New Orleans Saints (11-5 SU, 8-8 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6 SU, 8-8) ATS)
NFL Football NFC Wildcard Week
Date and Time: Saturday January 4th, 2014. 8:30PM Eastern
Where: Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, P.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NO +2.5/Phil -2.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5
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The Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints
both took care of business last week with wins in week 17 that guaranteed
each team a playoff berth. The Saints blew out the Buccaneers 42-17 behind
a 4 touchdown performance from quarterback Drew Brees. Meanwhile the Eagles
went into Dallas and captured a tough 24-22 victory to capture the NFC East
Division. However it will still be a win or go home scenario again this
Saturday when the New Orleans Saints meet the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln
Financial Field in a NFC Wildcard showdown.
The Saints will enter Philadelphia as slight 2.5 point underdogs this week despite having a slightly better record at 11-5 SU on the season. One of the main concerns for New Orleans throughout the year has been their lackluster performances on the road. New Orleans was a perfect 8-0 inside the Superdome this season but just 3-5 on the road. Not only will the Saints be on the road again this week but they will also be playing in the elements this Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. Can New Orleans shake off the stigma that indoor teams play poorly outdoors in the playoffs or will that theory be validated yet again?
For Philadelphia, just making the playoffs can be viewed as instant success in Chip Kelly’s first season as head coach. However the Eagles have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL during the 2nd half of the season winning 7 of their final 8 games and it would be rather disappointing to see them knocked out so early. However a tough challenge awaits their arrival back in Philadelphia this Saturday. New Orleans has played as well as anyone against the pass this season holding opponents to just 194 yards per game (2nd in the NFL). The Saints defense matches up fairly well against Chip Kelly’s offense and it will be interesting to see if they can continue their offensive success.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has been brilliant since taking over behind center. Foles fell just short of the NFL season quarterback rating record but still lead the league with a 119.2 rating. Foles posted 27 touchdowns and just 2 picks for the entire year which is simply remarkable considering he was not even the starter at the beginning of the season. In fact, the vast majority of the success surrounding the Eagles offense can be attributed to Foles and running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy captured the NFL rushing title this season with 1,607 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. If the Saints’ secondary continues to play well, McCoy could easily be the make or break player for the Eagles offense this weekend.
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I expect nothing less than a stellar performance from McCoy again this week but I also still believe the match-up advantages favor the Saints. I already mentioned that the Saints 2nd best pass defense will be relied upon heavily against the Eagles offense. However the Saints should have an equal size advantage when quarterback Drew Brees takes the field. Brees has averaged 323 yards (2nd in NFL) per game this season and has thrown 39 touchdowns with 12 picks. Sure New Orleans favors their passing attack more than most teams behind the arm of Brees’ but that is ultimately important this week against an Eagles defense that ranks dead last against the pass giving up 290 yards per game. Tight end Jimmy Graham has been a nightmare for defenses all season. Now Graham, Marques Colston, and Kenny Stills will all be given the opportunity to have big performances while exploiting the biggest weakness of the Philadelphia defense.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I just do not see how the Eagles can compensate for to the mismatches on both sides of the ball. Brees will pick apart the Eagles secondary and Saints’ defense will do enough to pull out the victory. Take New Orleans +2.5