A lot has changed since the Philadelphia Eagles faced the New Orleans Saints in Week 11 of the regular season. They were pummeled by the Saints 48-7 at the Super Dome and fell to 4-6. This was an odd turning point for the Eagles who went 6-1 following that meeting to include last weekend’s crazy wildcard win over the Chicago Bears.
While the Eagles are improving, the Saints offense has lost some steam in recent weeks. However, with a bye week and homefield advantage, the Saints will be fresh going into Sunday’s Divisional Round matchup. But the Eagles are a different team since they last met in November.
Here are three reasons why:
Nick Foles’ Magic
No one can deny that the Eagles have found their swag since Nick Foles took over for an injured Carson Wentz. His poised demeanor has led the team on a four game winning streak. Additionally, this is a team that trusts him based his leadership during last year’s Super Bowl run.
Now Foles will get the chance to see if his magic can help the Eagles overcome the Saints in a game much more important than the last one. In their previous matchup, Wentz was the starter and struggled quite a bit. He completed 19 of 33 passes for 156 yards and three interceptions.
The success of Foles will depend on how much time he has in the pocket and that will be contingent on the performance of his offensive line.
An improved offensive line
The Eagles offensive line has improved in the second half of the season. The Eagles allowed 34 sacks in the first 11 games. During this recent winning streak, they have only allowed four sacks. They have also managed to keep some of the leagues most talented past rushers, such as Khalil Mack, quiet over the last few weeks. That is a notable turnaround.
The offensive line battled some injuries throughout the season but they are heading into the Divisional Round healthy with all their key starters in place to include Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce. This is another good sign for Philly.
The offensive line has to stay clicking if they want to keep the game close.
The revenge factor
Let’s face it. The defending Super Bowl champs were manhandled and embarrassed by the Saints in Week 11. It was also the team’s second worst loss in franchise history. To make matters worse, the Eagles left the field in their feelings. They felt like the Saints ran up the score despite a commanding lead.
Eagles left tackle Jason Peters was quoted by multiple reporters this week addressing this issue: “They ran up the score,” he said. “We wanted them again, we got them again. This time, we coming. It’s not going to be the same outcome.”
Add a little fuel to the fire and it definitely brings a unique edge to this weekend’s game. You can expect the Eagles to be angry and chippy. This is a much different dynamic than earlier this season.
With that being said, there is still one question that remains: Is an improved Eagles team enough to beat the Saints at home? We’ll know the answer on Sunday.
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