Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Canal Street Chronicles in order to preview this week’s Philadelphia Eagles versus New Orleans Saints playoff matchup. (You can read that here.) Today, we’re back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each team’s weaknesses, rather than just being homers.
So, below are three reasons why the Saints could lose, as written by Canal Street Chronicles’s Chris Dunnells (@dunnellz). To see why I think the Eagles could lose, check out CSC.
1. Drew Brees is sacked multiple times
During a run from Weeks 5-12 the Saints offense was firing on all cylinders at home. They scored 43 against Washington, 45 against the Rams, 48 against the Eagles, and 31 against the Falcons. During that time, the Saints had a healthy offensive line and Drew Brees was sacked a total of four times in the 8 weeks combined.
Then from weeks 13-16 (four weeks), Drew Brees was sacked 7 times - almost double the number of sacks in half the time. This Saints offensive line missed Terron Armstead during a big chunk of that time, and it’s yet to be determined if Armstead will suit up against the Eagles in the divisional round. If he’s not able to go, the Saints offensive line will likely struggle against a talented Philadelphia front. If the Eagles can sack Drew multiple times in the game, it would be a good sign for the Eagles’ chances of winning.
2. Michael Thomas is held to under 50 receiving yards
The Saints have only lost three games this season, and one of those games was the Ryan FitzMagic Week 1 game where neither side decided to play defense. In the other two losses, Michael Thomas was held to 40 yards against the Cowboys and 29 yards against the Panthers. Thomas otherwise averaged roughly 90 yards per game in each of the Saints wins.
If you focus in on Michael Thomas in the passing game and refuse to let him beat you, then you’ve gone a long way to stopping Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense.
3. The Saints hold the ball for less than 28:00 minutes
The only other consistency in the Saints three losses is time of possession. Not turnover ratio, third down conversion rate, or any other situational statistic tells the tale quite like time of possession.
In the Saints three losses - against Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Carolina - the Saints time of possession went like this: 27:51, 23:07, and 26:34. The next lowest would be the Saints Week 16 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers with 28:40 and the Week 8 win over the Minnesota Vikings with 28:37. In the vast majority of the Saints wins, they averaged well over 30 minutes in time of possession, with some games - like the Week 10 game against the Cincinnati Bengals - approaching 40 minutes (39:46 vs Cincinnati, and 37:34 against the Eagles as a frame of reference).
The Saints offense relies on long, sustained drives to tire opposing defenses. Contrary to years passed, this is not an offense that focuses on quick strikes and big plays. No, this Saints team would prefer to milk the clock with a balanced attack on the ground and in the air in order to win the game.