Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM
DP- Eagles at Saints
Editor's Note: Antony Dinero went 3-1 is in Saturday's Divisional Playoffs and is on a 35-25-2 (58.3%, +772) run since Dec. 13. He went 51-23 (68.9%, +2502) in October and hit 22 of 32 totals (68.8%, +1115). Dinero is 205-180-10 (53.2% , +271) for the entire 2018 regular and postseason. Don't miss out on NFL Winners from Antony Dinero on VegasInsider.com this postsesaon. Click to win!
Philadelphia at New Orleans (-8. 51.5), 4:40 pm ET, FOX
To be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champs.
Ric Flair didn’t come up with that as an original thought, but he’s gotten full credit for popularizing it, which is fair. “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” doesn’t necessarily ring true in the NFL since you can win a Super Bowl without having to go through the reigning champion, but the Eagles managed to do exactly that last Feb. 4, dethroning New England.
The Saints, currently the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl (5-to-2 at Westgate Superbook), adding the Eagles to their list of victims would make for a nice touch. If Philadelphia pulls off an upset, it would increase the legend of backup QB and reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles in addition to putting them one win away from another shot at a ring.
The Rams await the winner of this final divisional playoff matchup and will either visit the Saints for a duel between the NFC’s top-scoring teams or host the Eagles for the second time in just over a month.
Philadelphia is only alive because they survived the Rams in L.A. in Week 15 as nearly-two touchdown underdogs, won a wild game against the Texans at home the next Sunday and then blanked the overmatched Redskins while getting help from the Bears to close December. In a morbid coincidence if you’re Chicago, the fact it went into Minnesota and upset the Vikings in Week 17, set up last week’s game against the Eagles.
Chicago kicker Cody Parkey got his game-winning field goal attempt tipped and ultimately clanked off the upright before falling harmlessly to the ground to ensure an upset, so the Eagles are clearly on their ninth life as they invade the Superdome.
Foles executed on a fourth-down TD pass to Golden Tate to finish off a wild go-ahead drive against the NFL’s most feared defense last weekend and now looks to succeed where predecessor Carson Wentz failed. Back on Nov. 18, the Saints intercepted Philly’s franchise QB three times in a 48-7 rout, dropping the Eagles to 4-6 on the season.
What makes the Eagles most dangerous in this return trip to the Superdome is that they’ve stared their demise in the eyes multiple times and have lived to tell about it. After getting back to .500, Wentz being lost for the season after an OT loss to the Cowboys saw the team’s odds plummet from 30-to-1 to win the NFC and 60-to-1 to repeat as champs to 150-to-1 and 300-to-1 at the Westgate Superbook.
They’ve come all the way back by getting healthier and riding Foles’ arm, which has really produced results down the stretch. The Eagles got only a Josh Adams touchdown run in the first meeting between these teams and amassed 156 yards through the air, so head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh have to put a more effective game plan together to face a Saints defense that is often overshadowed by Drew Brees and the flashy offense but has been great in its own right.
Although they gave up 61 points in the final two regular-season games, the Saints went through a six-game stretch between Nov. 11-Dec. 17 where they allowed an average of 12.3 points. Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins have been tremendous up front, while the New Orleans secondary has really flourished. Philadelphia will likely try to break big plays to tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but they’ll need to establish the running game to truly have success on the road. The Saints ranked second in the NFL in allowing just 80.2 yards per game.
Left tackle Jason Peters was the Eagles’ biggest injury concern last week but played well through a nagging quad issue and is good to go here. The Eagles didn’t play a perfect game against the Bears last week, but did enough when it had to against an elite defense to inspire confidence that they’ll be able to execute inside a dome without the elements being a factor.
It’s a given that the Saints will move the ball against an Eagles defense they torched so effectively that five different players scored touchdowns, which doesn’t include Brees, who threw for four. New Orleans handed the Eagles the worst loss ever suffered by a Super Bowl champ, the most lopsided setback suffered under Pederson.
There are a number of names back from a championship-winning defense, but it hasn’t exactly been championship-caliber at all this season. Fletcher Cox remains a force up front, but a secondary that was viewed as a weakness before holding up nicely in Chicago will now get a grueling test from Brees, an effective group of receivers and running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Philadelphia will get a key body back, which you can read about below in the injury report.
New Orleans went 6-2 at home this season, faltering in the season opener against Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Tampa Bay and a setback to Carolina in the meaningless finale. The Eagles are 5-4 on the road after winning in Chicago and are 0-2 in enclosed stadiums.
This will be the second playoff game matching Brees and Foles. The teams met in the Wild Card round after the ’13 season in a game that kicker Shayne Graham won on a 32-yard FG at the gun after Ertz game Philadelphia the lead on a touchdown reception from Foles with 4:54 to go. New Orleans also beat Philadelphia in the divisional round of ’06 season, winning 27-24 by keeping the Eagles out of the end zone after the opening drive of the second half. All of the results of Brees’ encounters against Philly since joining the Saints are available below.
New Orleans would prefer a lot less drama in this contest than it has had to survive through in the last two playoff matchups with the Eagles, but all that matters is getting through. For that reason, taking the points might be tempting since Philadelphia has been so hard to eliminate these past few weeks. Clearly, a fighting spirit remains. Is there anything left? The Eagles are 2-2 SU and ATS as an underdog this season.
Projected season win total: 10.5 (Over +130, Under -150)
Preseason odds to win NFC East: 5/7
Odds to win NFC (Preseason/Current): 7/1 to 9/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (Preseason/Current): 14/1 to 18/1
New Orleans Saints
Projected season win total: 9.5 (Over -140, Under +120)
Preseason Odds to win NFC South: 6/5
Odds to win NFC (Preseason/Current): 7/1 to 2/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (Preseason/Current): 14/1 to 9/2
FUTURES OUTCOMES/LINE MOVEMENT
The Saints came through as the NFC South favorite, while Dallas cashed at +350 over the favored defending champion Eagles (5-to-7) to win NFC East futures. The Eagles' NFC and Super Bowl odds were actually better prior to Week 1 than they are entering this divisional playoff since they went into last week's Wild card game against the Bears at 30-to-1 to win the Super Bowl and 15-to-1 to win the NFC before seeing those odds improve to their current levels post-upset.
As far as this matchup is concerned, the Saints opened at -10.5 at someafter Philadelphia upset Chicago, but most books favored New Orleans by 9. Money came in on the defending champs to knock the spread down to 7.5 earlier in the week, but most books now list the Saints as a chalk of 8/8.5. New Orleans opened at -400 on the money line and has seen that number come down to the -350 to -380 range. If you like Philly outright, a payout on a road upset at the Superdome would get you +300 to +325.
New Orleans is healthier than it has been all season, giving talented tackle Terron Armstead (shoulder) and guard Larry Warford (knee) a clean bill of health to help protect Brees.
The Eagles are without multiple regulars in their secondary, but that's not a new issue and the replacements who have taken their spots really stepped up last week. Reinforcements are on their way since CB Sidney Jones (hamstring) is set to return. WR Mike Wallace (ankle) is also in line to return after missing the past few weeks.
Sunday afternoon's total opened at 51 or 51.5 depending on the book. It got down to 50.5 at most shops mid-week but is now back in the 51/51.5 range. There are no weather concerns to monitor since this divisional playoff will be played indoors. The 'over' has prevailed in the last two Saints games but still went just 7-9 due to totals being set so high on the NFL's third-highest scoring team. This will likely be the 14th game involving New Orelans that closes with a number higher than 50. The 'under' is 10-7 in Eagles' games..
Weekly “Total Talk” writer Chris David of VegasInsider.com provided his thoughts on this matchup and both Sunday contests here:
RECENT MEETINGS (New Orleans 6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS last eight; OVER 5-3)
11/18/18 New Orleans vs. Philadelphia 48-7 (NO -7, 56.5)
10/11/15 Philadelphia 39-17 vs. New Orleans (PHI -6, 49.5)
1/4/14 New Orleans 26-24 at Philadelphia (NO +3, 54.5)
11/5/12 New Orleans 28-13 vs. Philadelphia (NO -3, 52)
9/20/09 New Orleans 48-22 at Philadelphia (NO -2.5, 46)
12/23/07 Philadelphia 38-23 at New Orleans (PHI +3, 48)
1/13/07 New Orleans 27-24 vs. Philadelphia (PHI +4.5, 48.5)
10/15/06 New Orleans 27-24 vs. Philadelphia (NO +3, 47)
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA