Saints won’t stumble with Eagles

Zach Strief
November 18, 2018 - 12:49 pm

The Saints continue their journey to the ultimate goal in the football world, but before that even becomes a possibility, they have to take down the team who did just that the year before.  

The Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots last season to win Super Bowl 52, and to say they did it under unlikely circumstances is a massive understatement.  In a week 14 matchup against the L.A. Rams, the Eagles lost their starting QB Carson Wentz to an ACL injury. Most of us around the NFL wrote off the Nick Foles led Eagles.  They maximized the 1 seed they earned and rode it into the Super Bowl.  

Tom Brady vs. a backup card was played frequently in the two weeks leading up to the game.  When the dust settled, it was Nick Foles who stood upon the pedestal, hoisting the Super Bowl MVP honors. The lessons of what teams are capable of when they believe in themselves.  It’s a belief that has not necessarily disappeared from this Eagles team just yet.
The Philadelphia Eagles come into New Orleans at 4-5, their playoff lives at risk.  It’s a week where plenty has been said about how the Eagles backs are against a wall, and they really have no more room for error.  This is still a group with tons of talent who can make plays and find ways to win games.  

Carson Wentz is having a better statistical season than he did last year. Tight end Zach Ertz is 3rd in the NFL in receptions just behind Michael Thomas.  Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has 7 touchdowns in his last 7 games; WR Nelson Agholor led the Eagles in the playoffs last year and they just traded for Saints killer, WR Golden Tate.  All the pieces are there for this Eagles team to make a run and finish their season stronger than they’ve started.  Only one team stands in their way to starting a run.  Unfortunately, that team, is the hottest team in football.
Here’s the problem with the Eagles beating the Saints.  The Saints are the hottest team in football, but more importantly, they’re the hungriest.  Don’t forget, this Saints team had one of the most heart-breaking endings of any season in recent memory last year.  That fire has burned in the bellies of these players for months now, and this Saints team knows how fragile success can be in the NFL.  

Every year you see a team that seems to just be on a mission.  A team that seems to go about their business every week making the unusual seem normal.  For example, the record shattering pace the Black & Gold are on offensively, scoring on 61% of their possessions.  That number inflates to 67%, when you remove drives when they’re trying to run out the clock.  It’s an offense that has elite players, who seem to have to apologize for their success.  A quarterback, who is only good because of the offense he plays in.  A wide receiver, who is only good because of the quarterback, and two running backs who while being Pro Bowlers, never seem to make it to the top of any list.  After all, in any other offense they would just be guys.  

Of course, nearly never brought up in those conversations, the number one offensive line in football, featuring 4 players 99% of football fans couldn’t name.  Maybe it’s the plight of playing in a small market.  Maybe, I’m just a homer and none of this is really the perception.  The reality is, half the media in the country is patiently waiting for the Saints to stumble so they can claim all their “analysis” is proven true.  What most don’t know, is how much this edition of the New Orleans Saints, wants to be great.  

The window is closing on the Drew Brees era.  He won’t be around much longer and getting back into the big game one more time, may be the difference between cementing his legacy and allowing doubt and ignorance to remain in it. 
The Saints are in a very tight race for the one seed in the NFC. Holding the tie-breaker over the Rams gives them a slight advantage, but their season ending schedule puts the Black & Gold in a difficult position.   Oftentimes, teams that have a letdown, can afford to.  The Saints backs are still up against a wall. 

Winning the one seed in New Orleans puts the entire NFC in a bad position.  Ultimately, every team knows, they don’t want to travel to New Orleans for a playoff game.  That will be the discussion each and every week in the team meeting room on Tom Benson Way.  

Win the one seed, win the NFC.  Sean Payton and Drew Brees have been waiting 9 years for another real opportunity to win the one seed in the NFC.  This may be the best team that has seen the field in New Orleans since that Super Bowl team.  If there is one thing veterans of the NFL know, it’s that opportunities like this don’t come around often.  I don’t expect Payton and Brees to waste it.  

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