Sunday sees the Saints (5-4) and Eagles (4-6) clash at Lincoln Financial Field for Week 11, as New Orleans looks to avoid losing three straight. Despite a two-game skid, Sean Payton's squad is still holding the 6th seed in the NFC postseason race, as this NFL season has seen a lot of upsets and has been fairly unpredictable. The Saints are certainly facing the odds this week, and to state that this game has a great deal of importance is probably an understatement.
What to Watch For
Controlling the Ground Attack. The Saints put their No. 1 run defense on the line against Jalen Hurts and a talented backfield. Mobile quarterbacks have given New Orleans fits in the past, and it's a focal point in this matchup.
Dennis Allen talked about this on Thursday, saying, "Anytime you have the element of a quarterback that's able to run the football, it creates math in favor of the offense, because you have to account for the quarterback on every single play."
"So, there's going to be some plays where you might play against a quarterback that doesn't have the ability to run the football and they run a gun formation to hand the ball off, but you're not really that concerned about defending the quarterback. When you play a team like this, if you don't account for the quarterback, (Jalen Hurts) can really hurt you in the run game."
Perhaps running a spy on him all game will do the trick or at least help, which could fall to either Kwon Alexander or Pete Werner.
Starting Strong. The Saints have been a team that has had to rally and mount a comeback in their past couple of games, and they've fallen short in both of them. This is a chance for the team to get started on the right foot so they don't have to. Last year's game against the Eagles comes to mind, as Philly took control of that game early and got up to a 17-0 lead by the half. Put it this way, New Orleans can't afford to get down early again.
Limit the Margin for Error. It certainly feels like this is a must-win game for the Saints, as they have the Bills and Cowboys right behind the Eagles. Playing 3 games in 11 days is certainly a brutal stretch in the schedule, but the reality is that New Orleans is very much in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Penalties, turnovers, and drops highlight the problems the Saints have had in losses. They don't have to be perfect to win, but they do need to execute at a strong level in order to not shoot themselves in the foot and produce things like long down and distance due to penalties or botch extra points.
Next Man Up. The team is dealing with several key injuries, and the verdict is out on who will or won't play on Sunday. Among those include their starting tackles in Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead, Taysom Hill, Alvin Kamara, Tanoh Kpassagnon, and Malcolm Roach. It's not like you can foresee this type of stuff happening, but in situations like this on the schedule, availability is everything, and it really leaves a lot to the imagination when you drop games to the Falcons and Giants.
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