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Season Preview: A Saintly Matchup


The 2015 schedule for the Philadelphia Eagles has been announced. The schedule features six nationally televised games and a second consecutive Thanksgiving Day game ...

It was tough sledding in the Big Easy in 2014. They certainly missed all-purpose back/return specialist Darren Sproles and safety Malcolm Jenkins as the last line of defense. What's in store for the New Orleans Saints this year when they visit Lincoln Financial Field in Week 5?

The Saints still have one of the most prolific offenses in the league led by All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees. However, the Saints were undone, much like the Eagles, by turnovers last season. The Saints led the league in total yards, but were one of just five teams that gave the ball away 30 times or more.

Brees has passed for at least 4,300 yards in each of his nine seasons in New Orleans. He led the league with 4,952 last year after three straight 5,000-yard campaigns. However, Brees will have to survive without his top two pass catchers from last season - tight end Jimmy Graham, who was traded to Seattle, and wide receiver Kenny Stills, who was shipped to Miami. Expect 2014 first-round pick at wide receiver Brandin Cooks to become the go-to weapon for Brees.

To balance out the offense, the Saints re-signed former first-round pick Mark Ingram and signed the dynamic C.J. Spiller at running back. The Saints have not been known as a volume running team, but ranked tied for sixth in the league in yards per carry with 4.5 last season.

With Brees getting older, the Saints can take some pressure off with the run game, but the Eagles have been stout against the run over the past two years ranking fifth in yards per carry allowed.

The Saints' defense had its fair share of struggles as well. In fact, the Saints ranked next-to-last in yards allowed last season and created the fifth-fewest turnovers.

The team's big free agent prize, safety Jairus Byrd, played just four games before missing the rest of the year due to a torn meniscus in his knee. Kenny Vaccaro was one of the best rookie defensive players in 2013, but he was demoted last season. Linebacker Curtis Lofton struggled at middle linebacker and is no longer with the team.

As much as the Saints struggled last season to finish 7-9, they missed the division title by a half-game. What's more perplexing is that this team was once virtually unbeatable at home, but lost its last five at the Superdome.

Good thing this one is in Philly, as the Eagles will try to exact revenge for the Wild Card loss that ended their 2013 campaign. Jenkins and Sproles will also look to show their former team what they're missing. It's an interesting spot for the Eagles, who get the Saints in between two NFC East matchups. !

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