The Eagles, despite a respectable 3-4 record, have perhaps the most pressure of any team heading into Week 9. Embattled and oftentimes failing to meet the basic requirements of their positions, head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick are undoubtedly playing for their jobs the remainder of the year.
New Orleans, meanwhile, still cannot recover from its head coach, Sean Payton, losing his job for a season as part of the Bountygate scandal. At 2-5 and with their playoff life hanging by the thinnest thread imaginable, the Saints have reached the point where every game is a must-win.
With both teams desperately needing to come out on top, here's a look at everything you need to know about Monday night's clash of the formerly elite.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA
When: Monday, Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m.
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Saints (-3.5), according to Bovada.
Over/Under: 52, according to Bovada.
What's at Stake
In Philadelphia, it's not even a slight exaggeration to say that jobs are on the line with almost every snap on Monday.
First and foremost, it starts with Vick, who undoubtedly feels the heat more than anyone. All it takes is one huge mistake and the Nick Foles era might start before anyone ever expected coming into the year.
Coaching-wise, Reid's hot seat likely won't be set ablaze until the offseason at this point.
For the Saints, the lost season just seems to be dragging on. Bountygate still hasn't been laid to rest nine weeks into the 2012 campaign and the havoc those punishments have wreaked is undeniable.
They still have a remote chance of making the playoffs, but it's like finding-the-Lost-island level of remote.
Eagles Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
WR Mardy Gilyard, Hamstring, Left Week 8
Saints Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
DB Roman Harper, Concussion, Left Week 8
TE Daniel Graham, Knee, Missed Week 8
LB David Hawthorne, Hamstring, Missed Week 8
WR Joe Morgan, Chest, Missed Week 8
Fantasy Player to Watch: QB Michael Vick
For fantasy football owners, Vick's Week 9 matchup against the Saints is what's called a "last chance" game.
That means that most owners, despite surely spewing a few four-letter words in Vick's direction due to his struggles, will look at the opposing defense and assume that something has to give on Monday.
Considering the Saints come into this week's contest 30th in the NFL against the pass and 31st against the run, that's not a bad assumption.
Facing the league's worst defense, if Vick does not find a way to finish in the top five among fantasy quarterbacks, it may not just be time to bench him. A bad performance against the Saints may actually make Vick droppable, even if he holds the starting job.
What They're Saying
With seemingly everyone in Philadelphia aware that jobs are on the line this season, it's hard to blame the players for being on edge. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane, tight end Brent Celek made it clear that the entire locker room can feel the heat.
"I think we're all playing for all of our jobs with the way that we've been playing," Celek said. "You start thinking about that, and then you play not to make a mistake, and it's bad."
On the other side of the field, the ability to point fingers seems limitless for the Saints. The defense has continually failed and last week saw the offense come up short against the Broncos.
Nonetheless, interim head coach Joe Vitt took the time to blame himself for the loss, according to The Times Picayune's Mike Triplett:
This sport, this industry that we're in, is not like riding a bike. Listen, I had to learn how to put my headset on last night, how to turn it on and communicate with both sides of the ball and get my feet grounded. So I've got to get better as a coach to give our football team a better chance to win.
Eagles' Key Player: RB LeSean McCoy
Get used to this stat from NFL talking heads: The Eagles are 3-0 in games where McCoy carries the ball 20 times and 0-4 in games where he's below that mark.
In most cases, that's a statistic skewed by the internal factors in the game. Obviously, teams that are losing by a ton of points run the ball less than teams that are winning, speaking strictly in a vacuum.
However, that doesn't apply here. Two of Philadelphia's four losses this season have been by three or fewer points—not games you'd exactly call blowouts.
There seems to be no true rhyme or reason to the way the Eagles call plays. For Reid to save his job, that needs to change swiftly, as McCoy is likely the only player with enough skill to single-handedly win games.
With a matchup against the second-worst run defense in the league on tap, if Shady doesn't reach the 20-carry plateau, the coaching staff shouldn't even be allowed to take the team plane home.
Saints' Key Player: QB Drew Brees
Expecting the defense or running game to suddenly become competent is a fool's errand, so the Saints will have to ride Brees in all of their victories for the duration of 2012.
In previous seasons, betting on the six-time Pro Bowler has been as close to a sure thing as you can get. Unfortunately, Brees has struggled with inconsistency throughout the season.
The counting numbers and fantasy stats look fine, but Brees' 59.7 completion percentage is his lowest since 2003—otherwise known as the second season of the long-forgotten "Brees is a bust" era in San Diego.
Look for that number to rise with the world watching Monday night. For all the rightful credit he gets, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has been burned in coverage more times than you can count this season and his counterpart, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, hasn't been much better.
If there's any quarterback in the league that will find and take advantage of those holes, it's Brees.
At this juncture, it's impossible to feel comfortable picking either team.
Nonetheless, the controversy surrounding the Eagles is a far more debilitating factor to me than the Saints defense—especially with Philadelphia on the road.
Expect a high-scoring affair, but one that ultimately ends up with New Orleans on top.
Score Prediction: Saints 27, Eagles 24
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