While it has the makings of being the most entertaining game on this week’s slate, it also features two of the league's more disappointing teams so far this season.
The collection of talent is there in Philadelphia, and the coaching staff is battle-tested. But since putting together the “Dream Team” in the offseason prior to 2011, the Eagles have failed to live up to the hype.
The defense has played well at times (12th in yardage and 16th in points allowed) and the offense is as potent as any in the league with Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin leading the way.
However, inconsistent play out of Vick—partially due to lack of protection upfront—and a minus-9 turnover ratio have kept this team from winning on a regular basis.
New Orleans, on the other hand, entered the 2012 season on not-so-stable ground, following the mess left behind by Bountygate. However, that is no excuse for this team to have only produced two wins through the season’s midway point.
The Saints' offense is as good as ever, ranking fifth in the league at 388.6 yards and sixth in scoring at 27.1 points per game.
After a slow start, Drew Brees is completing 64 percent of his passes, for 1,406 yards and 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions in his last four games. Unfortunately for the Saints, those numbers have only earned two victories.
Most of the blame for their disappointing 2012 season can be planted on the Saints' defense, which ranks last in the league, yielding close to 475 yards per game—almost 57 more yards than the team with the second worst total, the Buffalo Bills.
Both of these teams have a tough road ahead if they plan on saving what’s left of this season. Monday night’s game could go a long way toward doing that.
Here is one bold prediction for each team, along with fantasy football "beast or bust" candidates in Monday’s matchup:
Eagles Tally More than 500 Total Yards in a Loss
Though totals are down this season—only averaging 363.4 yards and 17.1 points per game—Vick and Co. can still wreak havoc on opposing defenses. And the Saints’ porous unit will be no match on Monday night.
Yielding close to 475 yards and 31 points per game, New Orleans has had a tough time stopping any team this season, let alone a group as explosive as Philly.
However, the Eagles offense is prone to mistakes, and has failed to consistently capitalize on its scoring chances. If New Orleans can tighten up in the red zone, look for the Saints to mitigate a poor performance with their defense and still be able to win this game at home.
Saints Rushing Attack Fails to Produce 50 Yards
With Darren Sproles out and New Orleans needing to match the output of a speedy Eagles offense, the Saints might be forced to abandon their running game early.
Though Philadelphia is giving up 110.4 rushing yards per game, the Saints haven’t produced much on the ground this season (72.6 yards per game, good for worst in the league), instead relying on the arm of Brees to shoulder most of the load.
Part of their poor rushing total could be due to being involved in shootouts or playing from behind. But that’s exactly what Monday night’s game should be, so expect more of the same out of New Orleans.
Fantasy Beast: LeSean McCoy
Though the Saints' pass defense is certainly nothing to write home about, it’s their inability to stop the run that has caused much of the disappointment this season.
New Orleans ranks last in the league, allowing 170.1 rushing yards per game on 5.03 yards per carry. The Saints have also yielded nine rushing touchdowns through seven games.
Though McCoy has yet to produce the breakout game he is capable of this season, Monday night could provide that opportunity. Look for the versatile running back to rack up some serious stats against the Saints.
Fantasy Bust: Marques Colston
The Saints' offense forces the opposition to play a game of pick-your-poison on a weekly basis. With Sproles out, however, the Eagles will have one less weapon to worry about.
The running back’s production will more than likely be replaced by slot receiver Lance Moore through the air, so expect him to get plenty of looks from Brees on Monday night.
With tight end Jimmy Graham capable of producing against any defense, the Eagles would do well to mitigate wide receiver Marques Colston’s touches. With Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie manning the edges, that shouldn’t be a problem.
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