November 5, 2012
Monday night football, tonight, will end the debate of who has been more underachieving in the NFC this season. New Orleans (2-5) faces Philadelphia (3-4) in a game many would have thought before the season was a playoff preview.
That was before the Saints stumbled out of the gate losing their first four games and the Eagles lost four of their last five games. Now both of these teams come into this game knowing that loss could damage their their playoff hopes beyond repair.
New Orleans has been historically bad on defense and is struggling in a new defensive scheme. Philadelphia has been so bad on defense the Eagles have already fired their defensive coordinator.
Last week, the Atlanta Falcons did pretty much whatever they wanted on offense against the Philadelphia defense and the Denver Broncos did the same to the New Orleans defense. At least, the Eagles managed 17 points against the Falcons defense but the Saints could only muster seven points against the Denver defense in a blowout loss.
How bad is the Saints defense? They are the first team to allow 400-plus yards in seven straight games since 1950. That shouldn't be a surprise since the New Orleans defense ranks near the bottom of every defensive statistical category.
The Saints defense has just 13 sacks tied for 25th in the NFL and only nine takeaways with is only worse than four other teams. Here is some good news Saints fans, the Eagles offense has given the ball away a whopping 17 times this season with quarterback Micheal Vick giving the ball 13 times so far.
Even more good news for the Saints defense is that Philadelphia has allowed 20 sacks in seven games so far this season. That means the New Orleans defense should be able to pressure Vick and force turnovers since the Eagles offensive line is in shambles due to injuries.
New Orleans won't have Darren Sproles tonight but that just means the other backs will have to step up their work rate. Mark Ingram and company are getting dinged for being a part of one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL but the Saints have been behind so much this season they have had to abandon the run in the second half of most of their games.
As stated earlier, the Saints offense looked dreadful against Denver but the Eagles defense hasn't been stellar. Philadelphia only has nine quarterback sacks and is going against a New Orleans offensive line that has only given up 13 sacks this season.
The Eagles aren't forcing turnovers either having only eight takeaways. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has throw eight interceptions and as a whole New Orleans only has nine giveaways.
If Brees protects the ball and the Saints defense can do what every other defense has done against the Eagles, New Orleans should win this game in a shootout. Philadelphia's offense will score points against the Saints defense but the Eagles defense shouldn't be able to stop the Saints offense.
This game will come down to which defense will get stops and turnovers and which offense protects their defense but not giving the ball. So far this season, New Orleans has shown they will protect Brees and the ball better than Philadelphia as shown they will protect Vick and the ball.
New Orleans 38 Philadelphia 31