I know the Saints don’t have a great record, but they are not a terrible team and the stats point out that they have been slightly unlucky in some categories. As always, using Sports Info Solutions. Let’s get into it!
The Eagles rank 4th in EPA out of 11 and 12 personnel and 18th from 13 personnel, I’d like to see some more 12 personnel this week as Stoll didn’t play much last week and I’d rather see less of Quez Watkins.
One slight change after last week is the amount that the Eagles are now running into stacked boxes. With 2 elite wide receivers, I would like that number to come down. If teams are going to stack the box then throw it.
The Eagles’ blitz rate has remained quite low in recent weeks and I hope that remains the case, as I will explain why later.
The Saints’ offense loves heavy personnel about as much as any team in the league. I expect to see a lot of 5-man fronts in order to match up with 12/13 personnel.
Here’s one of the weirdest stats I’ve found this year... the Saints rank 1st in positive play % when running play-action, but they have run it at the lowest amount of any team in the league. I would love to know why the Saints don’t use it but if they do use it, expect them to be successful!
The #Saints are the best team in the NFL when utilizing play action, ranking 1st in positive play rate. Fortunately for the Eagles (and everyone else they have faced), they run play action at the lowest rate in the league (about 10%)— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) December 30, 2022
This team never runs screens despite having Alvin Kamara which I find interesting. He seems like the exact type of player you want to get in space!
Well, this is the weirdest personnel I’ve seen all year. The Saints will match heavy personnel with traditional base ‘4-3’ but they run a bunch of weird stuff. I’m interested to see the 1-4-6 and how the Eagles attack it!
This defense loves man coverage. If Minshew plays, expect to see a lot of quick hitters such as slant/flat. If Hurts plays and the shoulder is fine, I expect him to run a lot against this much man coverage. This defense plays a lot of 2-man so expect a lot of underneath throws.
Eagles Offense vs. Saints Defense
This Saints’ defense is pretty good! 7th in yards per play, 10th in EPA per play and 14th in points per game is pretty decent. The thing they have really struggled to do is generate turnovers, but considering their sack rate, that feels slightly unlucky. This defense will not be a walk over, but the Eagles should look to attack it by running the ball if the Saints play a lot of 2-high.
Eagles Defense vs. Saints Offense
This Saints’ offense is also a lot better than I expected. They struggle to put points on the board, but 5.7 yards per play is pretty good. It’s incredible how negative some people are about the Eagles’ defense when you look at the numbers. I know they haven’t played a lot of elite quarterbacks, but an 11% sack rate and 5.5 yards per pass attempt is really good. I expect the defense to bounce back against an offense that lacks explosive talent, although Kamara and Chris Olave are very good.
2 Key Matchups
Don’t blitz Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton is having a surprisingly good season. He ranks pretty highly in most statistical metrics, but especially against the blitz. Dalton is a veteran quarterback who knows where his hot routes here and does well against the blitz. Against 5+ rushers, Dalton is 52/81 (64%) for 761 yards (9.4 YPA), 9 TDs and 1 INT. 9 touchdowns on only 81 attempts is pretty abusrd. Against 4 or less rushers, Dalton is 167/250 (66%) for 1734 yards (6.9 YPA), 9 TDs and 7 INTs. I know we would like Gannon to be more aggressive at times, and I still think they should bring some pressure at times, but this should not be a blitz heavy week.
Use play-action/RPOs with Minshew
Play-action data also includes RPOs, but Minshew was really effective at this last week against the Cowboys. Assuming Minshew starts again, the Eagles should continue to use a lot of play-action and RPOs because Minshew makes quick decisions and that will be needed against a Saints defense who plays a lot of man coverage. Minshew was 7/8 for 149 yards and 1 TD last week on play-action/RPOs. If you are interested, here are the plays!