Who Picked the Eagles: Week 5

Who's favored to win Sunday?

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

The Eagles have a high-stakes date with the New Orleans Saints set for Sunday afternoon. Here’s what national media think will happen when the two teams clash.

NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison believes the Eagles’ offense breaks free from the muck in a 37-17 victory.

Smelling an Eagles offensive explosion here. Usually if you smell anything bird-related, it’s time to hit the carwash. But in this case, it’s welcome news to Eagles fans, Sam Bradford fantasy owners and DeMarco Murray. Bradford hadn’t hit a deep ball until last week in Washington. Call it “helpful” that the Saints’ secondary is allowing opposing passers a fat 116.3 passer rating. (Yes, that’s dead last.)

Meanwhile, the New Orleans ground attack has been so scant that every game rests on Drew Brees, and his sore shoulder. On the road, against a desperate 1-3 team? Might be too much hill to climb, even for a Hall of Famer (which Brees certainly is).

Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks remains upbeat about the Birds, giving them a 31-22 win over New Orleans.

Drew Brees was herculean in the Saints’ win over Dallas, playing through his shoulder injury and keeping his team’s season alive with an overtime win. But we should not expect him to carry the entire offensive load for New Orleans each and every week. Can it be that less than two years ago these teams met in the playoffs in Philly, with the Saints prevailing?

The postseason seems so far out of reach for both of these puzzling teams right about now. For being offensive geniuses, Sean Payton and Chip Kelly have known their share of humblings in 2014–15. The Saints are about to endure one more, as the Eagles finally show a little life at home after not winning at The Linc since before Thanksgiving last season.

ESPN beat writers Phil Sheridan and Mike Triplett both pick the Eagles to top the Saints.

Triplett: The Eagles’ offensive struggles have been one of the league’s biggest surprises. But their up-tempo, zone-read scheme can still put a ton of stress on a young Saints defense that has been going through its own growing pains. New Orleans ranks 32nd in yards allowed per pass attempt (9.8) and has allowed 17 runs of 10-plus yards (30th) with only three takeaways and zero interceptions. The big plays need to swing the other way for them to win on the road. Eagles 27, Saints 24.

Sheridan: This is a must-win game for both teams. Sam Bradford found his deep passing touch last week. The Saints have given up 14 completions over 20 yards, sixth-most in the NFL. That combination spells Eagles victory. Eagles 28, Saints 20.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland takes the Saints, but gives Chip Kelly his ‘Marketer of the Year’ award through four games.

You know what? I’m still holding out hope. I wrote about Bradford’s seeming mental block about throwing deep last summer, saw the Rams flourish downfield without him around, and saw Bradford basically avoid throwing downfield like the plague through the first three games.

All of that changed last week when Bradford threw eight passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air against Washington after throwing just five such passes over the first three weeks combined. He was 0-for-5 on those passes the first three weeks, but against Washington he was 4-of-8 for 176 yards with two touchdowns on those throws.

It’s the first time he’s shown any propensity to throw deep in years, but I’m intrigued! Only Chip could make that happen.

Seven of eight members of the CBS Sports panel think the Eagles beat the Saints.

Over at SB Nation, seven of eight panelists also believe the Birds top Brees.