It’s assumed the Saints will beat the Eagles handedly Sunday afternoon. It’s a home game in the dome. Drew Brees lit up Philadelphia’s secondary with ease not even two months ago. New Orleans has been rolling all season. Alvin Kamara said the New Orleans would have “beaten the shit out of the Eagles” if they had met in last postseason. Twice before the Eagles and Saints met in the postseason with the same result. The Saints defeated the Eagles in 2013. The Saints ended the Eagles season on January 13, 2006, exactly 13 years from Sunday.
Yadda yadda yadda.
Nick Foles won his fourth playoff game last weekend. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but he stepped up when his team needed him the most, finding Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert before the decisive touchdown to Golden Tate on the winning drive. In the most inexplicable fashion, an Eagles season that featured far too many pedestrian moments continues. It’s easy to point to the improved offensive line, the willingness of Foles to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible, the play of Jeffery and the commitment on defense. Nigel Bradham looked better than ever in the win over Chicago, zeroing in on Mitchell Trubisky. The team has elevated its play in a way that didn’t seem possible. Especially after that beatdown in New Orleans Nov. 18.
For some reason Foles makes things happen, but it’s no fluke. He’s 24-7, including the postseason, with the Eagles since his rookie season. His career rivals any quarterback’s career in terms of sheer weirdness, certainly. But he’s quite good. No active quarterback has a better passer rating in the postseason than Foles. I’ve written about Foles plenty over the past year. How he fought through adversity, how he wrote a book and how he put together the best stretch in franchise history. Honestly, I didn’t expect to write about Foles ever again. He brought the first ever Super Bowl to Philadelphia, which means he’s eternally a hero. But the legend wasn’t supposed to continue, at least not in Philadelphia.
Watching the Eagles with Foles in the fold feels different. It wasn’t always like that, of course. Foles couldn’t do anything against the Raiders on Christmas 2017. He struggled against the Falcons in Week 1 of this season. He clearly missed his favorite target in Jeffery, who has been a revelation in recent weeks. Jeffery has the size and catch radius that threatens to intimidate any defensive back, and for some innate reason Foles and Jeffery have perfect harmony. But there’s also the human element of Foles during the first two weeks of this regular season. He knew Wentz would take over, and he also had this unbelievable journey during the off-season. There’s a reason why he didn’t play that effective. As he stood in the wayside, the Eagles season took shape in some odd, unsatisfying formation. Blame inconsistent offensive play, injuries, poor defensive backs, blown leads, Super Bowl hangover, whatever. For a myriad of reasons, the Eagles weren’t very good at football for much of this season. There’s something cool and confident about Foles, which the rest of the team embodies when he takes over. It’s been on display since mid-December in Los Angeles.
The Saints are going put up plenty of points against the Eagles, even though Philadelphia has been vastly better on defense since that forgetful game in New Orleans. It’s why Foles needs to add to the legend if the Eagles have any shot. Regardless of what happens, and a Saints win remains the most likely option, it’s surreal that Foles has this team in the divisional round once again. We’ve seen this ride before. Last week’s win against the Bears reminded many of the 15-10 win over the Falcons last January. Nobody expected the Eagles to beat the Vikings, especially after Minnesota marched down the field with ease to begin that game.
It’s happened before. So why not again.