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Previewing The Saints

An Eagles team that has seen nothing come easy this season heads to The Big Easy for a chance to turn the season back in a positive direction. After three straight losses, the 3-4 Eagles prepare for a Monday Night showdown against the equally disappointing 2-5 New Orleans Saints. Four of the Eagles' first five games were decided on the final possession, but after being thoroughly outplayed by the Atlanta Falcons last week, the Eagles are facing a crossroads of sorts.

The bye week change at defensive coordinator did not produce immediate results, as the Eagles allowed scores on the Falcons' first six possessions. That performance will have to improve on Monday night against a still explosive Saints offense that ranks fifth in the league in total yardage and features an array of weapons for Drew Brees.

On the other side, something will have to give for an Eagles offense that is tied for 29th in the league in points per game. Luckily, they'll be facing off with a Saints defense that ranks dead last in total defense. Will Michael Vick be the beneficiary of that matchup? Head coach Andy Reid has given no indication that he's ready to insert rookie Nick Foles into the starting lineup, but Vick said following the loss to the Falcons that he believes Reid is considering a change. Such a move would speak volumes, as there is still plenty of time for the Eagles to turn the season around, especially with what should be a more forgiving second half schedule.

But it's clear that this Eagles team faces a bit of a crisis point. After coming out flat in many ways against the Falcons, perhaps the prospect of playing in primetime in front of a national audience will spark some needed energy for the Eagles on Monday night. Whatever it takes, the Eagles must find a way to come back home with a victory if they want to remain playoff relevant.

It's must-win time.

Last Time They Met:
Sept. 9, 2009 in Philadelphia - New Orleans, 48-22

Making his first-career start for an injured Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb threw for 391 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard strike to DeSean Jackson. But Kolb also threw three interceptions in what turned into a blowout loss. The Eagles trailed by only four at halftime, but Ellis Hobbs fumbled the second half kickoff and the Saints scored two plays later to all but seal the win. Drew Brees threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns.

Tale Of The Tape (2012 Stats)
Eagles Saints
Record 3-4 2-5
Points Scored Per Game 17.1 (T-29th in NFL) 27.1 (6)
Total Yards Per Game 363.4 (14) 388.6 (5)
Rushing Yards Per Game 117.7 (10) 72.6 (32)
Passing Yards Per Game 245.7 (15) 316.0 (1)
Points Allowed Per Game 22.1 (16) 30.9 (30)
Total Yards Allowed Per Game 339.6 (12) 474.7 (32)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game 110.4 (17) 170.1 (31)
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game 229.1 (14) 304.6 (30)
Turnover Ratio -9 (29) 0 (T-15)

Players To Watch

QB Drew Brees

Any conversation about the Saints has to begin with its quarterback. Perhaps more than any other QB in the league, Drew Brees is absolutely vital to what the Saints do, not only as an offense, but as a team. Since joining the Saints in 2006, Brees has thrown for an eye-popping 30,714 yards and 221 touchdowns. Last season, Brees added to his Hall of Fame resume by throwing for 5,476 yards, an NFL record. In 2012 Brees has been as consistent as ever. Through seven games, Brees is second in the league in yardage and touchdowns, throwing for 2,310 yards and 20 touchdowns. Limiting Brees is the best way to shut down the Saints and leave the Superdome with a win.

RB LeSean McCoy

The Saints defense is not traditionally the team's strongest unit. But this year the defense has been a detriment to the team's success, ranking close to the bottom of the league in both pass and rush defense. The Saints are ranked 31st in rush defense, allowing five yards per attempt. This vulnerability should create an opportunity for running back LeSean McCoy. The Eagles' star running back has rushed for 504 yards on 127 carries this season, and an emphasis on the running game could help take pressure off an Eagles offense that has struggled to score points.

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