NFC Divisional Playoffs: Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
After getting one upset win already this postseason, Nick Foles and the streaking Philadelphia Eagles will look to pull off another take-down over a favored playoff opponent when they hit the road to take on Drew Brees and the top-seeded New Orleans Saints in their highly intriguing NFC Divisional showdown on Sunday.
Will the Birds be the first team to hand Drew Brees and Sean Payton a home loss in the postseason or will the Saints bring an end to what Philadelphia hopes will be another magical run to the Super Bowl? If you’re looking for answers, then let’s get to my expert NFL pick on this contest right now.
Philadelphia won their final three regular-season games with veteran quarterback Nick Foles back under center in place of injured starter Carson Wentz. The Birds took out Chicago 16-15 in a thrilling wild-card win last weekend that saw Foles toss two second-half TD passes to lead the Eagles to victory. Now, the Birds are preparing for an even tougher battle – against a team that literally blew them off the field 48-7 in New Orleans in Week 11. Ironically, it is that very same loss that Foles says helped alter the course of the Eagles season.
“That game has helped us become the team we are today,” Foles said Wednesday as the Eagles began preparations for this weekend’s divisional playoff against New Orleans. “Going through that, that’s not easy as a team to lose like that. But there was never a pointing of the finger. It actually brought us closer. It can separate a team or it can bring us closer, and it brought us closer.”
Philadelphia averages 22.9 points per game (18th) while allowing 21.8 points per contest defensively (12th). The Birds have gone 5-4 in nine road dates this season including their playoff win over Chicago.
• Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
• Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Divisional Playoffs games.
• Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
• Eagles are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
• Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC.
• Eagles are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 playoff road games.
• Eagles are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games.
• Eagles are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games following an ATS win.
• Eagles are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games on FieldTurf.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints might now have given much effort in their 33-14 regular season-ending loss to Carolina two weeks ago, but that doesn’t matter one iota now that the new season is here. New Orleans won 13 of 14 prior to their finale including that statement-making 48-7 beatdown of Philadelphia in Week 11 as a 7-point favorite that day.
Now, the Saints say they are looking forward and what happened in Week 11 doesn’t matter now.
“When we played them early in the season, they just lost one of their corners and so they had to shuffle and then they lost one or two in the game,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “I think you see them over the last four or five weeks coming into their own. I assume they’ll come in as motivated as ever. Just like we’re going to come in as motivated as ever. So I don’t think anything that happened previously has any bearing on this game. Just two really good teams about the play in a playoff game.”
This season, Brees was as good as ever in completing a career-high 74.4 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,992 yards with 32 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Saints average a stunning 31.5 points per game to rank third in scoring while allowing 22.1 points per game defensively (14th). The Saints are 6-2 SU at home this season.
• Saints are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games in January.
• Saints are 25-6 ATS in their last 31 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
• Saints are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up loss of more than 14 points.
• Saints are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 vs. NFC.
• Saints are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games on FieldTurf.
• Saints are 48-22-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
• Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Expert Pick and Prediction
I won’t waste a lot of time beating around the bush with my ATS pick on this NFC divisional showdown simply because I believe the eight-point spread is a few points too high for Drew Brees and the Saints to cover against an Eagles team that is clearly playing solid football on both sides of the ball right now.
While I’m certainly not picking Philly for the outright upset win, again, I believe the spread is a bit too high for New Orleans to cover – and apparently, 62 percent of public bettors agree.
The Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff games and 7-2 ATS in their last nine road playoff games. While the Saints have gone 5-1 ATS in their last six games in the month of January, New Orleans is also an uninspiring 1-4 ATS in their last five games coming into this affair. I know Drew Brees and the Saints have gone 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings against the Eagles, but I like Nick Foles and the Birds to keep this one fairly close.
Predicted Score: Philadelphia Eagles 21 | New Orleans Saints 27
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