The 4-5 Eagles can make a major statement on Sunday with a win over the 8-1 New Orleans Saints. A loss, however, could drop the Birds even further out of the NFC East race heading into a stretch of three straight must-win games against divisional foes.
And that’s certainly not the situation the defending Super Bowl champions hoped to find themselves in heading into the 10th game of their season.
We’ve broken down the injuries, pointed out the key matchups to watch and offered our own predictions for this one. Now, as we do every weekend, it’s time to take a look around the nation to see how the various experts, both local and national, think Sunday’s matchup is going to play out.
• PhillyVoice staff: Not all of us picked the Saints to win on Sunday — yours truly picked the Eagles, because why the hell not? But four of five did predict a second straight loss for the Birds, including beat writer Jimmy Kempski, who sees a 38-31 Saints win.
This game feels like an easy call, so we won’t bother diving too deep. The Saints have the most efficient passing offense in the NFL behind MVP candidate Drew Brees, to go along with a very good rushing attack. The Eagles, meanwhile, will likely be missing three starters in their secondary, including both outside corners.
This game marks the first time the Eagles will be underdogs all season long, sooooooooo, break out the dog masks? I don’t think that’ll help this year.
• ESPN staff: Nine of their 10 national experts are picking the Saints over the Eagles.
• Tim McManus, ESPN.com Eagles writer: Saints 31, Eagles 23
A banged-up defense that has just seven takeaways this season (tied for 28th) faces a red-hot Drew Brees, who has thrown just one interception all season. It feels like New Orleans can put up 30 points without much effort, while Philly has scored more than 24 points just once all year.
• Mike Triplett, ESPN.com Saints writer: Saints 30, Eagles 25
The Saints have the longest win streak in the NFL (eight straight games), but they also have the league’s longest active losing streak against defending Super Bowl champions, according to ESPN Stats & Information (also eight straight, dating back to 2003). The bet here is the Saints stay hot after scoring a ridiculous 96 points over the past two weeks.
• Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Saints 38, Eagles 26
This Eagles’ offense, as compared to what it was during their Super Bowl season, is … shall we say … less than stellar. The run defense seems to have declined, as well. Philadelphia couldn’t stop Ezekiel Elliott, even with a depleted Cowboys offensive line. That Dallas unit was without All-Pro center Travis Frederick and rookie OG Connor Williams, while All-Pro OG Zack Martin was playing hurt. Still, Philly couldn’t thwart Zeke. That means it’s going to be tough sledding against Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Eagles’ secondary is depleted, and it looked that way versus the Cowboys. Going from Dak Prescott to Drew Brees, with Ronald Darby out and Jalen Mills still hobbled by a foot injury … oh, boy. Facing Brees is not timely at best, disastrous at worst. If the Eagles find themselves in the game in the fourth quarter, Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz will deserve much credit.
• CBSSports.com staff: Seven of their eight experts are picking the Saints to beat the Eagles in New Orleans. The lone exception was Jason La Canfora. Here’s a look at what Pete Prisco, who picked the Saints in a close one, had to say:
If the Eagles are going to have any chance to repeat, they have to get it going here. The problem is they are so banged up in a secondary that has to defend against Drew Brees at home. That’s a problem. Even so, I think Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense will keep them in this game. Pick: Saints 32, Eagles 30
• OddsShark: Last week, they predicted the Eagles would beat the Cowboys by close to 20 points, but we all know that didn’t happen. This week, they’re predicting the Eagles will lose by nearly 20 points in New Orleans. Maybe lightning strikes twice?
• Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Saints 30, Eagles 20
This is precisely the kind of trap into which a team could easily stumble. The Saints currently seem to be immune to that.
• Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Saints 30, Eagles 20
This one might be the final death blow for the Eagles’ playoff hopes.
• Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Saints 31, Eagles 26
The New Orleans Saints are the hottest team in professional football, but the majority of our experts feel the books have gone too far by installing New Orleans as a nine-point favorite for Sunday’s home matchup with the desperate defending champion Philadelphia Eagles.
“Vegas is daring people to take the Eagles with a nine-point spread,” Sobleski said. “It may be a sucker’s bet, but I’m your huckleberry. The Saints are obviously the NFL’s best team. Philadelphia is 4-5 overall, but its roster features plenty of talent even with all of the recent injuries, and it’s still in the NFC East hunt. Either this becomes a blowout or the Eagles surprise. It’s hard to see anything between those two points.” …
• SBNation staff: All seven experts are taking the Saints over the Birds on Sunday.
• Bleeding Green Nation staff: Typically an Eagles-heavy crowd, just three of their seven writers are picking the Eagles to win.
• NJ.com staff: All seven of their football writers are picking the Saints, including Eagles beat writer Zack Rosenblatt.
The Eagles are in dire straits, two games back in the NFC East and facing possibly the best team in the NFC, if not the league. The Saints are firing on all cylinders on offense, which is only made more difficult for the Eagles by the decimation of their secondary due to injuries. This one won’t be close, and the fans might bring out their pitchforks very soon.
PICK: Saints 45, Eagles 28
• Philly Influencer staff: All six of their writers are picking the Saints, including my neighbor Mike Diaz, a.k.a. @PhillyMike.
I’ve seen some people put their faith in Carson Wentz this week in that he will do Wentz things and, with a turnover or two, the Eagles can steal a game from the Saints. I also heard someone compare this game to the Patriots game a few years ago when they were really good and we were really mediocre and we stunned them in their own stadium.
Let me tell you, this game will be none of those things.
I’ve been to the Superdome four times for Eagles games, and they’ve only won once. It’s easily the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL. The Saints are really, really good, have the inside track at home-field advantage in the playoffs, and have the league’s MVP in Drew Brees. We are beat up and banged up and cannot score. How many points are teams in the NFL allowed to score? Whatever that number is, the Saints will score that many.
Saints: All The Points, Eagles 20.
• David Steele, Sporting News: Saints 37, Eagles 20
It’s getting late for the Eagles; that loss to the Cowboys brought the Philly back out in Philly’s fans. If they can incorporate Golden Tate better this week and the rest of the season, it can still be saved. The Saints could still hit a wall before season’s end, but the odds of it happening at home, and against a team that’s struggling to make things click the way they did last year, are slim.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Saints 38, Eagles 24
SN’s pick to win Super Bowl 53 is looking great to take care of business against the reeling Super Bowl 52 champions. The Eagles’ secondary is a mess, and last week, their once-reliable run defense was shredded by Ezekiel Elliott. Both of those developments are a nightmare ahead of a game against Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. On the other side, the Saints can stop the run, contain Zach Ertz and get after Carson Wentz, as Philadelphia lacks the speedy deep threat needed to burn New Orleans’ secondary.
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