Somehow we keep coming back to this Saints and Eagles matchup. It’s a fairly interesting contest brewing here and for several reasons since neither team was a sure thing for the playoffs back in May.
To begin with, both the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles had some major questions that needed to be answered prior to the start of the season. For the Saints, the return of Sean Payton was a major issue. Having been gone for a year, few could guess how his presence would affect the current crop of players. Secondly, coming off of a terrible season defensively, Rob Ryan was faced with the tall order of turning a historically bad defense into a good one, or at least an acceptable NFL defense.
Payton’s return has been solid if not spectacular. New Orleans went from 7-9 to 11-5 and a playoff berth. The Saints defense went from dead last to #5. An astounding improvement. But the New Orleans Saints still have to answer some questions. Can the Saints shake their 3-5 road blues? Can Drew Brees win a playoff game on the road? Can New Orleans stop the potent Eagles offense in hostile territory?
The Philadelphia Eagles were also an unknown element prior to the season. Chip Kelly and his offense came out of college full of confidence but untested in the NFL. The quarterback position was also an unknown with Michael Vick trying to run things. Apparently, the Chip Kelly offense works just fine at the pro level. It just doesn’t work as well with Vick as it does with Nick Foles. The second year quarterback has had his problems but overall he’s been exactly what Kelly needed. Now the Eagles have won the NFC East and they’ve actually won some games at home, a major feat.
Can the Philadelphia Eagles take the next step with Chip Kelly? Can New Orleans be the next Wild Card Traveler to get to a Super Bowl? Perhaps the biggest question of all: Can either of these teams beat the Seattle Seahawks?Eric Drouant