I Got 9 On It



EAGLES: Each week when you think they’re going to let you down, they prevail. That’s the making of a champion and you saw that Sunday in Chicago when they faced the Bears. Coming into that game, I stated that the offensive line was going to be key and the game would be won in the trenches. They did a great job keeping Khalil Mack in check which is never easy to do. Nick Foles started the game struggling by throwing two early interceptions. In the second half, he was more patient and timed his throws. I loved the gutsy performance the Eagles defense put on. They were fast off the point of attack, they tackled in open space and they bottled up Jordan Howard which forced Mitchell Tribusky to beat them. The Eagles are rolling right now. They’ve won their last four games to be in the position. They’re a different team from last season which was expected because it’s hard to be as dominant as you were one season. As well as their defense played, I can’t deny the fact that they have a terrible pass defense. The defensive line when it gets push up front can make any secondary look good which goes for any team. Foles is on a roll again. I just wonder what it is about him and this time of the year. He was magical in December last season which carried on into the playoffs and beyond. I think it’s safe to say this guy has ice in his veins. He showed it in the Super Bowl and he also showed it last Sunday on the Eagles final offensive drive in Chicago. Fourth down and goal and he fired a dart to Golden Tate to put Philly ahead. To advance and keep their season alive, they will have to go to New Orleans to take down the top seeded Saints.

SAINTS: It’s been a year to remember in the NOLA. They were entering a season as the kings of the NFC South. They drop that first game of the season to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and everyone is already quitting on them after one game in September. Really? After week one, they were the hottest team in the league being victorious in ten straight games. I’ve seen a lot of Drew Brees over the years, this is hands down the best I’ve ever seen him look. He’s up there in age, yes, but age really isn’t anything but a number. He’s still one of the three best quarterbacks in our league right now and he put together a year where he completed 74 percent of his passes. Another interesting note about his season is he was sacked only 17 times this year. The Saints offensive line did an incredible job this year. When you watch those guys up front, they follow their blocking assignments, they always remain low and they give Drew such a clean pocket to throw the football from which allows him to get rid of the ball with those quick releases. The offense will always be one of the best in the league with number nine under center. Michael Thomas has put together a career year and became Brees’ top target. Alvin Kamara showed no signs of a sophomore slump. The defense isn’t as strong as it was last year, but they buckle down 20 yards and in when they know they need to make a stop. To advance to their first NFC title game since 2009, they will need to take down the defending Super Bowl champs.

EAGLES PLAYER TO WATCH: Dallas Goedert– Nick Foles loves to target his tight ends. When he isn’t connecting with Zach Ertz, he can find his other tight end, the rookie who’s made his name known. Although he caught a touchdown pass on Sunday, I look for him to get his looks and play a much larger role this Sunday.

SAINTS PLAYER TO WATCH: Benjamin Watson– Old reliable himself! I think he knows a thing or two about having the top seed in the playoffs and playing in January. The Eagles will focus their attention on trying to limit Kamara, Ingram and Thomas that Watson will see his share of single coverages, or none.

FINAL ANALYSIS: When they met in November, Drew Brees tore apart the Eagles and was five points away from a perfect passer rating (153.2). That was the most all-around game I had seen from the Saints. All these weeks later, here they are fighting again for a trip to the NFL’s version of the final four. The Saints offensive line must neutralize the Eagles defensive line which should be an easy task because they always block so well up front. Foles will be able to take his shots down the field. The Saints aren’t that great when it comes to defending the pass either. This is a much different team the Saints will see on Sunday. The biggest key for Philly is third down conversions. They must convert.