2014 NFL Playoffs: Mark Ingram Under-the-Radar X-Factor for New Orleans Saints vs. Eagles
The 2014 NFL Playoffs begin on Saturday, with the second game of the night likely to turn into an offensive shootout between the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Saints’ struggles outdoors will be in the forefront of everyone’s minds with the game taking place in Philadelphia, the Saints will also be taking the field without an important offensive weapon.
Quietly this season, Pierre Thomas has been stellar out of the New Orleans backfield. Though he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry on his team-leading 147 carries and has just two rushing touchdowns on the year, Thomas has been valuable. Not only has Thomas nearly equaled the pass-catching numbers of Darren Sproles, but he’s also seemingly been able to get the important yards and first downs for the Saints whenever he’s been asked to this season. However, Thomas has been ruled out for Saturday’s playoff game due to a chest injury.
With Thomas out, the onus of the rushing attack will fall on Mark Ingram. Sproles will play his part as well and will see more snaps than normal, but you have to expect Ingram will get the bulk of the carries. Though he’s only been used sparingly this season, the Saints will need Ingram to consider his recent success with a larger workload.
Over his past three games, Ingram has just 17 total carries. However, he’s taken those carries for a total of 108 rushing yards, including 13 carries for 83 yards against the stingy run defense of the Carolina Panthers. Ingram, though he’s been the second option, has been running quite well as of late.
Though this Saints team is only going to go as far as Drew Brees takes them offensively, at least establishing the threat of the run is going to be important for New Orleans against the Eagles. The Saints will be tested without Thomas, but Ingram can make their collective life easier if he’s able to move the ball effectively with the carries he gets.