The Super Bowl hangover is real
Coaches get poached, players get poached, and guys retire. You’ve played more games than most other teams resulting in a longer season. Your off-season as a player is shorter and more busy with presidential visits, parades, and lots of celebrating.
Then you get the mark of the beast on your back as every team in the league is gunning for you the following year, bekawz yew arghh dee sOOpa Bole shamps!
Oh, and those teams have also copied your style and gotten better to boot....pun intended.
Deep defensive line rotation - Check
Pay premium for backup QB- Check
Depth on offensive line - Check
Every move made in the Saints off-season was calculated with an image in mind of how they wanted this team built.
The signing of Patrick Robinson, the ode to Cold Pizza by getting their own Derek Barnett when they moved up to draft Marcus Davenport. Bringing back Jermon Bushrod and drafting Will Clapp, to go along with the continued development of Cameron Tom, insured they’d have the necessary depth to sustain a long season.
The continued success of the O-line as they fought through injuries to Andrus Peat and Terron Armstead last week and the season, you can see how those moves have payed off handsomely.
Teddy Bridgewater was a name thrown around on Saints message boards for years and then wham, the Saints make a move to get him for a 2nd rounder and get their own version of Nick Foles.
Davenport and Rankins have combined for 9 sacks as primary nickel rushers and the latter’s career year could be attributed to the emergence of David Onyemata as a legit run defender. Meanwhile consistent play from edge starters Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor has resulted in another 8 sacks.
I haven’t even mentioned a scary offense lead by Drew Brees that’s scoring points at a rate even higher than their SB winning team. The Saints voodo is in full effect. They’ve experienced similar luck the Eagles did, with regards to injuries and catching other teams at the right time.
The Saints locker room and coaching staff are bring a new level of accountability to the team this year.
Fact is when the Eagles enter the Superdome Sunday they’ll find themselves involved in somewhat of a Mortal Kombat mirror match. They’ll face last years version of themselves and this, ironically enough, could make them dangerous. Competition can sometimes kick things into a different gear.
Let’s take a look at a few points that could be key in the Saints getting a win on Sunday.
The Golden Tate
For whatever reason Tate has given the Saints more problems than the Harmon’s in American Horror Story. There are multiple articles out there pointing out he’s a Saints killer and that would seem to be accurate. Since 2014 he’s played 4 games vs New Orleans and has accounted for 440 yards of offense with 5 TD’s. His teams have won 3 of the 4 games with the Saints. The streak stopped last year vs the Lions. The Saints aren’t the 7-9 teams they were during those years and are currently a freight train in the NFC. Gold-dust Tate may get his but the results could look more like 2017 than 2014-2016.
3rd downs will be paramount pictures
The Eagles time of possession sits at 32:58 on the year, good for 2nd behind only New Orleans. Even though they lack a consistent run game they are finding ways to convert 3rd downs and extend drives They are ranked 12th in the league with a 41% conversion rate. If you combine that with a scoring defense that’s only allowing 20.3 ppg and a 35% succession rate on 3rd down, you have a complimentary game plan which hopes to keep playing time away from the Saints. The Eagles are only scoring 22.0 ppg this year and cannot afford to get into a shootout. If New Orleans can break their plan early by scoring quickly, sustaining drives of their own, and keeping the Eagles offense off the field, this could end up a rout.
The eagles have a -6 turnover differential suggesting they haven’t taken care of the ball very well this year. Not worst in the league but again, not contributing to winning football. Since the acquisition of Eli Apple the Saints defense has seen it’s opportunistic opportunities ratchet up closer to last year. They finally appear to be playing with some confidence. The caveat is the Eagles aren’t a heavily penalized team that hurts themselves. The secondary will have to make it’s own very opportunities. Carson Wentz has only thrown 4 INT’s this year. Fast defensive football leads to turnovers in other ways. They could facilitate that by feeding off the energy of a ruckus Superdome crowd, that should feel challenged from Payton’s last remark at a home game, suggesting they weren’t loud enough.
I personally think this game could be closer than we think. Already in the chess match Doug Pederson is 1-0 as he beat Sean at golf earlier this year resulting in him getting a chance to pick the home jersey’s in today’s game, (though you could argue Saints got better end of deal with Away Color Rush Jersey’s). The Eagles have the ability to come in and execute the game plan they must use to win. It’s just up to them to do it. At least once a year the Saints drop a dud that you weren’t expecting and the Eagles will be doing everything in their power to get to 500. Will the Saints be prepared for desperation?
Prediction: 28-20 Saints