By Kristian Garic
Kristian: Philly CAN’T cut the mustard as New Orleans moves one step closer to the Super Bowl
I take you back to Oct. 15 2006. The Philadelphia Eagles came into New Orleans flying high at 4-1 with then-quarterback Donavan McNabb off to a red-hot start. The Eagles came to the Crescent City with Super Bowl aspirations in mind.
That day they ran into a 4-1 New Orleans Saints team, who at the time was considered “a feel-good story team” that was playing some inspired football under first-year head coach Sean Payton.
Since that game the Eagles have almost had a two different seasons.
After the Saints defeated the Eagles that day, Philly went on to lose four out of their next five games.
In the midst of that streak, the Eagles lost McNabb to a season ending knee injury.
In comes cast-off journeyman quarterback Jeff Garcia, and after an embarrassing loss to the Colts in prime time, the Eagles have ripped off 6 straight wins.
The Eagles are a completely different team than the one the Saints played in mid October.
As a result of McNabb’s injury the Eagles have become a more balanced football team with the emergence of a running game and an improved defense.
“The Ultimate Weapon,” Bryan Westbrook out of Villanova, is the centerpiece of the Eagles offense.
Two players on each team will be facing their former team.
Former Saints’ wide receiver Donte Stallworth and defensive end Darren Howard for the Eagles, and Saints defensive tackle Hollis Thomas played 10 years in Philly and Mark Simoneau played middle linebacker for the Ealges before patrolling the middle this season for the Saints.
When asked about his return to New Orleans after the Eagles thrilling victory over the Giants in the wild card game, Stallworth replied, “No Comment.”
You know that Stallworth has something to prove to Sean Payton – who traded Stallworth during training camp after the emergence of rookie “phenom” Marques Colston at wide receiver.
It will certainly be fun in the dome on Saturday kick-off is set for 7 p.m.
The Saints come into this contest well rested off their first-round bye.
“Hollywood” Joe Horn returns to the line-up along with defensive tackle Hollis Thomas coming off his four-game suspension just in time for the play-off push.
While the Eagles played lights out down the stretch, so have the Saints.
The Saints finished the regular season winning three out of five games.
One of those losses was against the Carolina Panthers in a who-cares season finale, one in which the Saints already had everything locked up and rested all of their starters for more than half the game.
Back to the first meeting with Philly, Drew Brees was 27 of 37 with 275 yard passing and 3 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions and a game winning drive that chewed up over 8 minutes of clock in the fourth quarter, capped off with a game winning field goal by John Karney as time expired.
If the Saints can stop Westbrook, than they win the game.
The offense will face an array of exotic blitzes employed the Eagles defense presenting them with opportunities for some big plays.
If the Saints can capitalize and make those big plays, the boys in black and gold will greatly improve their chances of moving onto the NFC championship game.
At the risk of sounding like a big “homer,” the Saints take this one 27-20.
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