Ground and pound
The Saints went 1-7 ATS on the road during the regular season, and if they want to win the Super Bowl, they would have to do it all on the road. While winning on the road in Philadelphia is a tough task, it’s not impossible for Drew Brees and the former Super Bowl champion Saints. Their defense can still play well, and their offense is fully capable of matching the Eagles.
What the Saints will likely do is attempt to run the ball a lot in this game, keeping the ball out of the hands of Nick Foles, and the Chip Kelly offense. The Saints have been very inconsistent rushing this season, but if they can at the very least establish a running game it will take them a long way in trying to keep this game close on the road.
The Eagles are going to do the same thing, except establishing a running game is going to be a lot easier when you have LeSean McCoy on your side. The league’s leading rusher should have little problem running on the Saints’ 19th ranked rushing defense, and if the Saints’ defense can’t slow down McCoy, it’s almost a death sentence for their chances in this game.
The Sharp Pick
I doubt this game gets too out of control score-wise. Both of these defenses are capable of playing well, and the Eagles have definitely been trending up in that department as the season goes on. For this matchup, I think that might send them over the top against a team like New Orleans that struggles so much on the road. The Eagles are great at defending the tight end, and I think it will be tough for Jimmy Graham to really take over this game. Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans are both very capable of at the very least slowing Graham down, and that might be enough with the Eagles’ offense hot.
McCoy will likely be called to set the tone in this game, and much like he has done over the last three or four games of the season for the Eagles, he should touch the football at least 25 times. The Eagles won seven of their last eight games in the regular season SU, and it was on McCoy’s back. Foles has been playing outstanding football, but the reason some of these plays in the Eagles’ offense work is because you have to account for the league’s rushing champion in the Eagles’ backfield.
While it will likely be close throughout, I doubt the Saints’ offense goes nuts. In their final five road games of the season, the Saints went 1-4 SU and averaged less than 15 points per game during those five games. The weather is looking like it will be well below freezing by the time kickoff happens on Saturday night, and that only helps the Eagles even more to become one of our NFL picks.
My Pick: Eagles -2 ½