Eagles scouting report for their wild-card playoff game with New Orleans

After intercepting the ball from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton (18), Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) celebrates with inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) during the first half Sunday in Arlington, Texas. 

AP photo by Tony Gutierrez

Records: Saints 11-5; Eagles 10-6

Line: Eagles by 2½ points Over/under: 54

TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya (NBC)

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Radio: 97.3, 94.1 FM, 610 AM

Forecast: Mostly clear, 25 degrees with a wind chill of 19 degrees (weather.com).

David Weinberg's pick: Eagles stay hot in the cold. Eagles 24, Saints 21 (season record: 11-5)

Last time met: The Saints handed the Eagles their fourth straight loss last season with a 28-13 victory at the Superdome in New Orleans on Nov. 5, 2012. The Eagles' only touchdown came on a 76-yard pass from quarterback Michael Vick to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown.

The Eagles and Saints last met in the playoffs in the 2006 season. The Saints won 27-24 in New Orleans.

Eagles' best-case scenario: The Eagles play well in all phases of the game and earn their first playoff victory since the 2008 season. Quarterback Nick Foles shakes off the frigid temperatures and throws two touchdown passes with no interceptions. Running back LeSean McCoy carries the offense by rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws two interceptions to Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin.

Eagles' worst-case scenario: They make a one-and-done exit from the playoffs for the third time in as many appearances. Foles succumbs to the pressure and a Saints pass rush and throws two interceptions. McCoy can't get on track. Brees picks apart the Eagles' defense with three touchdown passes. Tight end Jimmy Graham scores twice. Saints returner Darren Sproles returns a kickoff for a touchdown.

Keep an eye on: Sproles (No. 43). He is their most versatile player. The 5-foot-6, 190-pounder has rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns as a running back, caught 71 passes for 604 yards and two TDs, and he returns punts and kickoffs.

Notable numbers: Eagles lead series 16-12 and are 8-3 vs. the Saints at home. ... Saints have won last two meetings. ... Saints and Eagles are 1-1 in the playoffs. ... Eagles haven't won a home playoff game since the 2006 season. ... Eagles are 13-6 in home playoff games. ... Saints have never won a road playoff game, going 0-5. ... Eagles have won four straight home games after losing 10 in a row. ... Saints are 3-5 on the road this season and have lost three straight away games.

Assessing the offenses

Eagles: They stumbled a bit in Dallas last Sunday but still put up 24 points. They have scored at least 24 points in eight straight games. Foles threw two TD passes and has 27 TDs and two interceptions on the season. McCoy won the NFL rushing title with a franchise-record 1,607 yards. Jackson was a non-factor against the Cowboys but is the Eagles' top receiver with 82 catches for 1,332 yards. The offensive line had a rough outing after a series of impressive performances.

Saints: They are coming off a terrific game against Tampa Bay after some recent struggles. They scored 17 points or less in four of five games before putting up 42 against the Buccaneers. Brees had another great season, throwing for 5,162 yards with 39 TD passes and 12 interceptions. Graham leads all NFL tight ends with 86 catches and leads the league with 16 TD receptions. If they have a weakness, it's their running game. Leading rusher Pierre Thomas will miss the game with a chest injury.


Assessing the defenses

Eagles: They gave up some big plays against Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton but still allowed just 22 points. They have given up 22 points or less in 11 of their last 12 games, despite being ranked 29th in the NFL in total defense and 32nd against the pass. Linebackers Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans are the strength of the defense. Ryans leads the team with 127 tackles. Cornerback Brandon Boykin is tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions. They have forced 31 turnovers and have at least one takeaway in 12 straight games.

Saints: They have also been very stingy, giving up 20 points or less in 12 of their 16 games. Their 49 total sacks are the fourth most in the NFL, led by defensive end Cameron Jordan (12.5) and outside linebacker Junior Galette (12). Cornerback Keenan Lewis leads the team with four interceptions. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has 125 tackles. They are ranked fourth in total defense and second against the pass.


Assessing the coaches

Eagles: Chip Kelly has turned the franchise around.

Saints: The one-year suspension hasn't hurt Sean Payton.



Eagles: Cold weather should work in their favor.

Saints: They are not the same team outside the Superdome.


Other views

Brian Allee-Walsh, Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate

"Keep in mind, the road in the playoffs has been unkind to the Saints, who are 0-5 all-time under coaches Sean Payton (0-3), Jim Haslett (0-1) and Jim Mora (0-1). In that 1990 loss at snowy Soldier Field in Chicago, Mora's team entered the playoffs as the sixth seed at 8-8."

Key matchup

Kendricks (95) and Eagles cornerback Cary Williams (26) vs. Graham (80). At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Graham is a matchup nightmare for defenses. Linebackers are too slow and defensive backs are too small to stick with him. Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis will need to mix up the coverages in to contain.

Contact David Weinberg:


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