New Orleans Saints: Previewing Team’s Week 14 Matchup vs Eagles
Saints Offense vs Eagles Defense
Over the past three games, in which they’ve started Taysom Hill, the Saints rank 14th in yards/play.
However, that doesn’t quite tell the story. The circumstances surrounding their game against the Broncos allowed them to establish a conservative approach, which lowers their overall offensive numbers.
Hill played fine against the Falcons next week, but he certainly did not impress. His 6.27 yards/attempt was rather modest, and ball security is a clear issue for him; he fumbled the ball on three different occasions and had multiple dropped interceptions.
He is walking a very fine line right now, and New Orleans needs to hope his luck doesn’t run out before Drew Brees is able to return as their starting quarterback.
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For the season, the Eagles rank 6th in yards/play allowed. However, they are allowing the fourth-most passing yards/attempt over the past three games, and their numbers may be skewed by an overall easy schedule of opposing pass offenses by virtue of playing in the NFC East.
I’d expect Sean Payton to run a very similar game script with Hill under center. That means the passing game will likely be centered around the team’s wide receivers, mainly Michael Thomas, who has dominated Hill’s target share, while he will likely call a lot of early-down pass attempts.
Succeeding on early downs and avoiding obvious passing situations is a necessity for Payton. Hill’s time to throw numbers are alarmingly long, which puts a lot of pressure on the offensive line to keep him protected.
That may work against some defenses, but not the Eagles. They have invested a lot of resources into their defensive line, so it is no surprise that they are the second-best pass rush in terms of sacks per game, and that’s without benefitting from an elite coverage unit.
Star tackle Terron Armstead was activated from the COVID-19 list, but it’ll be how the interior offensive line fares against Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Malik Jackson that may make a major difference in this game.
With Hill, the Saints have had much more success building a diverse, explosive rushing attack. Unfortunately, since Philadelphia’s defensive line is their strength, they generally are sound in run defense.
However, on outside-zone concepts, their linebackers can be exploited, as evidenced in their matchup against the Packers last week. Thus, this ought to be a favorable matchup for Alvin Kamara, rather than Latavius Murray.
The Eagles aren’t a great matchup for the Saints with Hill under center. Limiting opportunities for their pass rush will be the key. Payton’s offenses have always relied on efficiency, so the negative yardage created by sacks could be detrimental for them.