Bring On the Eagles
Okay. Enough talk about politics, insurance, and Nick Saban. Time to talk about something less controversial. Something we can all get behind.
Saints vs. Eagles. PRIMETIME. Saturday night. The DOME will be as loud as it's ever been.
However, I am disappointed that the Saints will be playing the Eagles. I really wanted the Seahawks. The Bears are as good as getting another bye playing Seattle. And another thing. The Eagles are much, much, much better than the Seahawks. With the Eagles coming to town, there are a lot of things that aren't in the Saints' favor:
1. The Eagles are the hottest team in the NFC. They haven't lost in something like 6 weeks.
2. It's a rematch. It's hard to beat a team twice in the same season.
3. The Eagles have been to 4 of the last 5 NFC Championship Games.
4. The team and coaching staff have about a million times more playoff experience than the Saints.
3. The always-dangerous "Ex-Saint factor." Darren Howard and Donte' Stallworth (who didn't play in the first game) will be on the field. I pray that Fred Thomas isn't covering Stallworth.
4. Home field (dis)advantage. The Saints are 4-4 at home. The Saints are 1-3 at home in the playoffs.
But here's why I'm hoping these and other things won't matter this weekend:
1. Sean Payton is 2-0 this season in rematches with teams he beat the first time around (Falcons and Buccaneers).
2. Mark Simoneau(x) and Hollis Thomas. Let's hope there's an "Ex-Eagle factor" in their history too.
3. Experience is overrated. For all that experience, the Eagles have only been to one Super Bowl and lost that game.
4. The NFC Championship Game the Eagles missed in that streak was last year's game. Let's hope that it started a new trend.
5. The home team is 4-0 in the playoffs so far.
6. The Saints are getting healthy again. Hollis Thomas will be back. Joe Horn may be back (but I'm skeptical). Fred Thomas will hopefully get better too. Meanwhile, the Eagles had one significant injury yesterday (Lito Sheppard). The latest reports say that there's a chance that he will be out for Saturday.
And, most importantly:
7. THE SAINTS ARE BETTER THAN THE EAGLES.
8. THESE AREN'T THE SAME OLD SAINTS (I hope).
9. KARMA AND DESTINY (okay, I'm stretching now).
So what do I think is going to happen? I'm a Saints fan, so I'm not going to make any bold predictions. But I'll just say this. If the Saints team that showed up for the Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys and Giants games shows up, the Saints will win. Period. Perhaps easily. If the Saints team that showed up against the Redskins shows up, the Saints could still win. But it just got a lot harder. To me, it's just like I've been saying all year: it's all about turnovers. If the Saints can force a couple of turnovers and the offense doesn't do anything stupid, the Saints win. The opposite has been the formula for almost every Saints loss.
Here are my predictions for the other three games:
Bears defeat Seahawks
Patriots defeat Chargers (another Schottenheimer choke, and I'll pick against them next week too if they win)
Colts defeat Ravens
As usual, all comments welcome.
MONDAY LUNCHTIME UPDATE: ESPNews is reporting that Lito Sheppard is OUT for Saturday.