The Saints don’t just have the best run defense in the league.
They have one of the best in NFL history.
That’s what the Eagles’ new-found running attack is up against Sunday.
The Saints have allowed 65.6 rushing yards this year, which is 9th-lowest ever recorded and 6th-lowest in the last 50 years through 10 games.
This is the ultimate test for Nick Sirianni. Does he stick with the run if it doesn’t produce immediate results or does he revert back to the Nick Sirianni of early in the season, when the running backs were barely an afterthought in his offense and Jalen Hurts was asked to pass virtually every single snap.
The Saints have allowed 100 rushing yards only once this year. Washington ran for 131 yards although it took them 33 carries. The only teams to average 4.0 yards per carry or better against the Saints were the Giants (4.2) and Buccaneers (5.1).
Only five backs have even gotten 10 carries against the Saints, and four of them averaged 3.0 yards per carry or worse. Saquon Barkley was the most successful back against New Orleans with 13-for-52 for 4.0 yards a pop back in Week 2.
The last 100-yard rushers vs. the Saints? How about Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders, who both did it last December when the Eagles beat the Saints 24-21.
They are the only 100-yard rushers the Saints have allowed since November of 2017.
As good as the Saints are against the run in the 1st half, allowing 3.4 yards per carry, they’re even better as the game goes on, allowing 2.7 in the 2nd half and a ridiculous 2.1 in the 4th quarter (on 48-for-101).
“Very good d-line, very good linebackers, probably the most active linebackers we’ll see,” Lane Johnson said. “I got (defensive end) Cam Jordan this week so tremendous matchup for me. (Defensive end) Marcus Davenport, also a great player and (inside linebacker) Demario Davis is very instinctive and breaks up a lot of run game schemes.”
Davis has been with the Saints since 2018. Not coincidentally, the Saints are the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL since then, allowing 86 yards per game. That’s five yards better than anybody else.
Now match up that defense against an Eagles offense that’s No. 3 in the NFL at 144 rushing yards per game and No. 4 at 5.0 yards per carry.
“They’re really stout up front,” Sirianni said. “They're really good in that front seven, and I'm not taking anything away from the back end either because they're good there, too. They just have a lot of good pieces there.
“I've always had a lot of respect for (Saints defensive coordinator) Dennis Allen defenses. When I was in the AFC West, he was in the AFC West a lot of those years, as well. His scheme and his ability to coach the technique to the guys and how the guys play for him has always really stood out to me. I just have a lot of respect for him as a coach.”
The Eagles have rushed for at least 175 yards in three straight games, matching their longest streak since 1950.
Boston Scott, Jordan Howard and Hurts are all among the top 10 rushers in the NFL over the last three weeks. And now the Eagles get Sanders back after a three-week layoff with an ankle injury.
“Everybody’s really running the ball really well right now no matter who we give it to so try to keep that going,” Johnson said. “Moving forward these teams are going to try to stop the run and make us force the pass or change it up, we know that.”
Talk about the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force.
The Eagles are going to do everything they can to run the ball. The Saints are going to do everything they can to stop it.
Whoever wins that matchup on the line of scrimmage is probably going to win the game.
“That's a stout front seven, and they're physical, but we're physical, too,” Sirianni said. “So we're going to have to match their physicality. They're going to have to match our physicality.”