Three-And-Out: Eagles-Saints Predictions

mccoyjackson_940

Player I’ll be watching:

McManus: Fletcher Cox.


The Eagles need to find a way to generate pressure on Drew Brees and if it comes from the interior, all the better. Cox leads the team with 21 quarterback hurries on the season (Trent Cole is second with 15). The more disruptive he is, the fewer opportunities Brees will have to operate in a clean pocket and follow through on his throws.

The second-year lineman has his work cut out for him, as the Saints boast two Pro Bowl guards in Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans. But this is the time when you need your top-end players to step up.

Kapadia: DeSean Jackson.

Remember him? Jackson set career highs this season with 82 catches and 1,332 yards. He averaged 16.2 yards per reception and scored nine times.

But after a career day against the Vikings, Jackson managed just 57 yards in the last two games combined.

Saturday night would be an excellent time to get him going again. The Saints are without two key cogs in their secondary: cornerback Jabari Greer suffered a season-ending knee injury in mid-November, and rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro hurt his ankle in Week 16. The Saints only allowed 40 pass plays of 20+ yards all season, fourth-fewest. The Eagles led the league with 80.

Even if Jackson doesn't get over the top, he needs plenty of touches. Kelly has done a brilliant job of scheming up matchups for No. 10 all season. Look for that to continue vs. New Orleans.

Prop bet of the week:

Receiving yards for Jimmy Graham - 75.9. Whaddya got?

McManus: I'll go over here.

Graham will be all over the place. He'll line up as a traditional tight end, in the slot, out wide, and maybe even in the backfield. Multiple Eagles defenders -- from Mychal Kendricks to Brandon Boykin to Cary Williams to Bradley Fletcher -- are likely to get a turn covering him.

Brees targeted Graham 144 times during the regular season -- that's 34 more looks than he gave his second-favorite receiving option, Marques Colston. In a hostile environment with their season on the line, there's a good chance Brees goes to his security blanket frequently. Though the Eagles will be focusing much of their defensive efforts on slowing down the 6-7, 265-pound tight end, that is easier said than done.

Kapadia: Graham averaged 75.9 during the regular season, but it may surprise you that he hasn't gone over that number in the last five games. Since Dec. 2, Graham has averaged 53.8 yards per game. Of course, he still found the end zone five times during that stretch.

There's not a "Graham Stopper" on this roster. No linebacker or safety matches up well with him. You could try a cornerback like Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher, but 42 of Graham's catches this year have come from the slot, per Pro Football Focus. And those guys haven't played inside all season. You could try Brandon Boykin, but he's giving up 10 inches.

Look for Billy Davis to try to mix up coverages and use Trent Cole/Connor Barwin to jam Graham at the line of scrimmage whenever possible before passing him off to Kendricks, Boykin, Nate Allen or someone else.

I can't say this is the most confident I've ever been in a prediction, but I'll say he goes slightly under the 75.9 number.

Predictions:

McManus: Eagles 28, Saints 20

The Saints' defense is allowing 4.6 yards/rushing attempt, which is the fourth-worst mark in the league. The Eagles, meanwhile, have the game's most productive back in LeSean McCoy, who heads a rushing attack that finished the regular season tops in the NFL (160.4 yards/game). An efficient ground game coupled with the up-tempo attack should be enough to prevent Rob Ryan from dialing up as many exotic blitzes as he'd like.

The defense has a big challenge ahead, but could be aided by the conditions. Brees' completion rate dropped 11 percent when he played outdoors this season. That's a pretty significant dip. If Brees shows his human side, the Eagles should have a couple opportunities to generate takeaways.

New Orleans has been shaky on the road and the Eagles are coming in hot and healthy. I say they advance.

Kapadia: Eagles 27, Saints 26

To me, this is the ultimate coin-flip game. I know what Brees' numbers are outside. I also know that there were too many blown assignments/guys getting beat last week against Kyle Orton and the Cowboys.

The Saints are just the type of offense that should match up well against Davis. Brees is not going to be fooled by different looks, he's efficient and accurate, and he has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. He might not be "Superdome Brees" but he's' still going to move the football against this defense.

Having said that, I expect the Eagles to be able to move the football as well. Even last week, when the offense sputtered in the second half, they still put up 24 points and were half-a-yard from making that 31. The Saints' secondary is a little banged-up, and New Orleans has not been stout against the run.

This one comes down to the fourth quarter, but the Eagles find a way to squeak out a win like they've done on several occasions this season.

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  • Joe from Easton

    We need to put this game on the back of our RB’s and those hogs up front. I’d be fine with Foles having less than 25 pass attempts and a modest TD or two. This game isn’t about Foles proving he’s the next whoever, this is about match-ups and our run game against their run D is a match up we can exploit. If we just pound the rock up front early and often we will be fine. If we have a few three and outs because Brad Smith is on the field and we fall behind then our goose is cooked. That won’t happen though. Chip is going to take a page out of Lombardi’s book tomorrow and just smash the rock down their throats! 31-23 Eagles.

    • Will

      I agree all things are pretty even with the 2 teams except we have the edge in rushing. McCoy needs to put this team on his back in this one and carve out his legacy. The rushing game should open up the passing game for the Birds. Trent Cole/ Brandon Graham should get some sacks/turnovers in this game. The 12th man should be Loud and Proud making Brees audibles harder.The cold weather should take it’s toll as well. I like the Eagles 31-28 in this one and the over for Graham he gets his catches in this one…

      • Joe from Easton

        I’m okay with Graham getting 100 and a TD…he just can’t beat us alone with a 200 and 2 or 3 TD kind of performance. If we can limit him to one TD and stop him on some 3rd down conversions (they’ll be going to him) then I think we can handle their offense. The key really starts and stops with containing Graham.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      Well said.

  • Tikkit

    Desean has been running that ghost motion to clear other receivers two games in a row. Maybe this is the game where that motion is the play for Desean. Also, the wheel route out the backfield was open several times in the Dallas game but the play seemed to be run to the other side. Light that puppy up again.
    I believe that any score under 28 by the Saints is going to be an Eagles win. If the Saints score in the 35 range, I think we lose the game.
    Eagles 31-Saints 24

    • Dan P

      I didn’t rewatch the film, so maybe there was a reason, but it looked like DeSean was open in the flat several times in the Dallas game and Foles did not get him the ball.

      • Dr Rick

        You are right. Folsey felt the Dallas pressure and got happy feet and had missed reads. You can bet NOLA will scout that big time. I am betting the O worked on that all week and Foles will burn the pressure and the comments about D-Jax are good, he is ready for a bust out week. Foles steps up and D-Jax busts out.

        • Dan P

          Yea, Chip’s obviously much smarter than me on these type of things, so I’m guessing they don’t miss those checkdowns this week.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Mathis named starting Guard to All-Pro team. He got his recognition everyone, rest assured.

    Screw the pro bowl!!!

    • Dominik

      Amen! I’m happy for Peters to get in, but Mathis deserved it more. When you look at some of the Guards voted in, it just wasn’t right.

    • theycallmerob

      Ha, about to post that, glad I saw yours first!

      I also liked that Shady got 48 out of 50 votes, but seriously? What 2 numbnuts didn’t vote for him?
      Actually, just one is a mystery. I’m sure Prisco was the other.

      • Rambler

        I was just about to say that… how on earth are there 2 voters (yet alone 1) that think any running back performed better than Shady this year? Makes absolutely no sense.

        • theycallmerob

          It would have meant someone gave Charles and Peterson their votes. Does Graziano get one, or maybe Easterbrook? that would explain the other #hater

          [addendum] Others I’m happy to see get their props- Wilkerson, Casey, David, and Burfict.
          Also impressed with Josh Gordon being 1st team all-pro with Weeden and Campbell, no RB, and 4 games missed due to SUSP

          Looking ahead to next year….Byrd and TJ Ward both 2nd team all-pro S.

          • Bdawkbdawk

            Charles was ridiculously good and 19 touchdowns is a pretty gaudy number. I’m more impressed by Shady and I think that Td numbers are inconsistent year to year and not always good indicators of a RB’s success, but I can understand why a person or two went with Charles.

          • Bdawkbdawk

            Actually I’m wrong. It seems as if Charles made it as well. Sorry about that.

          • Rambler

            When you look at it that way, I guess I can see how Charles will maybe garner a vote. I would be surprised/disgusted if Easterbrook had a vote, as he is more concerned with being a political know-it-all.

          • BlindChow

            Graziano had McCoy as #2 on his MVP list, so I’m pretty sure he would have voted for him.

          • nicksaenz1

            Did he miss 4? Thought it was just the first 2.

          • Mike Calabrese

            I grew up in Buffalo, NY. My father is from Philly and that’s how have always been life long Eagles fan. Anyways only mentioned that bc of the Byrd thing. I no longer live in Buffalo, but still speak to a ton of friends there that are die hard Bills fans. I talked to them about Byrd and there all saying that most likely the Bills going to franchise Byrd next year. After the injury he came on strong and played well under new defense. This will be 2nd time franchise so will go up, not sure exact difference, but like 5-10% more. Now they are saying that they will franchise and possibly trade him , but def franchise so don’t loose for nothing, Cause a team tries to franchise guy the 3rd time & the cost goes up ridiculous.

            Anyways I want Byrd as much as anyone else and would think if got on market Eagles would be a viable landing spot. Just have seen many posts about Byrd and next season on the site & not sure if many posters knew that there is a strong chance gets franchised again.

        • Dr Rick

          It’s simple. It’s because the Eagles’ offense is a gimmicky college offense and Shady is just a system RB.

      • Dan P

        Clayton didn’t vote for Shady, he went with Charles. I really don’t get how anyone can make that call, Shady was much more productive. Even though Charles has more rec yards, he also has way more rec targets and did less per target than Shady.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Florio? Possibly Easterbrook?
        Jaws.
        edit: saw below

    • Roasty

      The pro bowl is a scam, I thought there was a ton of terrible snubs and players that didn’t deserve to get in. The pro bowl has been sputtering for years and they want the biggest names possible for money, period. Very glad Mathis got his recognition, he has been a top 2 guard for the past 3 years.

    • BleedGreenJames

      Hell yeah, if I’m a player I’d rather take “1st Team All-Pro” to the negotiating table. I’m really happy for him and Peters, what a beast to come back from an achilles tendon that he tore twice, in a new, more strenuous offensive system. No doubt the premier LT in the game.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Great point ya, and I bet Mathis knew that all along. That All-Pro is what matters, everyone, including the Eagles FO, know how stupid and misguided the pro bowl is.

  • Tom w

    Trent cole … Need to get pressure and sacks w front 3 or 4 And our best Trent is matching up w a raw rookie from a small college w two career starts. Greg hardy owned him two weeks ago. Trent is fresh and has come up big against great qbs w big early plays against cards and bears. Watch the Trent cole comments on espn. It’s a rookie he said. A rookie he said again. He is going to do everything to get at this kid. And Trent never takes a play off. If cole can get a sack or force a turnover or force a nonstop double team, that limits their offense.

    Per chase Stuart, dome teams playing outside under 40 degrees in playoffs are an abysmal 3-26. That’s a 90 percent loss rate. More so than Brees and the offense, the saints defense plays much worse outside … Alotta that is the lack of the deafening noise level to throw off the timing and audibles of the offense. Plus they get less leads to play with.

    Saints defense has major holes in the secondary and coverage liabilities at least 2 secondary spots and two lbs spots. They are bad against the run as well so I don’t see how we don’t constantly capitalize on this defense and atleast score 30.

    Finally foles has played great against the Blitz and saints blitz like crazy to get to the qb. I see our wrs and tes making big plays and shady on screens etc. We haven’t even talked about the running game which saints haven’t stopped all year. They get leads so teams give up running. Except on the road, where the saints can’t get on a roll and feed off the crowd. Much like the panthers and Seahawks and rams, we will run all game long all 4 quarters and put up consistent points and keep their defense off balance. Saints have no running game to speak and Pierre is dinged up, making them one dimensional. Best thing we can hope for.

    Make Brees beat us slowly down the field and be opportunistic on defense and in the red zone. Limit big plays like we have last 10 games. Much better defense than played against broncos and chargers and chiefs. Limit the damage.

    O yea. They got a new kicker who isn’t so go outside 40 yds. That’s huge in a close game and in bad weather.

    Birds 34-24.

  • aub32

    I think the two things to watch most in this game will be Kendricks and officiating. If anyone watched the CAR v. NO game they will recall that LK was all over the field. Now Kendricks is no LK, but he will need to be able to get to and tackle the short dump offs. NO O line has struggled recently and Brees has had to look to get the ball out a lot sooner. Kendricks’ athleticism can be key here.

    I brought officiating because that was also key in the Pnathers victory over NO. The LBs were all over Graham. Yet the officials threw hardly any flags. B. Davis has been preaching all year to play however the refs allow. Hopefully the refs won’t mind us being a little handsy with Graham.

    • theycallmerob

      Hard to gauge what Kendricks’ responsibilities will be, may be called more on a-gap blitzes or seam coverage than straight pursuit. But he’s been an absolute playmaker last few weeks, and Thomas is hurt for NO.

      Apples and Oranges with the LK thing, the CAR 43 and LK’s responsibilities are very different from PHI and MK. Plus, that was Armstead’s first start, and the entire NO offense suffered (Hardy alone collected 3 sacks). NO destroyed him and the LBs in their big win in NO

      • aub32

        I’m not saying Kendricks has to be LK, but they both play ILB. They both will have to do similar things. LK was beyond extraodinary in pursuit. Kendricks will need to be good there as well.

        Thomas is hurt, but they still have Sproles, who can be dangerous on screens and dump offs. I don’t fear Ingram, since he’s more their power guy.

        Did Armstead look much better in TB? He’s still a wet behind the ears rook. The playoff atmosphere and Cole’s relentless nature may prove to be too much for the young pup.

        • theycallmerob

          He really only had to play about 1 qtr in that game, NO jumped out to a lead and just dominated. Doubt a losing team, quitting on its lame duck coach, put forth the best effort. And talent isn’t up to CAR anyway.
          Cole and Cox have to destroy that side of the line.

  • Sig

    The thing that troubles me the most is NO ability to not turn it over. The Eagles win when we generate extra opportunities on offense, and do not allow the opposing offense to slowly move the ball down the field. Drew Brees is very good at shot intermediate passing, and then hitting on the big play.

    Eagles are going to need to play their best game of the season to advance to Carolina.

    Here’s to trying to keep busy until 8:10 tomorrow night.

    Fly Eagles Fly!!!!!

  • jabostick

    I think the start of the game is going to be important in dictating how the game is played. So I hope we really
    hammer the Saints D with a quick pace to start. I got the sense from hearing
    some opposing players over the season, it’s something that has to be played
    against (not practiced against), so it is one tangible advantage we could
    exploit, at least early on.

    Combine an uncomfortable weather situation with a relatively new way of playing and maybe we could get them on their heels and off their game plan a bit

    • EaglePete

      yup, totally agree, they have to stay on pace or ahead in this game or it could be trouble. Ive been posting that same thing lately. My biggest fear is getting behind early and letting them get their confidence. I still dont trust this D that much, they can be exposed to a high powered offense. Hope the weather and Brees being tentative in first half can help. Hes got behing early in some of the road games, Rams being the big one with 2 turnovers early. Hope thats in his head. They lost 2 really close games away also against quality teams so not really buying into that dome away team stat too much.

      Im curious if Tim or Sheil have ever not picked the Eagles in a big game?

      • jabostick

        It wasn’t necessarily a big game because of potential implications of the DAL-WAS game before it, but they both picked against Philly in the CHI game, I think.

        But yeah, they’re rightful believers along with us (or they know not to get on some commenters bad side haha)

  • Sig

    Is it just me or does Chip Kelly always defer when he wins the toss?

    I think that has a lot more to do with getting the ball on offense to start the second half.

    I’m sure there is a lot more to it. I would be interested to know more about his thoughts on kicking off to start vs receiving.

    • Sven

      I suppose is always better to get your defense on the field first as they are all fresh and ready to go. The offense can dictate the pace as and when they want.

      • Sig

        It is also very demoralizing to send the defense out first and make a team go three and out, followed by a quick score.

        • UKEagle99

          He switched it up part way through the season.

  • TNA

    After watching the NO-CAR game, I’m hopeful that PHI can play as well as that CAR defense. The CAR DBs made several great pass defenses against the long ball when Brees wasn’t being sacked or hurried, forced Brees to check down, and stayed on top of Sproles or whoever the flat pass/screen was going to. CAR is a really fast defense and they played really disciplined defense in the second level by staying in passing lanes and forcing Brees to throw over players or into tight windows. Don’t think PHI has the talent to execute that kind of defense, but the PHI secondary generally matches up well with the NO WRs (taller, but not necessarily explosive WRs), but obviously Graham is a huge challenge that I don’t think PHI really has an answer for unless they execute whatever scheme really well.

  • TNA

    There should be a distinction on the kind of blitzes NO runs. They don’t pass blitz a lot. But they run blitz quite a bit. Execution of play-action will be crucial.

  • knighn

    F*** Da Saints.

    • Michael Deen

      I had no idea that chick was so smoking…

      • UKEagle99

        After seeing that last pic I’m waiting to see the players come out of the tunnel >_<

      • knighn

        There are plenty of Eagles fans that are hotter. Hopefully some will show the Saints the same kind of brotherly love…

  • Sven

    How much would be the bounty on Shady ?
    Too soon ?

    • EaglePete

      ahhh yes havent heard any bounty talk this week, Im surprised.

    • Maggie

      Hmmm.

    • Dr Rick

      ROFL

  • Jason

    Maybe it’s just me Sheil, but I’d rather have a win and 30 Yards from Jackson then a career day and a loss. Obviously, there isn’t necessarily a correlation. But the Bears game shows us we don’t need Jackson like say the Lions need Calvin.

  • knighn

    In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina…

    • aub32

      If we beat the Saints, I will be at that game.

      • knighn

        Represent!

        My full thought:
        The Eagles beat the Saints.
        The 49ers or Packers beat the Seahawks.
        The Eagles beat the Panthers.
        The Eagles host 49ers or Packers at the Linc for the Conference Championship… and win.
        The Eagles, well suited to play in the Cold, play and win the only cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl in the history of the Super Bowl.

        Since that all doesn’t fit into song as well:
        I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind…

        • aub32

          LMAO. I think SF beats GB and then beats SEA. I don’t know if we can beat SF. They are the most dangerous team in my mind. They can run, pass, defend, and have decent STs. Their offense has been consistent since Crabtree returned.

          • GEAGLE

            Man, if we beat Dallas, the saints 3 hall of famers, coach,QB,TE, and then go on the road to beat a NASTY panthers defense while getting good practice for Kapernick against Mobile Cam newton…then we will have grown so much that I would fear NO ONE! Lol

            We have the communication method and loud noise training to have a chance at not folding in Seatle..Chip has beaten Pete Carroll before. And they are weak at offensive tackle. Chip has also beaten Harbaugh. What I would like about going into those match ups is those teams are extremely reliant on their run game, and our defense has consistently been like Fort Knox for over two months…even when we had let down games, we still shut down backs and made most teams abandon the run early…that combined with us having the lead and teams playing from behind, as well as our defense being on the field longer then anyone is why our passing stats look worst then they really are…along with being weighed down by a terrible month of September…

        • Maggie

          I’ve been playing Philadelphia soul in my headset for the last 40 years. It would be almost impossible to switch to another town, never mind another state. However, I WAS once married to someone who’s last name was Newton! ;-)

          • Andy124

            Sir Isaac? (friendly age joke. ducks in-coming heavy object hurled at head).

          • Maggie

            No heavy objects. Old Isaac seems to have been an original thinker and a Scotsman besides. Think Vikings, caber tossing and kilts, lol. Although he does seem to have been fond of sitting under trees and letting fruit fall on him! Or perhaps he was like many older men, who seem to lack …mmm…energy. (friendly age joke, etc.)

          • Andy124

            caber tossing. So that’s what that’s called. I’ve seen it on tv. Never knew what it was called until I just googled it.

          • Maggie

            I had a grandmother from Glasgow. And a great-great-great from Aberdeenshire, where those nasty Vikings used to contribute to the gene pool.

    • Pennguino

      Great Song… Had to listen to it.

      • knighn

        Random Thought: I occasionally will listen to the Cable music channels. They typically show pictures of the artists while they play their songs. For some reason, one of the pictures of James Taylor they have in heaviest rotation is one from the 70s where he had long hair and facial hair and he had this look on his face that looked…. well… kind of psycho!
        Really, even though I remember that he actually had hair at one point in his life, I could not picture the mellow James Taylor ever looking Psycho! You know the people in charge of selecting the pictures were just having some fun with that choice.

        • Maggie

          I think LSD may have been closer to the mark.

        • KobraKai7474

          For the record, James Taylor DID spend time in an insane asylum (which is what they called mental hospitals back in the day) so looking “kind of psycho” might not be far from reality.

          • knighn

            Never knew that! You learn something new from Eagles fans every day! Seems like that stay might have helped him. He’s been pretty mellow since then!

        • KobraKai7474

          …or as Homer Simpson describes him, “former president, James Taylor”.

  • Mikeq

    I think the quality of the New Orleans kicker (and Henery for that matter) is one of the biggest things to watch for- as dull as that may sound. There is nothing more deflating than moving the ball well down the field, stalling near the red zone then your kicker missing the FG attempt. Eagles D has been playing bend-don’t-break all season, and playing it pretty well. Graham an experienced NFL kicker, but was unemployed when December started and Linc a tricky place to kick. In an expected tight game, kicker-play (if that’s a word) could be difference.

  • Token

    Im not sure Sheil has picked a game all year that wasnt a one point coin flip game. Come on Sheil show some conviction!

  • GEAGLE

    Call me crazy, but I’m telling you that Ertz and Celek will combine for a bigger game then Graham

  • GEAGLE

    Eagles 30 -Saints 20