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Saints' 5 biggest weaknesses the Eagles can exploit

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 16, 2018 - 6:40 am

There is never a great time to have a trip to New Orleans on your schedule. For the Eagles, their game against the Saints has arrived at the worst possible time, as they are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. 

Heading into New Orleans with a 4-5 record, it is hard to imagine they won’t leave two games under .500 at 4-6. 

As dominant as the Saints have been this season, however, they are not a flawless team. 

Here are five weaknesses the Eagles could take advantage of this Sunday:

They don’t create turnovers: One of the Eagles’ issues on offense this season has been giving the ball away. They have turned the ball over 13 times in nine games, with most of those giveaways coming on forced fumbles. 

The good news is that the Saints are one of the worst defenses in the league at creating turnovers, with only 10 takeaways in nine games. That is 21st in the NFL. The Saints have just four fumble recoveries in nine games this season, which is 18th in the league entering Sunday’s games.  

They can’t stop anyone in the redzone: For as high-powered as their offense is, the Saints’ defense is not very intimidating — especially inside the 20-yard line. The Saints defense is 28th overall in the red zone, allowing teams to score on 72% of their trips inside the 20-yard line, which is 22% higher than last season.

That is a weakness the Eagles have to exploit and take advantage of this week, as their offense has struggled to score in the red zone. If the Eagles can’t score against the Saints, then it might finally be time to give up on the idea of their offense ever turning this around this season. 

Receivers: The Eagles are heading into this weekend extremely banged up in the secondary. They will definitely be without starting safety Rodney McLeod and starting cornerback Ronald Darby, and they will almost certainly be without starting cornerback Jalen Mills. That means backups like Rasul Douglas, Cre’von LeBlanc and Chandon Sullivan could be seeing playing time. 

The one bright side to the lack of quality depth in the Eagles’ secondary is that the Saints’ receivers are not very deep either. The Saints’ No. 2 receiver this season, Tre’Quan Smith, has just 12 catches for 214 yards. The team was so unhappy with what they were getting with their receivers not named Michael Thomas that they went out and signed Dez Bryant two weeks ago — and when he went down, they signed Brandon Marshall. 

The Saints have plenty of weapons on offense, but their receivers are not especially intimidating. 

They don’t spread the ball around: A result of the Saints’ lack of depth at receiver is that they don’t really spread the ball around. No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas has 87 targets this season and running back Alvin Kamara has 71. Third on the team is tight end Benjamin Watson, but the drop off is dramatic, as he has just 34 targets. Outside of those top three, only two other players have 20 targets. Only two players on the active roster that aren’t running backs have more than 20 targets. 

Stopping the Saints’ offense is not easy. Finding a way to stop either Thomas or Kamara, however, is the first step — because the Saints don’t have many options outside of those two.  

Defense: Teams have been able to move the ball up-and-down the field on the Saints’ defense this season. The Saints are 31st in passing yards allowed entering Sunday’s game, are are second-to-last in the NFL in yards allowed, giving up an average of 296 yards per game. The Saints are 23rd in the NFL this season, allowing 25.8 points-per-game. 

Part of that is due to the fact they are always winning, and opposing teams are always throwing the ball on them, but that doesn’t change the fact that their defense has not been impressive this season.  

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at [email protected]!

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