Drew Brees won his first playoff clash against the Eagles. Image courtesy of scoresreport.com
When Philadelphia lost its first four home matches of the season at Lincoln Financial Field, it would have been tough to envision the Eagles hosting a game in the first week of the postseason. The hiring of Chip Kelly has proved to be a masterstroke, though, and the emergence of quarterback Nick Foles has also propelled Philly to the business end of the campaign and the Eagles secured the NFC East division crown on the final day of the regular season with a thrilling 24-22 victory over arch rival Dallas.
On the other hand, New Orleans was swanning along for the first three-quarters of the season but after getting pumped by Seattle in Week 13, the Saints slumped dropping three of their last five games. Apart from having head coach Sean Payton back on board, the key to New Orleans’ resurgence this season has been its defence which was the worst in the NFL last year. Rob Ryan’s crew has forced just two turnovers in that run of five games and it will need to be at its best against an Eagles team which is a threat in the air and on the ground.
Foles – who apparently idolised Drew Brees as a high school player - has been a revelation since locking down the starting job in Week 5 throwing 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His job is made easier by the presence of the league’s leading rusher, LeSean McCoy , who rushed for over 1,600 yards this season. The big issue for the Eagles, though, is their defence, which is last in the NFL against the pass. With Brees and his aerial threats Marques Colston , Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills coming to town, Philly’s secondary will need to perform above those levels to keep the Eagles in the contest. Kelly’s team allowed just 3.77 yards per carry against the run, though, which is tops amongst teams in the postseason.
The Saints are 3-5 on the road this campaign and after their stuttering start, the Eagles have won their last four in the City of Brotherly Love. New Orleans has never won a playoff game away from the Superdome and lost their last three away games this season by a combined score of 78-36. In the only game he has played in Philadelphia in Saints colours since moving over from San Diego seven years ago, Brees threw for three TDs and 311 yards in a 48-22 win. His first playoff win as a Saint came against the Eagles in a 27-24 win in early 2007.
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