Preview: NFC Divisional Round – Eagles vs. Saints

Let’s take a brief look at some statistical notes ahead of the NFC Divisional Round playoff game between the Eagles and Saints.

Saints Passing vs. Eagles Pass Defense

  • Drew Brees on passes of at least 20 yards downfield: 52 percent completion percentage (1st among QBs with at least 30 such throws), 66 percent on-target rate (1st), 18 percent touchdown rate (1st).
  • On throws of 20-plus yards downfield, Eagles’ opponents recorded a positive play (based on Expected Points Added) 41 percent of the time. That was tied for sixth-worst among NFL defenses.
  • One key for Brees and the Saints: avoiding sacks. Brees’ 3.5 percent sack rate in the regular season was tied with Tom Brady for third-lowest in the NFL, behind Andrew Luck (2.7%) and Ben Roethlisberger (3.4%).
  • Saints left tackle Terron Armstead was the only lineman to play at least 100 pass-blocking snaps and not have a blown block credited to him. However, he has missed time due to a pectoral injury and sat out in Week 17.
  • Philadelphia’s Michael Bennett (58) and Fletcher Cox (56) ranked tied for fourth and sixth, respectively, in quarterback pressures this season.

Saints Rushing vs. Eagles Run Defense

  • Both members of the Saints’ backfield can be found among the top ten running backs (min. 100 carries) in positive play percentage: Alvin Kamara at 47 percent and Mark Ingram at 46 percent.
  • The Eagles’ run defense tightened things up late in the season. In Weeks 15 through 17, Philadelphia allowed only 3.4 rush yards per attempt (3rd in NFL) and 1.7 yards after contact per attempt (1st).
    • Similarly, the Eagles surrendered only 65 rushing yards on 18 attempts (3.6 YPA) in Chicago last weekend.

Eagles Passing vs. Saints Pass Defense

  • Among quarterbacks who attempted 60+ passes in Weeks 15 through 17, Nick Foles ranked first in completion percentage (77 percent), on-target rate (86 percent), and yards per attempt (8.5).
  • Among receivers with at least 15 targets in that same time, Alshon Jeffery ranked first in yards per target (16.7) and Nelson Agholor ranked first in Receiver Rating (148.3).
  • The Saints allowed 8.2 yards per pass attempt in the regular season, which ranked fifth-worst in the NFL.
  • New Orleans can bring pressure, having ranked third in pressure percentage (35.4%) – led by Cameron Jordan’s 58 QB pressures.
  • That said, it doesn’t always rattle Foles. Among QBs with 50+ attempts under pressure, he ranked first in on-target rate (82.4 percent) and sixth in yards per attempt (7.5) when pressured this season.

Eagles Rushing vs. Saints Run Defense

  • The Saints’ run defense was excellent in the regular season: second in yards per attempt (3.6), second in yards after contact per attempt (1.9), fourth in broken tackle percentage (6.7%), and tied for fourth in positive play percentage (40%).
  • The Eagles have not had great success running the football, especially with the injuries to Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.
    • Over the last six weeks of the regular season (since they last played New Orleans), Philadelphia ranked last in the NFL with an average of 3.6 yards per attempt and tied for 25th with a 38 percent positive play rate on rushes. Of course, they still managed five wins in those six weeks.

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