the huge blowouts and crazy games ended with the Eagles. The Saints were different down the stretch.
Drew Brees’ first 11 games vs. his last 4: pic.twitter.com/LXtUyBY3V6
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) January 8, 2019
Before we get too excited about the Saints struggling, we need to acknowledge that no team could continue at their early pace. In six of the first 10 games, the Saints scored 40 or more points. To put that in perspective, the Chiefs explosive offense had five games of 40 or more points for the whole season.
The Saints are no longer an amazing juggernaut, but they are still very good.
The Eagles are no longer mediocre. They are now a good team. I guess the real question is just how different are the teams from then to now.
The Eagles look worlds different to me. The offensive line is healthy and in a groove right now. Lane Johnson looks like the best RT in football, as he did last year. Jason Peters is playing like a man desperate to keep winning playoff games.
The D-line is improved. Tim Jernigan missed the first game. He’s now healthy and starting. Haloti started back in November, but wasn’t healthy so he made little impact. He is healthy now and really contributing. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett and Chris Long are in a groove.
Nigel Bradham is coming off his best game of the year. He looked like the Nigel of 2017. We’ve missed that guy.
The secondary actually has…stability. And even some…ability. That’s very different than the first meeting. Rasul Douglas is playing the best football of his young career. Cre’Von LeBlanc has found a home in the slot and is making a case to keep the job into the future. Avonte Maddox is playing well on the outside. The Bears did attack him with fakes and double-moves, but Maddox can learn from that.
Malcolm Jenkins is still his old self. Corey Graham has played better down the stretch. Having good players around him makes a difference. And Tre Sullivan actually looks like a solid role player. Jim Schwartz can use a Nickel or Dime package and feel good about it. He’s got competent DBs.
As for the Foles factor, I don’t know what to say. He was up and down against the Bears great defense, but made the key plays and won. Foles should be happy to see the Saints. They have a good defense, but nothing like the Bears.
Jim Schwartz made a great point in his press conference today. The first game really doesn’t mean anything. The score will be 0-0 on Sunday. The past is the past. The Saints might have confidence based on the first game, but the Eagles will have motivation. I’m not sure who that favors.
I’m really curious to see how this game plays out. The Eagles have beaten the Rams, Texans and Bears in recent weeks. The Eagles won’t be scared of anyone. The Saints had some ugly games late in the season and rested players in the finale. Can they flip the switch and get right back into Hot Team Mode?
We’ll find out a lot about both teams on Sunday.