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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wild Card Round Preview: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles


By on 1/04/2014 08:00:00 AM

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

Saturday January 4th, 2014 8:10 PM

Lincoln Financial Field

Line: Eagles by 3   

The New Orleans Saints march onto Lincoln Financial field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday in NBC’s nightcap of the Wild Card round. The matchup features two of the NFL’s best offenses led by the two best quarterbacks in the league to wear the number nine in Drew Brees and Nick Foles (step aside Tony Romo).

We have seen year in and year out what Brees and the Saints offense is capable of. Brees booked his fourth career 5,000 yard season in 2013 and threw 39 touchdown passes leading the Saints to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth. Brees’ favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham is a monster and a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Graham was on the receiving end of 16 out of the 39 touchdown passes Brees threw this season. The big question mark surrounding Brees is his ability to perform in cold weather. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 20’s in Philly come kickoff. The Saints defense is nothing to write home about, but the one true weakness on this Saints team is their running game. Pierre Thomas being sidelined for this game with a neck injury will not do them any favors either. While Darren Sproles is explosive, he is not a true between-the-tackles running back.

The Eagles have been soaring ever since quarterback Nick Foles took over for an injured Michael Vick. Under Foles, the Eagles have gone 7-1 and finish the season with the league’s top ranked passing and rushing offense. While not much is said about the Eagles defense, the unit is quite underrated. Linebackers Trent Cole and Connor Barwin give the defense a solid pass rush, and Brandon Boykin is statistically one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL.

I don’t expect the cold weather have as much of an effect on Brees’ performance as some are saying it will, but natural elements and playing at home will certainly work in favor of the Eagles. At the end of the day, I am picking the Eagles to win in a nail biter because they are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, playing at home, and their offense is much more balanced than the Saints offense.

Final Score: Eagles 32 Saints 30

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