Saints 26

(11-5, 3-5 away)

Eagles 24

(10-6, 4-4 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:10 PM ET, January 4, 2014

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 0 6 14 626
PHI 0 7 7 1024

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 250 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: M. Ingram II (NO) - 18 CAR, 97 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. Cooper (PHI) - 6 REC, 68 YDS, 1 TD

Saints-Eagles Preview


Nick Foles grew up idolizing Drew Brees and followed in his footsteps when he played quarterback at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.

Brees has already won a Super Bowl, but Foles will be playing in his first playoff game Saturday night when his Philadelphia Eagles meet a New Orleans Saints team that will be looking to win on the road in the postseason for the first time in franchise history.

"He's a guy I've watched and learned from," Foles said. "He's done a lot of great things throughout his career, on and off the field, and he's a great role model for fellow players, kids and adults."

Foles, who is 10 years younger than Brees, led the NFC East champion Eagles (10-6) to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. The second-year quarterback went 8-2 as the starter and appeared in 13 games, throwing 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions. His 0.6 interception percentage led the league among quarterbacks who played in more than half of their team's games.

Playing in first-year coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense, Foles was terrific down the stretch. He completed 74.5 percent of his passes over the final two weeks of the season and passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the finale Sunday night as Philadelphia won 24-22 in Dallas to clinch the division title.

The Eagles are also led by LeSean McCoy, who topped the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards while catching 52 passes for 539 yards for a league-best 2,146 scrimmage yards. DeSean Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine TDs.

Those threats made Philadelphia's offense difficult for opponents to figure out. The team led the NFC with 247 plays of 10 or more yards.

However, the Eagles will be in for a tough test against a Saints defense that was efficient in limiting big plays, allowing only five touchdowns of 20 or more yards to rank second in the conference.

"They're a talented group," Foles said. "They're going to mix it up with their coverages. They're going to try to put pressure on you at times and they're going to try to get to you.

"I think the key to that is that we have to recognize as a team when they're trying to put pressure on. As the quarterback, I have to recognize which coverage they want to play and what pressure (they're going to bring), and that's what this week of preparation is all about. We're trying to figure out what they're going to do, and I'm sure they'll have new things ready to go for us."

Brees had another terrific season in leading the Saints (11-5) to a wild-card berth, ranking only behind Denver's Peyton Manning with 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns. His favorite target has been tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and an NFL-best 16 touchdowns.

An issue for the team, though, was its troubles away from New Orleans. The Saints went 8-0 while averaging 34.0 points at home compared to 3-5 while scoring 17.8 per game on the road.

The Saints lost their final three road games, getting outscored 78-36, and are 0-5 all-time in playoff contests away from home.

"We're in the postseason. That's all that matters," said outside linebacker Junior Galette, who had 12 sacks. "It gives us a chance to go get a ring, so that's it."

Brees will likely need to carry the load because the Eagles defense is strong against the run. Philadelphia allowed just 3.77 yards per carry, the lowest average among playoff teams.

Not only did New Orleans rank 25th with 92.1 rushing yards per game and 26th with 3.8 per carry, but leading rusher Pierre Thomas (549 yards) has been ruled out with a back injury. The Eagles, though, allowed the most passing yards in the NFL.

"You can't really look at the rankings and think you're going to have your way with them," Saints wide receiver Lance Moore said. "Each game is different. They're playing at home. It'll be tough for us."

Brees is 5-3 in the playoffs with New Orleans, completing 66.2 percent of his passes while throwing 20 touchdowns to only three interceptions. His first postseason victory with the Saints was 27-24 over Philadelphia on Jan. 13, 2007.

In his only game in Philadelphia as a member of the Saints, Brees threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-22 win Sept. 20, 2009.

The Eagles won their last four at home this season and are 3-1 in their past four playoff games at Lincoln Financial Field, where temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s.

"We've all played in that kind of weather before, not on a consistent basis, but you just kind of make the preparations," Brees said. "You try to prepare for it as best as you can, but once you're there, it's football. It's about execution."

Passing Leaders

J. Winston59.01170143
T. Siemian57.41154113
J. Hurts61.33144169
G. Minshew68.343941

Rushing Leaders

A. Kamara2408983.74
T. Hill703745.35
J. Hurts1397845.610
M. Sanders1377545.50

Receiving Leaders

M. Callaway4669815.26
D. Harris3657015.83
D. Smith6491614.35
D. Goedert5683014.84

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsNO
Yards PassingNO
Yards RushingNO
Yards AllowedNO
Pass Yds AllowedNO
Rush Yds AllowedNO

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

New Orleans leads 5-2
Nov 5, 2012NO 28, PHI 13
Sep 20, 2009NO 48, @PHI 22
Dec 23, 2007NO 23, PHI 38
Jan 13, 2007NO 27, PHI 24
Oct 15, 2006NO 27, PHI 24
Nov 23, 2003NO 20, @PHI 33

Research Notes

From Elias: Drew Brees completed a pass to 11 different receivers in Sunday's win over the Buccaneers. According to Elias, that matches the season-high for completions to different receivers in a game. He did it one other time in Week 11 against the 49ers.
The Saints and Eagles face off in a NFC Wild Card matchup. It will feature starting QBs Drew Brees and Nick Foles. Both Brees and Foles played for and graduated from Westlake High School in Texas. According to Elias, the only previous playoff matchup which featured opposing starting quarterbacks from the same high school took place in 1974 when Terry Bradshaw (Steelers) and Joe Ferguson (Bills) faced off in a 1974 Divisional Playoff. Both went to Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. Bradshaw and the Steelers were victorious. Note - Both Mark Sanchez and Carson Palmer attended Santa Margarita Catholic in California. However, Sanchez transferred to Mission Viejo prior to his junior season. Sanchez (Jets) defeated Palmer (Bengals) in the 2009 AFC Wild Card Playoffs.
Mark Ingram ran for 97 yards Saturday against the Eagles, the second-most in his career (including playoffs). Ingram ran for 73 yards on designed rushes to the right, including his 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Drew Brees completed 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions against four or fewer pass rushers in the first half. Brees did not throw an incompletion against standard pressure in the second half. --The Eagles sent a three-man pass rush on 15 of Brees' 33 dropbacks Saturday, the most such dropbacks any quarterback has had in a single game this season. --Brees completed 1-of-4 passes for 11 yards and an interception on play action in the first half. He completed 4-of-5 such passes for 100 yards in the second half, including his 24-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore.
Drew Brees: team has last all 3 previous playoff games in which he has thrown an interception
The Saints defense held LeSean McCoy to 2.9 yards per rush between the tackles, his second-lowest average this season and the lowest allowed by the Saints. The Eagles lost all three games this season when McCoy averaged 3.0 yards per rush or fewer between the tackles. --The Eagles ran for 65 yards on 15 rushes when using the zone read (4.3 yards per rush), and were held to 15 yards on seven rushes without it (2.1 yards per rush). During the regular season, the Eagles averaged 5.7 yards per rush when using the zone compared with 4.3 yards per rush when not.
- The Saints held the Eagles to one play of 25 yards or more, tied for the fewest by the Eagles in a game this season. The Eagles led the NFL with 62 such plays during the regular season. - The Saints gained 14 first downs by rushing and 11 by passing Saturday. This was the first time the Saints gained more first downs by rushing than passing since Week 6 of 2010 against the Buccaneers.
The Saints won their first playoff game on the road in franchise history, overcoming cold temperatures behind an improved defense and running. They lost each of their previous 3 road playoff games with Drew Brees despite him averaging over 400 passing yards per game. They allowed over 35 points in each of those losses.
Drew Brees struggled to get the Saints' offense going in the first half Saturday, compiling a career playoff-low 98 pass yards and throwing two interceptions.

ESPN Stats & Information