The Eagles are coming off a crazy wild-card win over the Bears at Soldier Field and will try to keep the magic going in New Orleans.
They'll return to the scene of the crime, playing in the Superdome for the first time since November's 48-7 loss. But the six-seeded Eagles are a different team right now and so are the top-seeded Saints.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (10-7)
The Eagles aren't the same team that lost to the Saints by 41 points two months ago, and the Saints aren't the same team that beat the Eagles by 41 points two months ago. The Saints got the Eagles at the low point of their season, and the Eagles got the Saints at their high point. And I just like where the Eagles are right now. They just beat three teams - the Rams, Texans and Bears - that are a combined 35-12 where a loss to any of them would have ended their season. They're hot. They're confident. They're rolling. The Saints are very good and almost unbeatable at home. I don't care. I'm going with my gut on this one. I know it's not logical. I know it sounds crazy. I can't back it up with stats. But I've got the Eagles Sunday. I don't know how. I just think they find a way.
Eagles 30, Saints 27
Dave Zangaro (8-9)
The good news: If the Eagles win this game in New Orleans, I fully expect them to beat either the Rams or Cowboys and go to Super Bowl LIII. The bad news: I don't think they're going to win this game. I probably would have picked the Eagles over any of the other remaining playoff teams, but I can't see them (or anyone) going to New Orleans and beating Drew Brees in the Superdome.
Hey, I'm not saying the Eagles have no chance. In fact, I think it'll be a heckuva lot closer than last time and I expect the Eagles to cover that crazy nine-point spread. So they'll at least have a shot. But they'd need to play a perfect game and that's just a little too much to ask for a team that has been in playoff mode for over a month.
Saints 31, Eagles 27
Derrick Gunn (10-7)
Maybe it was divine intervention, but somehow the ball bounced the Eagles' way. They bounced out of Chicago with a road win, and now it's off to New Orleans for the rematch they've been waiting for. Can the magic of Nick Foles produce yet another miracle against Brees and the Saints? The Eagles' defense, especially on the back end, has played much better in recent weeks. The return of Tim Jernigan has helped fortify the trenches.
The Saints also have some help returning that they didn't have in the first meeting with the Birds. Their 2018 first-round pick DE Marcus Davenport will help provide pressure off the edge and WR Ted Ginn Jr., who can take the top off a defense, is another weapon for Brees.
The Eagles must do a better job of containing Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, especially Kamara out of the backfield in the passing game. Saints starters have had two weeks to rest up for this one. As an added incentive on Monday, head coach Sean Payton walked into his locker room accompanied by four armed guards with the Lombardi Trophy and $225K in cash and said to his team, "You want this? Win three (bleeping) games."
Brees is lethal in the Superdome: 21 touchdown passes and just one interception. Round 2 won't be a blowout. I feel the Eagles have a good chance to pull off another upset, but I can't bet against Brees in that dome where the Saints have averaged 37 points per game this season. As much as it pains me to say it ...
Saints 37, Eagles 28
Ray Didinger (10-7)
When the Eagles went to New Orleans in Week 11, they walked into a 48-7 buzzsaw. No sense reliving that grisly experience. The Eagles were coming off a demoralizing home loss to Dallas and they were battered, physically and emotionally. The Saints at the time were red hot after dropping 51 points on Cincinnati the week before.
Things are different now. The Eagles are playing their best football of the season and the Saints aren't quite the same offensive juggernaut. In the last five weeks, the Saints are averaging just 19 points per game and even though one of them was a Week 17 throwaway against Carolina - most of the regulars sat out, including Brees - the fact remains the offense has sputtered down the stretch.
So the Eagles have a shot here. They are peaking at the right time and in Foles they have a quarterback who will stay calm and cool in what will surely be a very loud Superdome. I just think it is too much to ask the Eagles - playing their fifth road game in six weeks - to knock off a well-rested Saints team that is 5-0 in postseason home games with Brees under center. The defending champs gave it a good run but I think it ends here.
Saints 28, Eagles 21
Andrew Kulp (8-9)
It's strange being a non-believer right now. Everywhere you go, people are talking hopefully about the Eagles, but I still see a team that only survived Chicago by a fingertip, blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead against the Texans, and built its momentum largely against the likes of Washington and the Giants.
Then I look at the Saints, who have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, a defense that held six of its last seven meaningful opponents to 17 points or fewer, home-field advantage, oh yeah, and beat the Eagles by 41 points in November. Sure, the Eagles are playing better since, but the Saints are still the Saints.
The Eagles have confidence, which is a good thing, but what they're really going to need is to play better than they did in Chicago to win in New Orleans. They're better - probably not that much better, though.
Saints 28, Eagles 21
Corey Seidman (10-7)
I'm so close to picking the Eagles but just can't bring myself to do it, even though there are plenty of signs they are the proverbial "team of destiny" based on the late-season surge and a few fortuitous bounces of the ball.
If the Saints weren't a dominant 1-seed that didn't have one of the seven best quarterbacks in NFL history, I could see the Eagles' momentum ruling the day. But this is Brees with multiple weeks off. He is immune to rust, he is practically unstoppable at home and he's torched the Eagles the last two times they've ventured down to the most fun city in America.
The only path to an Eagles victory I can see is an early injury to either Michael Thomas or Kamara, which would make the Saints' offense much more regular.
Saints 30, Eagles 24
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