Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints: Keys to the Game

Bob Cunningham@BCunningham215Senior Analyst ISeptember 19, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 13:  Sheldon Brown #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks up a pass intended for Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints during the NFC divisional playoff game at the Superdome on January 13, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Getting a win in Week One is vital, but getting a win in Week One can start a roll that can last deep into the season. Every season at least one team does it, and both of these teams are prime candidates to get on such a roll.

The Saints come into Philadelphia toting possibly the most explosive offense in the entire NFL. They'll face off against the Eagles, who boast one of the most suffocating defenses in the league over the past 10 years. Even without the late, great Jim Johnson, the Eagles defense proved they could dominate last week against the Panthers.

With that said, let's take a look at what the Philadelphia Eagles must do to take this Week Two game and walk out 2-0.


Health of Donovan McNabb


While I believe the Eagles could beat the Saints with or without McNabb, having him makes the task much easier.

There's not much debate regarding McNabb's status as an elite top-five quarterback, so it's obvious the Eagles are a much better team with him. On the other side of that, Kevin Kolb—who would start in his absence—is unproven, and in fact has done nothing but show that he is incapable of making a push for McNabb's job.

Just having McNabb on the field adds a new aspect to the offense the Saints defense must worry about, which in itself makes him a vital piece of the game. Broken rib or not, he gives this offense the best opportunity to score points.


Disrupt Drew Brees' Timing


If the Eagles defense is going to stop the Saints' high-powered offense, they're going to have to disrupt Brees' timing. How do they do that? They do it by blitzing, blitzing, and when all else fails, just blitzing some more.

It does, however, have to be precise and well-planned blitzing, or Brees will pick the defense apart. By this, I mean blitzing a corner from Brees' blind side, stunting along the line, and just simply blitzing effectively. If the blitzers are getting stone-walled, then Brees will have an easy day.

If Brees has an easy day, the Eagles will lose.


Control the Clock—Keep Brees & Co. On the Sideline

This is the simplest key to achieve, as it should be easy for Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy to run behind Leonard Weaver and this athletic offensive line. The Saints' defense is below average, and should struggle mightily against the run if the Eagles will commit to it.

This will be a key for every team facing off against the Saints this season, as the defense is obviously nothing to be worried about, but the offense can win games all by itself. Teams will certainly rather have their offense playing the same squad that gave up 27 points to the Detroit Lions rather than the quarterback those nearly beat Dan Marino's passing yards record last season.

Reid should have Eldra Buckley active this week, as a power back would certainly go a long way in wearing down this defense even further.

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