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Eagles Capable of Pulling Yet Another Upset

Eagles Capable of Pulling Yet Another Upset
Last week we stated that nobody should want to play the Eagles in the postseason. That still holds true, even though they will be facing a team that beat them by 41 points less than two months ago.

Things have changed so much since the Eagles dropped that 48-7 loss at New Orleans on Nov. 18.

Since then the Eagles won five of their final six regular season games and then as a 6.5 point underdog, beat the Chicago Bears, 16-15 in one of the more compelling NFL playoff games in recent memory.

A player few have heard about, Eagles lineman Treyvon Hester, was a player everybody was talking about after he got a finger on Cody Parkey’s missed 43-yard field goal attempt that hit the left upright and bounced away with five seconds left.

Hester is the toast of the town. Actually, that isn’t entirely true. Quarterback Nick Foles owns the town for his late-season heroics this season after earning the Super Bowl MVP last year.

Foles won the last three regular season games after Carson Wentz suffered a fractured vertebrae. Against Chicago, despite throwing two costly first half interceptions, he settled down and led the Eagles to a TD, hitting Golden Tate for a 2-yard pass on fourth down to give the Eagles the 16-15 lead.

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For the game he completed 25 of 40 for 266 yards, two TDs and the two interceptions. His passer rating was just 77.7, but he found a way to win the game in the clutch.

Foles has a 4-1 career mark in the playoffs. His lone loss was a 26-24 home defeat to the New Orleans Saints following the 2013 regular season.

His career playoff passer rating is 105.2, with 10 TD passes and three interceptions.

He didn’t play in this year’s loss to the Saints, but what is most impressive about Foles is how calm he appears on the field. Even after making a mistake, he doesn’t dwell on it.

It’s almost as if he realizes he is playing with house money and doesn’t feel the pressure of these big games.

Speaking of house money, the Eagles will be underdogs for the fifth consecutive playoff game dating back to last year. The early line had the Saints as an 8.5 point favorite.

When the Saints beat the Eagles, they were the best team in the NFL, but their play has tailed off since then. That doesn’t mean New Orleans isn’t an excellent team, but the offense has taken a step back.

Since beating the Eagles, New Orleans went 4-2, although the season-ending loss to Carolina, the Saints didn’t use QB Drew Brees since they had already clinched the No. 1 seed.

Even taking the Carolina game out of the picture, New Orleans averaged 37.8 points through their first 10 games, which ended with the win over the Eagles.

In the next five games, taking out the Carolina matchup at the end, New Orleans averaged 22.4 points.

The Saints have one of the best receivers in the NFL in Michael Thomas, who caught 125 passes for 1,405 yards and nine TDs.

The key for New Orleans will be having a second or third receiver as a threat.

New Orleans’ next best receiver is running back Alvin Kamara, one of the best in the NFL. He has 81 receptions for 709 yards and 4 TDs. Kamara and Mark Ingram form the top running back duo in the NFL. Kamara has rushed for 883 yards (4.6 avg.) and 14 TDs, while Ingram has rushed for 645 yards (4.7 avg.) and 4 TDs.

The Eagles have been good against the run lately. Against a potent Chicago Bears rushing attack, the Eagles held them to 65 yards and a 3.6 average.

The Eagles should be able to score on the Saints defense and they won’t allow 48 points again. This should be a close game and one the Eagles clearly have the ability to pull yet another upset.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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