By the Numbers, Matchups to Watch and Fantasy Tips for Eagles-Saints
The Eagles have now won four consecutive playoff games with the combination of Nick Foles and Doug Pederson. They have won six of their past seven games overall, including the regular season. They are 4-3 vs. NFL Playoff Teams and have won their last three against postseason-bound opponents. Before last week’s playoff win at Chicago, the Eagles’ last road win in the postseason was in 2008. The Eagles are one of two teams (Indianapolis) seeking to become the first No. 6 seed since 2010 to reach a Conference Championship Game.
The Saints won three of four games against NFL playoff teams, including a 48-7 destruction of the Eagles at home in Week 11. Foles did not start in that game and Carson Wentz was intercepted three times. Drew Brees threw for 363 yards and four TDs and Mark Ingram rushed for 103 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. New Orleans has won three of its past five postseason games but has lost three consecutive Divisional Round matchups. They have won their last six home playoff games. Sean Payton has a 7-5 postseason career record. Brees is 7-6 in the postseason, with one playoff loss before his first postseason game with the Saints in 2006. He has thrown 29 career TD passes with nine interceptions and has a QB playoff rating of 100,7. The Saints have won four of their last five meetings with Philadelphia and are 2-1 vs. the Eagles in the postseason. Payton has beat them twice in two meetings, including a 26-24 Wild Card Round win in 2014.
The Saints were 6-2 at home this year, while the Eagles are 5-4 on the road, including the playoffs. New Orleans ranked third in points scored during the regular season. and Philadelphia was 12th in points allowed. The Eagles were seventh in passing yards per game and the Saints were 29th defensively. The Eagles were 30th against the pass and the Saints were 12th offensively. Both teams defended the run well as New Orleans was second in rushing yards allowed per game and the Eagles were seventh. But the Saints were sixth in rushing yards per game and Philadelphia was 28th defensively. The Saints were +8 in takeaway differential, which was seventh in the league, while the Eagles were -8 (25th). The Saints are capable of playing stout defense, as they did not allow more than 17 points in a game from Weeks 11 through 15. They have employed a lot of man coverage since acquiring Eli Apple.
Philadelphia really has no running game to speak of, as no Philadelphia RB has topped 55 rushing yards since Week 13. Darren Sproles was Philadelphia’s busiest rusher at Chicago with 21 yards on 13 carries. Sproles remains the Eagles’ most potentially productive RB if they can get him freed up in the passing game. He only caught three passes for 14 yards at Chicago. The Saints did allow five receiving TDs to opposing running backs this season. Their 86 receptions allowed to RBs ranked 19th in the league. Sproles may also want to burn his former team in this playoff game, even if it’s just for added trash talking fun.
Much will obviously fall on the storybook shoulders of Foles, who was sacked nine times in five regular season starts but was dropped just once against Chicago. New Orleans was fifth in the league with 49 sacks, but the Bears had 50 and Foles is unleashing the ball very quickly. The Saints allowed an NFL-high 3,345 yards and an NFC-high 243 receiving yards to opposing WRs this season. Alshon Jeffery has topped 80 yards in three of his past four games and has at least five catches in four of the past five. Nelson Agholor scored three times in the final two weeks of the regular season, and if Foles has to stack up the completions he could be a factor.
The Saints held opposing TEs to an NFC-low 54 catches this season and were second-best in yardage allowed to the position (619). Zach Ertz had his worst game of the season against the Saints (2-15).
The Eagles had 44 sacks during the regular season, which was tied for eighth in the league. But Brees was sacked an NFC-low 20 times as he received optimum support from his running backs and used his incredible savvy to make crisp reads and quick decisions. Brees was not sacked by the fearsome Philadelphia defensive line in the first meeting between the teams this year. He broke his own completion percentage record (74.4) in 2018, after completing 72 percent of his passes last season. He did not throw more than one TD pass in his final four regular season starts, though.
Michael Thomas caught four passes for 92 yards in the first meeting between these teams and will give an injury-thinned Eagles secondary much trouble as he is moved around against their vulnerable CBs. Ted Ginn Jr. finally returned from a long injury layoff in Week 16 and caught five passes for 74 yards. He was rested in Week 17 and could be a dangerous downfield target. Tre’Quan Smith had the best game of his rookie season in the first meeting (10-157-1) but has faded since and Ginn could assume his role as the big-play man against the Eagles in this matchup.
Alvin Kamara had 108 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the first meeting and Ingram has not topped 65 rushing yards since he last played the Eagles. Philadelphia allowed 110 receptions to opposing RBs this season, the second-highest total in the league, and their 844 receiving yards allowed to the position were third-most in the NFC. Philadelphia simply may not have the personnel to hold off the Saints’ balanced attack.
FANTASY TAKES: Foles will have to throw a lot, especially if the Eagles play from behind, so he is very viable in one-and-done formats. Jeffery has come on strong with Foles recently and might be the best Fantasy play from Philadelphia this week. Agholor is a risky play with some TD promise and upside. If you played Ertz last week in a multiplier format you have to stick with him, but otherwise you should opt for Travis Kelce or Eric Ebron if you can. Kamara should have a heavy workload and will roll up a lot of points, and Ingram is a threat to get into the end zone. Thomas is an obvious must-start and Ginn will be a popular play among savvy Fantasy participants in all formats.
DFS VIEWS: In the FanDuel Sunday games, Foles is an interesting play for $7,700 as volume and game flow may work in his favor statistically. Kamara is worth spending for as the most expensive RB at $8,600 and Ingram is enticing at 6,400. Jeffery is $1,000 less than Thomas at $7,400 and Agholor is a gusty play at $6,200. Ginn is the ultimate value at $4,500. Ertz is $7,400 and may be widely owned, so consider pivoting to Rob Gronkowski at $1,200 less and take your chances if you need to free up salary. On the full DraftKings weekend slate, Foles is the seventh QB of eight on the pricing ladder at $5,400. He is a very alluring play. You simply must stack him with Alshon Jeffery at $5,800. Ginn is just $4.400. Kamara is a fine play on DK as the third-highest RB ( $7,300). Eric Ebron ($5,500) is 200 dollars less than Ertz and is the recommended pivot.
GAME PREDICTION: The Bears simply did not have the weaponry needed to challenge the Philadelphia defense enough, especially in the secondary. That won’t be an issue for New Orleans and they can also create more havoc with their RB pairing than Chicago did. Foles will admirably try to keep pace but he cannot carry the team in this matchup. The mediocre ground game and defense will ultimately let Philadelphia down. I will take the Saints to cover (-7.5) and the over (51.5). Saints 33, Eagles 20.