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The Saints run game; "Much better?"

This weekend's game is the classic scenario for a  letdown. The Birds are coming off an epic win at home vs a hated divisional rival and they now have to go on the road against a surprisingly resurgent Saints teams. The Saints(4-1) are leading the NFC South, the division they finished last in last year...

The Eagles and Saints starts mirror each other in several ways. They both racked up 3 wins against some of the worst teams in football, they both have an inspiring home win against a quality divisional rival, and they both have a tough late game loss to a divisional rival. For the Eagles, this game represents a chance to get a quality road win that would fully cement them as one of the top 5 teams in  the NFL right now. For the Saints, it's a chance to beat another quality team and prove that their defeat of Atlanta was more than just a one time emotional experience.

I'll get into a game preview later this week, but in reading a prediction about this game, I saw something interesting that I had to investigate. Vinnie Iyer from the Sporting News wrote:

Both coaches have plenty of reliable options, starting with the quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb is in a zone for Reid, spreading the ball around all over the field and when that doesn't work, spreading his wings and taking off downfield. Drew Brees may not be lighting it up the same way, but he has a much better running game to lean on with Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.

Certainly on face value that makes sense. Deuce McAllister is a quality back with size and power, Reggie Bush is a Brian Westbrook type all purpose back... But are they "much better?" The stats don't say so...

As a team the Eagles are rushing for more yards a game than the Saints. 114 y/g compared to 111 y/g. The Eagles have rushed for 570 yards and the Saints for 556. Westbrook has 4 rushing TDs as does McAllister. Add in McNabb's 3 rusing TDs and the Eagles have rushed more TDs than the Saints.

So I have to ask, how does a team with less total rushing yards(in the same amount of games, less rushing yards a game, and less rushing TDs have a "much better" running game than another? To me, it's all about perception.

McAllister is only getting about 16 carries a game. Bush gets 10. Westbrook is getting about 13, Buckhalter about 7. The gap is not that wide...

It should be noted that Iyer picked the Eagles to win 27-24...

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