The theme coming into week nine’s Monday Night Football showdown between the New Orleans Saints (2-5) and Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) could be the Underachievers Bowl as both teams have gotten their 2012 campaigns off to incredibly disappointing starts and now we are half way through the season. Both teams are entering this game coming off of big-time losses during the prior week as the Eagles were defeated by the Atlanta Falcons 30-17 while the Saints had the smack-down placed on them by the Denver Broncos 34-14. Following this game one team’s postseason aspirations will remain in tact by a shoelace and the other’s will come to an abrupt halt.
The Saints offense is currently ranked fifth in total offensive yards gained per game (388.6 yards), first in passing yards gained per game (316 yards), 32nd in rushing yards gained per game (72.6 yards) and sixth in points scored per game (27.1 points) while their defense is simply abysmal ranking 32nd in total offensive yards allowed per game (474.7 yards), 31st in rushing yards allowed per game (170.1 yards) and 30th in both passing yards allowed per game (304.6 yards) as well as points allowed per game (30.9 points).
Drew Brees is having yet another incredible season passing for 2,310 yards (2nd in NFL), 20 touchdowns (2nd in NFL), eight interceptions and completing 59.7% of his attempts. Brees will look for Marques Colston (40 receptions for 580 yards and 5 TD), Lance Moore (31 receptions for 433 yards and 2 TD) and Jimmy Graham (30 receptions for 315 yards and 4 TD) in order to make plays in the passing game makeup for the lack of a running attack.
The Saints will be without a huge part of their offense, Darren Sproles in this game. Sproles suffered a broken bone in his hand and had surgery to repair it on Friday. It would be an understatement to say that the Saints need some type of production out of their rushing game but honestly they need something; hopefully for their sake Pierre Thomas come bring something to the table this week. The entire defense also needs to bring something to this game as well, this season they have done absolutely nothing but pose as background effects in their opponents offensive players posters.
The Philadelphia offense is currently ranked 13th in total offensive yards gained per game (363.4 yards), 15th in passing yards gained per game (245.7 yards), 10th in rushing yards gained per game (117.1 yards) and tied for 28th in points scored per game (17.1 points) while their defense is ranked 12th in total offensive yards allowed per game (339.6 yards), 14th in passing yards allowed per game (229.1 yards), 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (110.4 yards) and 16th in points allowed per game (22.1 points).
The Eagles are once again relying on Michael Vick to lead their offense and not turn the football over; this season Vick has passed for 1,823 yards, nine touchdowns, eights interceptions and completed 59% of his attempts while rushing for 247 yards and touchdown on 48 carries. In this past couple of weeks Vick has done a much better job of holding onto the football however it hasn’t result in wins for Philly and now both he and head coach Andy Reid are sitting on the hot seat.
This week versus such a poor defense I expect that LeSean McCoy (127 carries for 504 yards and 2 TD plus 28 receptions for 134 yards), DeSean Jackson (34 receptions for 524 yards and a TD) and Jeremy Maclin (26 receptions for 328 yards and 3 TD) all have huge games due to their speed and playmaking abilities. The Eagles pass rush has been almost non-existent resulting in just nine total team sacks; if they can’t ratchet up more of a rush on Brees then it’s going to be a look and frustrating day for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomaugh and the rest of the Philly secondary.
This one is a tough one to figure who will win; if you look on paper it seems like the Eagles should be able to pull it out however on any given Sunday (or Monday in this case) Vick could cough the ball up like he has the flu. The Saints offense couldn’t stop a feather if it had arms and could run with a football though which makes predicting this one even more perplexing. I’ll take the Saints in a shootout 38-35.