Posted On 09-28-2006
By Scott Balot - SaintsReport Staff Writer
This week the Saints face the biggest challenge of the season so far as the Philadelphia Eagles fly into the Superdome on Sunday. I don’t think too many pundits figured that this week’s game between the Saints and Eagles would have much importance before the season started. However, both teams are leading their respective divisions, and this game could have playoff implications down the road. Let’s take a look at the Saints/Eagles and the rest of WEEK SIX in the NFL.
THE SEAL HAS BEEN BROKEN
The moment that all Saints’ fans have been craving finally happened last week and not at a moment too soon. Reggie Bush made it count while scoring his first NFL touchdown, providing the winning points against the Buccaneers. It was the first time since the preseason game against Tennessee that Saints’ fans were able to watch Bush run in wide open space and really turn on the jets. Bush had appeared to be pressing too much in failing to score during the first four weeks. Now that he’s got the first one under his belt, the second and third should come easier.
DEUCE IS BACK
One of the many pleasant surprises this season has been the recovery of running back Deuce McAllister. McAllister ran with authority against the Buccaneers, gaining over 100 yards on the ground. McAllister’s 57-yard run was a thing of beauty as he ran by, around, and through the Buccaneers’ secondary. Coming off a torn ACL, McAllister has been running with the same authority as he did in 2002-03, when he ran for 1,388 and 1,641 yards respectively. McAllister has also rushed for four touchdowns this season. It’s good to see McAllister returning back to Pro Bowl form.
CLASS OF 2006
With Roman Harper going down with a knee injury for the rest of the season, it really brings to light the contributions of Harper and the rest of this year’s draft class. Harper, Bush, Marques Colston, and Jahri Evans have all been starters since week one, and have played well. Rob Ninkovich was performing well as a reserve before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Overall, this year’s draft has been one of the most successful in franchise history.
WEEK SIX-Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles’ Quarterback Donovan McNabb seems to have put last season’s nightmares behind him and has been playing at an MVP level. Running Back Brian Westbrook has been hampered with injuries, but should play on Sunday. Former Saint Donte Stallworth has also been hampered with his infamous hamstring injuries and is questionable for Sunday. The good news for the Saints is there is no more T.O. The bad news for the Saints is that there is no more T.O., either. McNabb has gotten more out of Greg Lewis, Stallworth, Reggie Brown, and rookie Hank Baskett with fewer distractions. Tight End L.J. Smith is one of the top receiving tight ends in the NFC.
Defensively, former Saint Darren Howard returns to the Superdome for the first time as a member of a different team. Howard was Jim Haslett and Randy Mueller’s first draft pick in 2000. Howard has been one of the main cogs in an Eagle defense that is one of the best in the NFL. Howard is joined by linebackers Jeremiah Trotter and Dhani Jones, and Cornerback Lito Sheppard and hard-hitting Safety Brian Dawkins.
DE Darren Howard vs. LT Jammal Brown-this is going to be one great battle to watch, as both players are playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Saints’ Secondary vs. Eagles Wide Receivers-the Eagles like to throw the ball downfield, which has been one of the Saints weakness on defense this season. Omar Stoutmire will be making his first start in place of injured Roman Harper.
LB Scott Fujita vs. TE L.J. Smith-the Saints did a decent job of keeping Falcons’ TE Alge Crumpler in check for most of the game a few weeks ago. Smith will present the same problems as Crumpler.
SCOTT’S FEARLESS PREDICTIONS
Line: Eagles favored by 3
The Saints are reaching a difficult stretch of games in their schedule starting this week against the Eagles. These two teams could be battling for a playoff spot towards the end of the season, so there is plenty riding on this game. I think this game will be extremely close and low scoring. Drew Brees throws for 210 yards and two interceptions. Bush and McAllister rush for 110 yards combined. Bush gets his second touchdown of the season on a 15-yard run. The Saints play close at home but the more experienced Eagles get the win. Scott says take the Saints and the three points…Eagles 21, Saints 20.
Last Week: 5-7-2 (.416)
Season: 39-31-4 (.557)
Lock O’ The Week: 3-1 (.750)
LOCK O’ THE WEEK-Baltimore -3 over Carolina-Ravens’ defense finds the answer to shut down the Panthers at home
And now for the rest of WEEK SIX in the NFL:
Buf -1 over Det-Millen could be out of a job soon
Cin -5 ½ over TB-Bengals refreshed after bye week
Hou + 13 over Dal-this game will be decided by a field goal
Atl -3 over NYG-Falcons will get the running game going early
Sea -3 over Stl-Seahawks are also coming off bye week
Ten +10 over Wash-Redskins are consistently inconsistent
KC +7 over Pit-Steelers are hung over from Super Bowl
NYJ -3 over Mia-Saban has dug himself a hole in Mia
SD –10 over SF-Chargers are a top 5 team in NFL
Den -15 over Oak-Brady Quinn will be pulling for the Raiders this week
Ari +10 ½ over Chi-Bears are in for a letdown