Eagles vs Saints – Inactives, Keys to the Game and Pick
The Eagles host the New Orleans Saints and their 28th ranked rushing attack in Week 5 at Lincoln Financial FIeld.
A lot of talk this week as centered around the Saints three-headed-monster at running back, but the fact is, the Saints haven't run the ball very well this season. The team has yet to see one of their running backs top 77 yards in a single game this season, and are averaging just 82.8 yards on the ground per game.
Overall, The Eagles and the Saints have met 29 times since the series began in 1967 with the Eagles leading the series, 16-13.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles hold an 8-4 series advantage.
(Listen on 97.3 ESPN, coverage starts at noon, Kickoff at 1pm)
The Eagles listed LB Kiko Alonso (knee), DE Brandon Bair (groin), LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) out for the game while T Jason Peters (quadricep) is listed as questionable, though he is expected to play on Sunday.
On the Saints injury front, starting left tackle Terron Armstead has been ruled out for Sunday against the Eagles. Saints rookie Andrus Peat will start at left tackle, Peat has played almost exclusively as an extra blocker in jumbo packages this season for the Saints, so Sunday will be his first extensive action as a pass blocker in the NFL.
Sal Pal’s Keys to the Game:
Eagles’ inactives: ILBs Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DE Brandon Bair, QB Thad Lewis, RB Kenjon Barner, CB Denzel Rice and OL Julian Vandervelde
Saints’ inactives: LT Terron Armstead, P Thomas Morstead, OG Jahri Evans, QB Garrett Grayson, DE Obum Gwacham, DE Bobby Richardson and FB Austin Johnson
Outside View: Kristian Garic, WWL, Saints Sideline reporter
Saint to Watch: Saints WR Willie Snead played 48-of-73 snaps Week 4 against the Cowboys and has become a go-to-target for Drew Brees. Snead had six catches for 89 yards in Week 4 against Dallas and is on pace for 64 catches, 960 yards, and four touchdowns.
While we listed the struggles the Saints have in running the ball at the start of this preview, here I'll highlight their inability to stop the pass. The Saints are allowing 9.8 yards per pass attempt from opposing quarterbacks, and Sam Bradford finally looked comfortable throwing the ball down-the-field.
"I liked their vertical passing (last week vs Redskins)," said ESPN.com NFL insider KC Joyner on the Sports Bash. "Bradford was 5-of-11 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, he went into the game as the worst vertical passer in the league and they have a good matchup coming up."
But in reality, while throwing the ball down-the-field is something the Eagles need to continue to do, they need to run the ball better. That is what Chip Kelly wants to do, that is why he spent about $50 million to bring in running back talent like DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Right now they don't look like a Chip Kelly coached team the way they are playing on the offensive side of the ball.
The Saints have struggled, they enter the game at just 1-3, but they are coming off a solid win over Dallas on Sunday night. I asked Joyner if he thought this Saints team was better than their 1-3 record indicated and if they are turning the corner after their win over Dallas
"Their defense is abysmal," Joyner stated. "They are giving up a huge amount of big plays, they will get Jairus Byrd back and that could help the situation. But they have Brees back and he looked better but that's an offensive that is not a explosive offensive offense, if you can get into a pace football game you might have success against them."
Another area where the Saints struggle is stopping the run, they give up 123.3 yards per game on the ground, but as Eagles fans know, the running game hasn't gotten going yet - averaging just 70 yards per game on the ground - something's gotta give today.
"This should be a week where the Eagles should - if they can get their offensive line going, and stick with the running game, and don't get into a situation where they have to play catchup football, they ought to be able to run the football - and pass the football."
"On paper the Eagles should be able to score 24 or more points, and it would be a shock if they didn't"
Translation here - Saints have trouble on defense, don't have an explosive offense, Sam Bradford turning the corner - it's time for the Eagles to finally look like a team and get a win at home against a bad Saints team.
The Pick: Eagles 34, Saints 24
John McMullen’s take: