Eagles

Key matchups in Eagles-Saints focuses on two competing strengths

Eagles

The Eagles (4-6) are at home this week, hosting the Saints (5-4) as they go for their first win at the Linc this season.

Here are five matchups to watch:

Eagles’ run game vs. NFL’s top run defense

Something has to give on Sunday. The Eagles have seemingly found their offensive formula, rushing for at least 175 yards in three consecutive games. And it sounds like they might even get Miles Sanders back to add to a rushing attack that has been featuring Jordan Howard, Boston Scott and, of course, Jalen Hurts.

But they’re about to face the NFL’s best rushing defense.

Here’s where the Saints rank in every important rushing defense category:

Yards allowed: 1st

Yards per attempt: 1st

Rushing touchdowns: 5th

The Saints have given up over 100 yards on the ground just once in nine games this season. In their four games since the bye week, they’re giving up an average of just 65.25 yards per game on the ground.

So this will be fascinating. Will the Eagles’ offensive line still be able to get enough push to be effective on the ground? And will Nick Sirianni stick with the run even if he doesn’t find success early in the game?

Trevor Siemian vs. Jonathan Gannon

Maybe this is oversimplifying things, but take a look at the difference in quarterbacks in the Eagles’ wins and their losses this season:

Wins: Matt Ryan, Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, Teddy Bridgewater

Losses: Jimmy Garoppolo, Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Justin Herbert

 

It’s probably a little unfair to say the Eagles beat bad quarterbacks and lose to good ones, but there’s a clear correlation to the QB and how well the defense performs. Duh. Last week was a good test for the Eagles because Bridgewater isn’t great but he is very accurate and he wasn’t very accurate against them.

Here comes Trevor Siemian, NFL journeyman. In his two starts this season, the Saints are 0-2, losing to the Falcons and Titans. Siemian has completed just 57.7% of his passes for 706 yards. But he does have five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s been OK. We’ll see if an OK Siemian and a good defense is enough for the Saints against the Eagles.

DeVonta Smith vs. Marshon Lattimore

DeVonta Smith appears to be a budding superstar. He’s coming off his first career two-touchdown game and now has 42/603/4, which means he’s on pace for a 71/1,025/7 season, which would break the Eagles’ rookie record for receiving yards in a season.

In this game, he’ll be facing Lattimore, the Saints’ first-round pick back in 2017, who has been to three Pro Bowls in his first four NFL seasons.

In this game, we’ll probably see a lot of Lattimore on Smith in this game, which will be a nice test for the budding superstar.

Lane Johnson vs. Cameron Jordan

Last week, Lane Johnson got off a little easier than he originally anticipated. When the schedule came out and he saw the Broncos in Week 10, he expected a matchup against Von Miller. But Miller was traded to the Rams before that could happen. He won’t get off easy this week.

Because when the Saints come to town this week, Johnson will have to face the six-time Pro Bowler. Jordan has been to four straight Pro Bowls. In nine games this season, he has just 3 sacks but he’s still been very effective.

What makes Jordan so good?

“Just probably his all-around play,” Johnson said. “He’s bigger than most edge guys. He’s probably around 290 so he does a good job of stopping the run as well as all the sacks he’s had over his career.”

Alvin Kamara vs. Eagles defense

The Saints didn’t have Alvin Kamara for last week’s game because of a knee injury but he returned to practice this week. So there’s a chance they’ll have him back this Sunday in Philly.

Kamara, 26, is clearly one of the best running backs in the NFL. In eight games this season, Kamara has 530 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. His yards per attempt is down to 3.6 this season but he’s still very good in the passing game. He has 32 catches for 310 yards and another 4 touchdowns.

The good news for the Eagles is they have really limited the damage from opposing running backs recently. They gave up 100+ yards on the ground the first seven games of the season but have held the opposition under 100 yards in each of the lsat three games.

 

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