NFC Playoff Picture Football

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws a pass to running back Alvin Kamara earlier this season. during the first half of the team’s NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla. Brees, who turns 40 on Jan. 15, is a leading MVP candidate after breaking his own NFL record for completion percentage, connecting on 74.4 percent of his passes a year after connecting on 72 percent. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken, File)

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints have used drastically different methods to get motivated for Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson chose not to play the revenge card this week. The Eagles were embarrassed by the Saints earlier this season, suffering a 48-7 loss at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Yet he’s opted to look forward rather than dwell on the past.

“In this business, you have to have a short-term memory,” Pederson said. “You have to just push the eject button a lot and move on to the next one. ... I think just being in the divisional round is fuel enough. Where we are, one of four NFC teams remaining, that’s fuel enough.”

They are not opposed to using the same underdog mentality that carried them to a championship last season, however.

The Saints are listed as eight-point favorites for Sunday.

“Go ahead and keep doubting us,” Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said.

Saints coach Sean Payton opted for visual aides to get his team ready.

According to, the coach burst into a team meeting Monday with a big box underneath a gold curtain alongside three armed guards. Underneath the curtain was a glass case stuffed with $225,000, along with a Lombardi Trophy.

If the Saints win the Super Bowl, the players will have earned over $200,000 during the postseason.

“That’s definitely motivating,” Saints running back Mark Ingram told “Of course, everybody’s playing to be champions. But that trophy, that bread, all that’s on the line. It’s just another little way to get us going.”

Sproles, Brees reunion

The last time the Eagles and the Saints met in the playoffs, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and running back Darren Sproles were on the other team.

They helped the Saints earn a 26-24 upset in the wild card round of the playoffs Jan. 4, 2014, at Lincoln Financial Field against the Eagles and first-year coach Chip Kelly.

Sproles played a major role in the win for the Saints. His long kickoff return and a 15-yard penalty on Eagles cornerback Cary Williams against him set the stage for the Saints’ game-winning drive.

Sproles joined the Eagles the next season — so did Jenkins — but still has ties to the Saints. He trains with Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the offseason in San Diego, where they were also teammates on the Chargers.

“He’s my guy,” Brees told

“He’s a stud. I love working out with him in the offseason. He makes me better. He’s one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had the chance to play with, and he’s a great friend.”

Injury update

Defensive end Michael Bennett (foot) and quarterback Carson Wentz (back) did not practice Thursday.

Linebacker D.J. Alexander (hamstring), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ribs), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), tackle Jason Peters (quadricep), wide receiver Golden Tate (knee) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (ankle) were limited participants.

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Contact: 609-272-7201 Twitter @PressACWeinberg


Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 25th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

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