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MNF - Eagles at Saints

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A pivotal game takes place for two desperate teams in the NFC on Monday night in New Orleans, as the Saints and Eagles each try to get back into the playoff race. Philadelphia has seen plenty of controversy this season with the whispers of Michael Vick being replaced at quarterback after posting a 3-4 record through seven games. That's nothing compared to all the talk around the Saints since "Bountygate," culminating in a dreadful 2-5 mark.

The Saints have endured plenty of hardships this season with head coach Sean Payton suspended and all the flux surrounding this team with the "Bountygate" fallout. New Orleans stumbled to an 0-4 start, which included an embarrassing overtime loss to Kansas City in Week 3 in which the Saints threw away a 24-6 lead. Things have relatively improved over the last month, as the Saints have won two of its last three, but that was topped off by a rout at the hands of New Orleans native Peyton Manning and the Broncos in last Sunday's 34-14 Denver victory.

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The Eagles are trying to dig out of a hole, even though a victory would get Andy Reid's team back to .500. Philadelphia is coming off three consecutive defeats, including an ugly 30-17 home loss to Atlanta, in which the Eagles fell behind, 24-7 at the half. The offense is coming apart at the seams, as the Eagles have been outgained in three straight games, while Vick is throwing an interception for every touchdown (8/8). The Eagles have cashed just two of seven times this season, but one of those covers came as a road underdog at Pittsburgh in a 14-13 loss back in Week 5.

New Orleans won and covered all nine games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last season, but the lone victory this season came in Week 5 against San Diego. The Saints needed to rally from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, as Drew Brees burned his former team for four touchdowns. Since 2008, New Orleans owns a strong 14-3 ATS record as a home favorite of less than seven points, as the two earlier non-covers against Washington and Kansas City came when laying at least 8 ½ points.

Philadelphia is visiting the Big Easy for the first time since December 2007, a 38-23 victory over New Orleans as three-point 'dogs. The Saints picked up revenge against the Eagles in the most recent meeting in Philadelphia, a 48-22 blowout in Week 2 of 2009, as Brees tossed three touchdowns in the win.

New Orleans is playing under the Monday night lights for the first time since blowing out Atlanta in Week 16 of last season, 45-16. The Saints have won five straight Monday night contests at the Superdome dating back to 2008, while covering four times in this span. The Eagles are also making their 2012 Monday debut, as Philadelphia has cashed its last four road games under the Monday night lights since 2006.

One thing to keep an eye for the Eagles is the 5-1 ATS record as a road underdog since 2010, including four outright victories. If the Eagles want to get back in the playoff picture, the next three weeks are crucial for tiebreaker purposes. After Monday's game (a loss could put a fork in New Orleans), the Eagles play two divisional opponents as the Cowboys invade Philadelphia, followed by a trip to Washington. In fact, the Eagles play only one non-conference team the rest of the way (Bengals in Week 15).

The Saints don't have it easy at home coming up, with the Falcons and 49ers coming to Louisiana over the next month, while New Orleans has to travel to Oakland in Week 11. Monday's game will feature the seventh time the Saints have a total of at least 50, hitting the 'over' four of the first six opportunities in this situation.

New Orleans is listed as three-point home favorites on Monday, as the total is set between 51 ½ and 52 at most books. The game kicks off at 8:30 PM EST and can be seen nationally on ESPN.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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