The Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) are hosting the New Orleans Saints (5-4) at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. In order to preview this Week 11 game, I reached out to our enemies over at Canal Street Chronicles. The courteous Chris Conner kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at the answers.
1 - What’s the confidence level in Trevor Siemian? It seems like Sean Payton can have the Saints playing competitive football no matter who’s under center.
It’s pretty high, but honestly, it’s that’s not a surprise with Sean and the coaching staff. He’s proven throughout his time in New Orleans that he can put together a successful game plan with almost anyone who steps up if he gets the time. What’s even more impressive about the Siemian chapter is the trust Payton has given him when you consider the lack of weapons and injures. Trevor had handled it well and appears to just be a cool and calming presence which helps immensely given the current circumstances. This doesn’t mean that Sean couldn’t eventually turn to Taysom Hill, nor is it saying that Trevor is the long-term answer, but in regards to this season? You couldn’t ask for anything more than what Trevor has provided.
2 - Who’s an under-the-radar player to watch out for on both offense and defense?
Offensively, it has to be wide receiver, Deonte Harris. Most people may know Harris for his special teams talents as a returner, but this year he’s impacted games as a deep threat almost every game, as well as shown improvement running short and intermediate routes. Harris currently leads the Saints in yards, and seems to be carving himself an essential role all over the field as a weapon, for a team that desperately needs it.
Defensively, how about Marcus Davenport? When people think about the New Orleans Saints defensive line the first person who comes to mind is Cam Jordan. But who currently leads the Saints in sacks and overall pressure productivity? It’s Davenport, who’s only played five games as we stand. The Saints have been waiting for Davenport to put it all together since being drafted in which the Saints paid a hefty price. His health has played a large role in his effectiveness and simply being available, but when Davenport is on the field it’s no question the Saints are a different defensive unit.
3 - What is the Saints’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
The biggest strength for the Saints right now is their ability to stop the run and make teams one-dimensional. They’re the best team statistically against the run and haven’t finished outside the top four since 2017. Neither team gives away the football, both totaling eight give-aways for the season, so we’re probably looking at a battle of who blinks first. Time of possession is the number I’d be looking at as I expect the Saints to run the football heavy. If there’s a place to attack Philly’s defense, that’s where I’d start, in a game New Orleans needs to win to get back on track.
4 - What is the Saints’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
Their passing game offensively. We’ve talked about Siemian playing well, but it’s still a weakness. And as good as he’s looked, his weapons haven’t been consistent as pass catchers and there’s a reason that Trevor is a backup in this league. The Eagles should force the Saints’ receiving talents to create consistent separation. Tennesee played a ton of man coverage last weekend, believed in their secondary on one end, and their defensive line to eventually create pressure against a banged-up New Orleans offensive line on the other. Until the Saints can consistently prove Sean Payton’s confidence about their receiving talent right, opposing teams should force those guys to beat them.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Saints season?
The Saints lost two heartbreakers back to back after facing double-digit deficits. In neither game did they truly help themselves from a discipline and attention to detail perspective, but as they’ve continued to do, they found themselves with a chance to win the game at the end no matter the missing parts. I can’t see the Saints losing three in a row and I expect them to be motivated as they can’t continue to lose these kinds of games if they want to be playing post-season football. I expect a Saints victory in a close, low-scoring matchup.
As for the rest of the season, it’s really hard to say, but I think they’ll be in a lot of close games against good opponents, they’ll surprise in some, maybe disappoint in others, but this team will fight at the end of the day. I think that’s enough with the talent available on this team along the coaching staff to earn a wildcard berth at worst.