Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2018 at 12:24 am.


–WR Michael Thomas has 274 catches through the first 40 games of his career, the most catches in NFL history through that many games.

–T Terron Armstead is expected to miss a few weeks because of a shoulder injury that he suffered at Cincinnati last Sunday.

–DE Marcus Davenport (toe), who missed the last two games and is expected to miss at least one more, did not practice Wednesday.

–DT Tyeler Davison (hand) was limited in practice Wednesday.

–OL Andrus Peat (hip) was limited Wednesday.

–T Ryan Ramczyk (knee) was limited Wednesday.

–WR Austin Carr (knee) was limited Wednesday.

–C Max Unger (rest) was limited Wednesday.

–G Larry Warford (rest) was limited Wednesday.

–OL Hermon Bushrod (rest) was limited Wednesday.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: T Jermon Bushrod is expected to start in place of injured LT Terron Armstead. Bushrod was away from the team for a couple of weeks after his infant daughter died last month, but he was ready when Armstead was sidelined in the second quarter last week. Bushrod played 51 snaps and performed well, but he’ll likely be counted on to play even more snaps this week as he protects Drew Brees’ blind side.

GAME PLAN: Start fast. The Saints are used to playing from ahead and one of the Eagles’ biggest problems is the frequency with which they have had to play from behind. The Saints have scored touchdowns on their first possession six times in nine games. The Eagles have failed to score at all in the first quarter in seven of nine games. If the Saints can score early and build a lead, there’s a good chance they’ll keep rolling and the Eagles will keep struggling. Drew Brees will try to utilize Mark Ingram II, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to keep the Eagles off balance and put points on the board right away.

The Saints’ ability to play with a lead has been partly due to them ranking No. 1 in the NFL in run defense, thus making it difficult for opponents to get off to a fast start offensively, though the last three opponents have scored a touchdown on their first possession. But they mostly have been unable to sustain that success – at least not enough to keep pace with New Orleans. The Saints rank 31st in pass defense, but that is mitigated somewhat by their success defending the run as well as a series of interceptions and sacks at key moments in recent games. The Eagles are just 22nd in rushing, making it likely New Orleans will be able to force Carson Wentz into unfavorable passing situations just as it has done with most opposing quarterbacks.

–Saints WRs vs. Eagles CBs. The Eagles are beat up in the secondary and will be playing without either of their starting cornerbacks. The potential return of nickel back Sidney Jones (hamstring) could help, but Philadelphia will be hard-pressed to slow down Michael Thomas (78 catches, 950 receiving yards, seven touchdown catches). A series of injuries have contributed to inconsistency among the rest of the receiving corps, but Drew Brees always manages to find someone other than Thomas to connect with. He should be able to do the same against the short-handed Eagles secondary.

–Saints CBs vs. Eagles WRs. Chances are Carson Wentz and the Eagles passing game are going to have to have a big day to keep pace with Brees and the Saints offense. With Alshon Jeffery and recently acquired Golden Tate, Wentz has the weapons to keep pace. CB Marshon Lattimore has had a solid season after being the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, but he has yet to make an interception this season. The other cornerback spot is still a work in progress with recently acquired Eli Apple, who had an interception last week, and nickel back P.J. Williams having had ups and downs.