We’re just over 24 hours away from the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs getting underway, as the countdown continues to the Super Bowl. There are four juicy ties for fans to sink their teeth into over the course of the next few days, and in the final of our four previews, we’re ready to take a look at two teams who will be harboring very realistic ambitions of going all the way.
We are, of course, talking about the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s one of two 1st vs 6th seed games that will take place this weekend, but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. After all, this is no regular 6th seed: this is the reigning world champion gruelinghia Eagles that we’re talking about.
Of course, some fans will suggest that the advantage is still with the Saints in this one, given that they sat out last weekend whereas the Eagles went through a gruelling game against the Chicago Bears. They were able to persevere and get the victory, though, setting them up for what could prove to be another miraculous run to the Super Bowl.
The Saints will be really confident in their chances of going all the way in the wake of a fantastic 13-3 season. It’s only the third time they’ve been able to accumulate that kind of record after 2009 and 2011, but they can’t afford to get carried away. They’ve had a lot of time to think about what they’re going to go in this game, and there’s always the risk of that being a bad thing.
The Eagles finished up with a 9-7 record, just about managing to edge their way into a wildcard spot. Many fans have already begun noticing similarities between this season and the last, although their underdog tag has never been quite as evident as it is right now. That’s pretty uncommon, too, given that they’re the reigning champs.
As you’d expect the number one seed will have the advantage of playing on their home field throughout the course of the playoffs, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome has certainly been a bit of a fortress for New Orleans over the years. Now, it’s just a case of getting the crowd hyped up for what is sure to be a long and stressful night.
The mental side of the game is going to come into play here more so than it probably will in the other three encounters, and there’s a lot to be said for that. In truth, we believe it’ll come down to mental toughness as opposed to the overall skill of one particular team on the day.
Drew Brees vs Nick Foles is one of those quarterback matchups where you don’t really want to see either guy lose (as a neutral, that is). Brees is happy to get into a shootout which is where we believe he’ll try and take this game, whereas Foles will rest on the shoulders of his Philly defense frustrating New Orleans before he can start unleashing his weapons. Both work well under pressure, and both know what it’s like to win the big one.
The other matchup which could decide this game, in our mind, will be the Eagles’ receivers going up against the corners of the Saints. Marshon Lattimore is a machine but Eli Apple has been known to struggle against the Eagles in the past, and we’re expecting Philadelphia to test him as often as they possibly can.
The smart money in the eyes of most is on the home team, the New Orleans Saints, with BetOnline giving them an -8 spread in comparison to the Eagles’ +8. On the money line, Brees’ squad are -375 favorites, with Philadelphia playing the role of the +315 underdogs. Bovada also favors New Orleans at -8.
The same theme runs over at MyBookie, with the Eagles being the +295 underdogs with the Saints being priced at -385. The spread is slightly different with the Saints being favored at -7 ½ and the Eagles being +7 ½.
It seems as if there’s money to be made on the potential upset, here, with many fans and pundits alike forgetting what Nick Foles and the Eagles are capable of in the postseason. This is a great and fresh Saints side and they’re probably the rightful favorites, but if you’re looking towards a shock this weekend, then you should keep an eye on the Superdome this weekend.
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