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Eagles 2018 Opponent Preview: New Orleans Saints

Previewing the Eagles’ schedule.

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Bleeding Green Nation’s game-by-game preview of the Eagles’ 2018 schedule continues today with Philadelphia’s Week 11 opponent: the New Orleans Saints (Week 8 preview is here.)

The Eagles will travel down south in what appears to be their toughest game (on paper, at least) this year. Beating the Saints in the Superdome will be no easy task for these Birds.

We all know New Orleans can put up points. Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game despite the fact he turns 40 in January. Alvin Kamara has the potential to be one of most dangerous weapons in the league; he scored 13 touchdowns and had 1,554 yards from scrimmage as a rookie last year. Wide receiver Michael Thomas was the most valuable non-quarterback player in the NFL in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. Jim Schwartz and the Eagles’ defense will have their hands full trying to slow those guys.

The Saints’ defense isn’t as good as their offense but it’s still good. New Orleans ranked No. 8 in defensive DVOA last season. (The entire team as a whole ranked No. 1.) Rookie Mashon Lattimore showed the makings of being a shutdown cornerback with five interceptions, 18 passes defensed, and one forced fumble. Three-time Pro Bowl selection Cameron Jordan is one of the league’s top pass rushers.

This game could easily be a shootout.

Thankfully Doug Pederson did his best to already give the Birds an edge by winning a golf bet with Sean Payton. The Eagles will wear midnight green for this road game. Philadelphia was 11-0 in those jerseys last year.

Hopefully Pederson absolutely owning Payton on the golf course didn’t give the latter too much extra motivation to get revenge during the regular season.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the Saints from our SB Nation colleagues over at Canal Street Chronicles.

Notable free agent additions: WR Cameron Meredith (Bears), S Kurt Coleman (Panthers), LB Demario Davis (Jets), CB Patrick Robinson (Eagles), TE Benjamin Watson (Ravens), QB Tom Savage (Texans), OL Jermon Bushrod (Dolphins), DE Alex Okafor (re-signed)

Over / under: 9.5 wins - Will take the over, predicting at least 10 to 11. The first half of the Saints schedule is favorable, but their back half is where you’ll see a lot of great matchups and where the NFC South will ultimately decided.

Rookie I’m most excited about: Marcus Davenport. The Saints gave up a lot to get a piece of the defense that was desperately needed. Head coach Sean Payton stressed the importance of affecting the quarterback during the offseason, and Davenport looks to enter and make a pretty sizable impact. All of the talk points to how ‘raw’ Davenport is, but he’s been impressive during OTAs and minicamp, and it’s only going to get more interesting once training camp kicks off.

Best position battle heading into camp: Running back - Who gets to play second fiddle to Alvin Kamara? New Orleans will be without Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season, and Kamara is only expected to get 10-15 touches in the running game early on. So, there’s a lot of competition for the playing time behind him. Veterans Terrance West and Shane Vereen are obviously the big names competing for a spot on the roster, but they’ll have to upend returning players Trey Edmunds and Jonathan Williams. The wild card here is rookie Boston Scott, who has really flashed on the field so far with his Darren Sproles-esque skill set.

Biggest storyline heading into camp: Can the Saints filter out all the noise and buzz surrounding them? New Orleans had a terrific rebound season after three straight 7-9 campaigns, and with their superb draft hits from 2016 and 2017 (2015 with Andrus Peat deserves a mention), there’s a lot of hype on the Saints train. Naturally, last season ended on a bit of a fluke, and this young group will be tested with a lot of pressure building.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into camp: The backup quarterback battle is something to keep an eye on, as Chase Daniel left for the Bears in free agency. Veteran Tom Savage signed a one-year deal in the offseason, while Taysom Hill should go from being a special teamster to getting more reps at his actual position. Rookie J.T. Barrett has a ways to go, so essentially this battle comes down to Savage vs. Hill. Backing up Drew Brees essentially feels like glorified clipboard duty, but it’ll be interesting to see if Hill can impress enough to warrant the Saints carrying just two quarterbacks. It’s one of the five questions I had entering training camp.

Notable injuries heading into training camp: Free agent acquisition Cameron Meredith (knee) would be the first player to watch for. His hope is to be cleared for training camp, but don’t be surprised to see the Saints take their time in bringing him back onto the field. Offensive guard Andrus Peat, who broke his fibula against the Panthers in the Wild Card Round, is reportedly on track to be back at camp. The other area to watch are the pass rushers. Cameron Jordan had minor offseason foot surgery, so that’s worth keeping an eye on. Alex Okafor is returning from a nasty Achilles injury suffered against the Bears last season, while Trey Hendrickson (undisclosed) has been present but not participating.


Do you think the Eagles will beat the New Orleans Saints?

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