Saints, Eagles stumble into Monday Night showdown
With the NFL regular season just halfway over, one might think it's a little early to throw the word “desperation” around. But it will be a meeting of two teams in dire need of victory when the 2-5 New Orleans Saints play host to the 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles for this week's edition of Monday Night Football (8:30 pm ET, ESPN).
Playing in the shadow of the bounty scandal, which has deprived them of the services of head coach Sean Payton for the entire season, New Orleans has struggled mightily. The Saints started 0-4, losing by one score to the 'Skins, one score to the Panthers, by a field goal in overtime to the Chiefs and by one point at the Packers.
New Orleans then showed a little life, beating the Chargers and Bucs. But last week the Saints went to Denver and got bullied by the Broncos 34-14.
So at 2-5 the Saints are in must-win mode; few teams have rallied from 2-6 to make the playoffs.
On the other side of this matchup Philly started 3-1 this season, although those three victories came by a total of four points. The Eagles needed a late score to beat the Browns, another one to beat the Ravens, then after getting their butts kicked out in Arizona they got a late field goal to defeat the Giants.
But the worm has turned on Philly; the Eagles lost on a late field-goal at Pittsburgh, blew a late lead and lost at home to the Lions, and last week allowed Atlanta to score points on each of its first six possessions in an eventual 30-17 Philly defeat.
So at 3-4 the Eagles are two games behind the first-place Giants in the NFC East, although just a game off the pace in the Wild Card race.
Statistically speaking New Orleans is gaining 389 YPG on offense this season, but allowing a league-high 475 YPG on defense. The Saints are also getting outrushed by a ridiculous 170-73 YPG margin.
Philly, meanwhile, has outgained opponents this season 363-340, and outrushed foes 118-110.
On the injury front New Orleans sparkplug Darren Sproles is out for at least the next month or so after breaking a bone in his hand last week.
Most NFL betting outlets opened this game with the Saints favored by 3.5 points, with a total of 53. But most books have since dropped New Orleans to -3, and the total to 51.
These teams last met three seasons ago, with the Saints coming away with a 48-22 victory along the way to their Super Bowl title.