Kickoff Time: Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver
Line: Saints -8
Overworked Story Line: Nick Foles
Key(s) to the Game: Eagles cornerbacks vs. Sean Payton and Drew Brees
Eagles fans have been whining all season about their cornerbacks, says the Ringer.com. They have a point. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are both on injured reserve and Sidney Jones has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury. Philly’s season has depended on Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Tre Sullivan far more than anyone could have expected.
Testing that group will likely be the first, second, third, and fourth priority for New Orleans, who roasted the Birds in their first game without Darby in Week 11 by specifically targeting Sidney Jones, according to Pro Football Talk’s Peter King, who was embedded with the New Orleans coaching staff for their Week 11 matchup against the Eagles. At one point during the team’s Saturday night walkthrough, King asked Payton about a specific play design.
“Part of it, really, is thinking of something that they [the Eagles] haven’t seen,” Payton said. “That’s the job of a game-planner. You want eight heads to turn to [Eagles safety] Malcolm Jenkins and be like, ‘What do we do?’”
The Saints won that game 48-7. The details will be different without Carson Wentz (and likely Jones), as the Eagles’ entire season has been flipped upside down since their first matchup, but the question remains the same: Can the Eagles’ depleted secondary avoid getting shredded by Sean Payton and Drew Brees?
Maddox will be critical to the game. He finished the year with the fewest passing yards allowed per coverage snap of any cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus, and he showed the highs against Chicago last week along with some lows. He demonstrated excellent anticipation by jumping an outside route and dropping a potential interception from Mitchell Trubisky late in the first half: