Nick Foles has won six straight games overall as a betting underdog as well as four straight playoff games as an underdog. Nick Foles is 5-1 this year including playoffs. Last year he was 6-1 including the playoffs including an improbable Super Bowl MVP winning performance against the New England Patriots. Being an underdog is nothing new to either the Eagles or Nick Foles. Last year they were not favored in any playoff game despite having the top record in the NFL and having home field throughout. This year they have not been favored as they snuck in as the last playoff team in the NFL. However; one could argue that the Philadelphia Eagles have been playing playoff football since their week #11 blowout loss to the Saints (48-7). This left the Eagles at 4-6 and on the outside looking in. But that was yesterday's news. This Eagles team is a polar opposite of that team that was absolutely embarrassed up and down the gridiron. So let's rehash. Since Week #11, the Eagles are 6-1. Nick Foles is 4-0 in the playoffs the past two seasons all as an underdog.
No matter what Nick Foles does on the football field, there are many people that continue to doubt him and then there are the just plain "haters." Game in and game out he continues to prove those doubters wrong. Its not even the stats that make his recent run so impressive (although they are pretty damn good). However; its the way that Nick Foles has won these games with a coolness and calmness that has rarely been seen. I am a huge Carson Wentz fan, but you have to admire the way that Nick has come in the past two seasons and orchestrated the outcomes in these huge games. We will leave the Wentz/Foles debate for another day. Today is a day that we will focus on Foles and what he continues to do as a leader not only on the field but also in the locker room.
Will Foles magic continue??? We shall see. But no matter what the outcome of todays game comes to, one thing will definitely be true. The Eagles will go as far as Nick Foles can take them. You say this is a team game and you are totally right. Well, the Eagles are once again playing as a "TEAM." Earlier in the season you could not say that. There were so many distractions (Carson Wentz return, endless injuries, inconsistent play calling, etc.) Well, that is all in the past now. The Eagles have an opportunity to go out today and prove all of the doubters wrong once again and move one step closer to the end goal. The idea of the Eagles repeating was an afterthought just eight weeks ago. Now its REALITY!
Here are my keys to the game and then I will provide my pick. My keys to the game are:
- Pass Protection- The Offensive Line has been playing lights out the past six weeks after a horrible start to the season. Jason Peters has once again solidified himself as one of the premier left tackles in the game. Jason Kelce's athleticism allows Foles to master the RPO's. The unit will have to be spot on once again today to give time for Foles to perform his magic.
- Rush the Passer- Drew Brees is a field general. If he is given time I believe he will pick this young Eagles secondary (Crev'eon LeBlanc, Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, and Sidney Jones). It is an absolute Must that Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long and company dominate the line of scrimmage. Also, Jim Schwartz needs to dial up some blitzes. The Eagles are last in Blitz percentage and they will need to be a little more aggressive in this one, especially if they are not getting to the passer.
- Special Teams- Win the battle of Field Possession. Don't take stupid penalties. Make the Saints work for their points. Do not give them a short field. Jake Elliott needs to make every field goal and please, please, please, no double doinks. No missed extra points either.
- Turnovers- The Eagles need to get more turnovers than the Saints. Last week they lost the turnover battle. In fact, they have one of the worst turnover percentages in the NFL. What did we see last year? Not only win the turnover battle...but also make them timely turnovers (BG's sack of Brady, Chris Long's sack of Goff, etc). And then the third part of this score points off of the turnovers. Take advantage of New Orleans mistakes.
- Time of Possession- The Saints Defense is really good against the run. I am not saying run the ball more than pass...what I am saying is lead a balanced attack and keep the Saints offense on the sidelines as long as possible. Also, timeouts could be extremely important in this one so Doug needs to be shrewd when burning these timeouts and using the challenge.
MY PICK- Well, I know the Eagles are considered huge underdogs in this one by the betting public as well as most NFL advisors and experts. On paper, this makes a ton of sense. New Orleans is undefeated in the Super Dome in playoffs in forever. Drew Brees has had an MVP season. The Saints have Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas (game changers) on offense. The Saints beat the Eagles (WHIPPED THEIR ASS) 48-7 in the regular season. The Eagles young secondary that does not employ one player with more than two years experience. For all of these reasons...I say that the Saints being favored makes perfect sense. However; this is the playoffs and sometimes the best team and team that is set up to win (favored) does not win. You can call me a homer, you can call me a non realist, you can call me an idiot...lol. I do not really care here. I am going with my gut here and my gut says that the Eagles are going to make these experts EAT CROW. So without further ado...JASON VOORHEES PICK-
EAGLES-29/SAINTS-28. Eagles win another last minute thriller. This Time Foles does not leave the field with the lead...The Eagles win on last possession! LET"S GO BIRDS!!!! #FlyEaglesFly