Saints vs Eagles injuries may set the tone
In the Week 11 Saints vs Eagles matchup, the personnel off the playing field may determine the outcome as much as the squad dressed out for the game
Both of these teams are coming into this game as something of a surprise. The Saints had pre-season expectations running high and have struggled to live up to their potential. The Eagles on the other hand, skulked into the season with not even the most die-hard faithful looking for much to happen. And yet they have in a way punched above their weight.
Such high hopes at the start of the season. Facing life without Drew Brees, but with a former Heisman winner in Jameis Winston, a red-hot Alvin Kamara and just all-around Superman Taysom Hill, the Saints looked to be a force in the NFC South. Possibly even the force. But one slip after another, and now with the loss of Winston for the season, New Orleans is in real danger of letting this season slip from their grasp. Their running game has been upped with the return of the prodigal son in Mark Ingram, but it may not get out of the blocks since the All-pro offensive line is down two of its stars. Both tackles, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are out with knee injuries. Kamara is also out with a knee problem and Taysom Hill is questonable.
Not much was expected out of the Eagles coming into the season. It just felt like too many dodgy decisions had been made. An organization can absorb one or two in any given season, but this was just punches in bunches. A Super Bowl winning coach and quarterback replaced by two rookies. A wide receiver corps built on new draft picks. By and large, they have lived up, or down, to the expectations, being less than sparkling through the first ten weeks. Their offensive line, perhaps the only veterans left on the team, have struggled through injury and are finally back in full form. They can do their case a lot of good if Miles Sanders can make some headway behind them.
Somehow, both of these teams find themselves hanging on to second place in their respective divisions. The NFC is stacked and neither the Buccaneers nor the Cowboys can pull definitively away from the pack. The expectation is that the Eagles will falter in the last furlong, but the talented Saints will pull through into the Wild Card spot and show real grit into the post season. Both of these teams are at a crossroads, and if the Saints in particular want to move into the post season, they absolutely must make their move now. The opportunity for Sean Payton and the Saints is the one that they have in their hands right now. Don’t look for another, this is it.