Friday, October 13, 2006

Game 6 Preview

philadelphia eagles at new orleans saints

i think this would set up to be a classic let down game... *if* the giants game hadn't ended up in a loss. since the eagles already blew one just a few games ago, i don't see a letdown here. the saints are headed in the right direction with local product and once eagles QB coach sean payton at the helm, but they don't have the talent to match up with the birds just yet. i'll lay out my thoughts at the end, but first what some others think about the game:
- eagles jump to 2nd overall in DVOA, stay at 1st on offense, jump up to 7th on defense and drop to 11th on special teams
- saints come in ranked 11th overall, 9th on offense, 17th on defense, and 6th on special teams
That pfffst sound you hear is the Eagles depressurizing after last week's emotional win over the Cowboys. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Eagles beat the Big Tuna only to lose to Sean Payton, the Junior Tuna? Andy Reid's team usually avoids letdowns after big victories, but even a slight lapse in focus could be lethal against the spry Saints. Sure, the Saints may have allowed an unknown rookie quarterback to throw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, and their offense was just 3-of-12 on third downs against the Buccaneers. But these Saints are hardly beignets. "It's about winning games, and style points aren't important," Payton said, echoing this week's Rundown intro.

One reason the Saints keep winning is that they protect Drew Brees well: he's been sacked six times in five games, and the Buccaneers didn't get to him once last week. Keeping Brees vertical is this week's challenge; the Eagles lead the league with 23 sacks, and their front four has been getting to quarterbacks with only a minimal assist from blitzing linebackers. "Good gracious, they stayed in the backfield," receiver Reggie Brown said of his defensive teammates on Sunday. "They were eating lunch and having tea and crumpets back there." Brown, apparently, has been watching a lot of Miss Marple lately.

When Brees does get hit, he coughs up the ball, and the fumbling is one of the Saints' major weaknesses this season. Look for the Eagles to win the turnover battle this week, as ex-Saint Darren Howard, Darwin Walker, and their other linemen meet in the backfield for bangers 'n' mash. The Saints haven't beaten the Eagles since 1991, and they aren't up to the challenge this season.
les bowen
THIS IS GOING to be a tough game emotionally, and I think the Eagles' defense will have to take a step forward for them to win. They can't afford any 57-yard pass interference penalties on fourth-and-18 with the game on the line this time. Given what the Saints have done so far, I expect a really close game. But my rule right now with the Eagles is, show me how a team is going to shut down Donovan McNabb, if I'm going to pick them to beat the Birds. Other than a lot of general talk about a letdown, I haven't seen that this week.


Eagles 23, Saints 21
vegas vic
If Sunday wasn't such an emotional circus, we would have placed the Birds a bit higher, but as long as Donovan McNabb is on the field, the Eagles have a shot at covering every game.

Prediction: Eagles (-3) over SAINTS
way to break the game down, vic.

new orleans times picayune

couldn't find a pick from their writers, but i did find a pick made by a scouting service they subscribe to:
One might expect the Eagles to be experiencing a bit of a hangover after last week's big win over the Cowboys, but the M.O. for Andy Reid-coached teams has been a businesslike, bordering on emotionless, approach to success. Philadelphia knows it still has much work to do in a difficult division, and must remain focused in its quest to again become a part of the NFL elite. The Saints' demeanor has also been impressive, as they have summoned the emotion to play hard each week despite what some still believe to be an average base of talent. Expect New Orleans to give Philadelphia its best shot, but also expect a younger, less self-assured group of players to make one more mistake than the veteran Eagles in the fourth quarter en route to the franchise's first loss at the Superdome this season.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 28, Saints 22
espn scouts inc
This is the best team the Saints have faced so far this season, and this game will be a good test for them. The Eagles have a high-powered offense that can run and pass the ball at will. The Saints' defense has yet to face an offense with so many weapons, and could be outmanned at the skill positions.

Turnovers will play a key role as they always do. The Eagles' defense is back to full strength now that cornerback Lito Sheppard is healthy, and gives the secondary a much needed boost, as he will be able to handle the Saints' offense.

Prediction: Eagles 31, Saints 24
madden 07

The Eagles followed up their big win over the Cowboys last week by taking down this season's surprise team. Philly moved out to a solid 10-0 lead in this one and completely shut down the New Orleans offense for most of the first half, allowing only a late second-quarter touchdown on a Drew Brees pass to Joe Horn that cut the Eagles' lead to 17-7. The Eagles remained in control for the entire game, however, thanks to the running of Brian Westbrook, who finished with 186 yards on the ground, including 113 in the second half.

Donovan McNabb connected on three touchdown throws for Philly, throwing for first-half scores to Westbrook (who added 67 receiving yards to his incredible yardage total) and Donte' Stallworth. The McNabb-to-Stallworth connection clicked again in the third quarter to move Philadelphia's lead to 24-7, and they capped their offensive effort with a 12-play, 66-yard drive that ended in a field goal and bled six minutes from the clock in the fourth quarter. That left little time for Brees to rally his Saints, although he certainly tried, connecting with Horn and Devery Henderson for touchdowns in the final period that made the score a bit closer.

prediction: eagles 31 - saints 21
what i think
the saints are a fiesty team who got a big win over a decent atlanta squad by riding a wave of emotion and getting an early lead against a team that cannot pass. i usually don't like the argument i'm about to use, but in this case, i think it applies -- the saints have not played anyone and they are definitely taking a step up in class. not only do i like the birds in this game, i love the eagles to cover the line as a road favorite (currently the line is -3, but it's running at -125).

saints o vs. eagles d
the saints have some decent skill position players -- deuce mcallister is a good and powerful running back, joe horn was once a borderline elite wideout, drew brees is a decent qb, reggie bush is a media darling, and marques colston is a TE playing wideout -- but their o-line is only average. their best player is probably jammal brown -- a second year player who moved to LT this year and is a mean sob -- but the rest are "just another guy" type players.

i don't expect the d-line to come out with the same fire that they did last game, but a decent effort should be good enough to control this game. horn doesn't have the speed he once did, and colston is huge but shouldn't be a threat to get behind the defense. i expect JJ to gameplan a little more for the run than he did against the cowboys. michael lewis will probably spend a little more time in the box, with the goal of stopping the saints running game and putting them into 2nd/3rd and long. also, i'll be surprised if they don't jump into nickel defense every time reggie bush is on the field. he's a much bigger threat as a receiver than a runner.

eagles o vs. saints d
the saints have a pretty decent defensive line themselves. will smith and charles grant are a big reason why the saints felt comfortable letting darren howard go. in many ways, those three guys are the same type of player -- old school defensive ends who play the pass and the run effectively. smith and grant are probably the best players on that defense. at tackle, the saint run out brian young -- a smallish, high-motor d-tackle (think paul grasmanis with a little more strength) -- and our buddy hollis thomas.

think about the saints linebackers this way... the eagles linebackers are probably the weakness of the defense and not a single saints linebacker would start for the eagles. fujita, simoneau, and shanle are all journeyman players and are competent but not playmakers.

the secondary has two decent professional cornerbacks in mike mckenzie and fred thomas. safeties are a weakness -- omar stoutmire, who once played for the giants, is just a guy, and josh bullocks is a second year player.

this is not a defense that is going to contain the eagles offense on it's own.

bottom line
unless the eagles turn the ball over a lot and play in a generally disinterested fashion, the game should be well in hand by the third quarter. it's a home game for the saints, so there should be some emotion there, but don't expect the same wave of intensity (and luck) that they caught for the atlanta game. the eagles have a clear talent edge at almost all positions in this game except for probably RB, and they should ride that edge to a solid win.

eagles 30 - saints 16



Anonymous Phil said...

Is it just me or is NO almost a carbon copy of GB with the only differences being 1) better QB, 2) better RBs, 3) worse o-line, and 4) worse LBs. Look for a lot of quick passes from them similar to what GB did, however an inability to consistantly move the ball. We won that one 31-9. Course that was at home and hopefully we don't lose 2 more fumbles.

Basically, Eagles can't afford a let down.

3:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who designed this shit game plan? And who forgot to wake the team up to play the damned game? Drops, drops drops and slop penalties. Pathetic!


1:59 PM EDT  

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