Swilling: Saints’ run game key to playoff win

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A lot may have changed in the NFL since Pat Swilling last suited up for the Saints as a member of the team’s vaunted “Dome Patrol” of the late-80s and early-90s. But some things in football remain constant, and one of those longstanding truths is that a strong running game is a big advantage to any team who has one.

And thanks to the tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, the Saints have one. Swilling believes that gives them a big leg up in this Sunday’s playoff showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Our ability to run the football I think is gonna be the difference. I think that’s why we’ve been successful. And the reason for that is that if you try to load up the box to stop the run, Drew is gonna kill you. So what do they do?” Swilling said.

“They have to figure out how they’re gonna beat some one-on-one matches,” Swilling continued. “It’s just difficult against the Saints. There's Kamara and those guys who’ll just run the ball down your throat. I think it’s gonna be really tough. It’s gonna be tough for them to come in here and stop our run and stop our passing. It just is.”

Swilling made the comments during his appearance on The Players Show on WWL Radio Thursday night, and he went on to critique the position he knows best. The verdict? He likes what he’s seen from the Saints’ linebackers, particularly this year’s free agent addition Demario Davis.

“He’s been an infusion of not only leadership but also that running playmaker that we needed on defense,” Swilling said of Davis. “I watch him. I love the way he plays. He wears the right number with the 56 as well and he plays fast. I think they needed his leadership but also a guy who can make sideline to sideline plays. It’s unfortunate. I thought he should have made the Pro Bowl as well. I really thought he had that kind of year.”

As for one of Davis’s most frequent running mates, Swilling says Alex Anzalone has proven his worth as a heavy hitter.

“I think he’s an exciting player,” Swilling said. “He’s young. He plays hard. I like the way, when he gets there, he tries to knock the crap out of those guys. It kind of surprised me. I think he weights, what, 215, 220? Maybe a little heavier? He’s another guy that can run. One thing about the Saints linebackers that I really enjoy is now they have guys that can run. That’s what it takes… You need those guys that can cover but also guys that can really run. That’s what they’ve upgraded on this team.”

The Saints host the Eagles in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Sunday at 3:40 in the Superdome. Our coverage on WWL starts that morning at 11. You can hear the full audio of Swilling’s appearance on The Players Show by clicking the podcast link.

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