Well, today’s the day and you could cut the tension with a knife. The Philadelphia Eagles are just hours away from a playoff clash with the begrudged Saints and it promises to be quite the spectacle. Can the ultimate underdog continue to break the mold?
After two correct picks last week, we sit 30/80 on the season. Is this the week that the Magic of Nick Foles ignites this series as well as the offense?
Old friends become an enemies:
Neither Darren Sproles nor Malcolm Jenkins are strangers to Sean Payton and the Saints. Jenkins won his first Super Bowl under the tuteleage of the Saints Head Coach, while the relationship between Darren Sproles and Drew Brees has almost spanned an entire generation. Both players will face off agaisnt their former team on Sunday with a biter taste in their mouths following the humiliating defeat handed to them earlier in the season. Given the nature of this game, there’s every chance that the ‘revenge game’ mentality would be needed to give the Birds a shot at overthrowing New Orleans.
The best dual-threat back of all time, Darren Sproles has become an integral part of the Eagles offense since his return, while it’s been widely documented that Jenkins is yet to miss a defensive snap this season, a year in which the rest of the secondary has been ravaged by injury.
My first bold prediction is for both players to have outstanding games. Malcolm Jenkins will lead the team in tackles, while Darren Sproles will score a touchdown and total 75+ total scrimmage yards.
The magic is real:
The magic of Nick Foles is hard to put into words, but it exists. The Eagles quarterback has a tendancy to show up in the most pressurized of moments, acting as cool, calm and collected as one could possibly be. It’s somewhat ridiculous, but the legend of Nick Foles is only growing as each game passes. This will be no different.
The Saints secondary has performed better in recent weeks, but they rank last against the pass in the NFL, which should entice Foles into taking some deep shots down the field. Foles wasn’t exactly stunning last time out in those situations, going 2/5 with an interception, but in passes over 10+ yards, he was 13/18 which is much more impressive.
I’m predicting Foles to throw for 300+ yards, picking apart the flailing Saints pass defense, scoring 2+ touchdowns in the process and pushing the offense into a shootout.
Captain Cre’Von sets sail:
I have made the same pick religiously for about the last month, but the truth is this; Cre’Von LeBlanc may be the most improved player on the Eagels roster. Making big play after big play, the former Bears corner has been a lifeline for the Eagles defense and has given Jim Schwartz confidence in his depleted secondary once more.
Agianst the Saints, I think we see his best game yet. We all know that he hits like a freight train and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, but this may finally be the game we see LeBlanc pick off his first pass as an Eagle, and what better time for that to happen than against the laser-accurate Drew Brees and a fiery Saints offense? That’s my third prediction for today.
Silencing the noise:
It’s nearly been a whole year since the Eagles won the Super Bowl and Alvin Kamara started firing shots at the Birds. Sure, a humilating 48-7 loss set the tone and may have given Kamara a sense of redemption, but it was against an Eagles team who had completely lost their identity and were crumbling without the energy to keep fighting on.
They now face a very different team. An offense that can start as quickly as hoped for and a defense that is smothering the run in dominant fashion. Kamara is a different kind of cat, but the Eagles held Chicago’s multi-dimensional backfield to a COMBINED 65 yards. I’m predicting a similar fate for Kamara, who will be held to under 100 total scrimmage yards on the day.
Michael Thomas needs little introduction. Whether it’s setting the Saints single-game recieivng record back in November, leading the league in receptions, or hauling in 1,405 total receiving yards on the season, the former second-round pick is rapidly blossoming into one of the NFL’s most dangerous talents.
This week, he will face a wounded secondary, but one that’s playing with a chip on its shoulder. Rasul Douglas has been playing out of his mind, tackling with a level of aggression we hadn’t seen until recently, while Avonte Maddox on the other side has been playing just as impressively, all things considered. Sure, there have been rookie teething problems, but he has been producing to a level the Eagles could only have dreamed of when he was hurried into the outside corner role.
No cornerback allowed fewer yards per snap in coverage than Avonte Maddox in 2018 pic.twitter.com/lGBbzeVDI7
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 12, 2019
Finally, I’m predicting Michael Thomas to be kept out of the endzone this evening, amassing less than 120 receiving yards in the process. Forcing Brees to look elsewhere and giving the pass-rush some extra help.
What are your bold predictions? Let us know in the comments!
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports