Let's get this out of the way right away: the Saints are a better team than the Eagles. The two teams are closely ranked offensively, but the Saints have a top 5 defense. And while the Eagles defense has improved as the season has progressed, they're no one's pick for top 5. Also, Nick Foles and Chip Kelly are both making their first playoff appearance. Drew Brees and Sean Payton? They only won a Super Bowl together. Also, the Saints had a better regular season record in a tougher division.
That said, we all know that the Saints have never won a road playoff game, because the sports media can't shut up about it. They don't play well outdoors, or in the cold (and it is going to be f-ing freezing in Philly tomorrow night). The Eagles come in to the playoffs smokin' hot, going 7-1 over their last 7 games. The Saints, not so much, having lost 3 of their last 5. And the Eagles are playing with house money at this point, which means they have pretty much nothing to lose.
ESPN jut quoted an interesting stat: the Saints only averaged 18 points in road games this year. If that holds true tomorrow night, the Eagles got this. On the other hand, the Eagles are favored by 2.5. And when teams are evenly matched, the home team is normally favored by 3. Which means the margin for error is razor-thin.
Here's the thing: my head says Saints. They have to win a road playoff game sometime, and I'm pretty sure Drew Brees will pick the Eagles secondary apart. I'm probably going to have a nightmare about Jimmy Graham tonight.
My heart says Eagles. Of course, but also the second half of the season (aside from the outlier that was the Vikings game) has been magical. I'm not ready for it to end yet, and I don't believe they are, either.
For what it's worth, Chef Spouse thinks the Eagles will win this week, beat the Panthers next week, and then go on to lose the NFC Championship Game in Seattle, as he puts it, "just like old times!"
I gotta go with my heart: EAGLES! #FlyEaglesFly
In the other matchups:
Chiefs at Colts: Speaking of inconsistent teams, hello Chiefs/Colts. Both of these teams are capable of playing great or stinking it up, and it's hard to know which you're going to get. This is the only game where weather won't be a factor this weekend, which favors passing offense, and even without Reggie Wayne, the Colts have a significant advantage over the Chiefs there. Sorry, Big Red, but I think your trip stops here. Colts.
Chargers at Bengals: The Chargers backed into the playoffs. And while the Bengals are stuck with Andy Dalton, they also have an INSANE defense. And did you hear that it's going to snow and then temperature is going to drop like crazy in Cincinnati Sunday? And the Chargers play in San Diego? Yeah, I got the Bengals. I don't think they're going anywhere else in the playoffs, but I think they'll win this week. Bengals.
49ers at Packers: The Packers, who limped into the playoffs, are down to Aaron Rodgers and, uh, well, that's pretty much it at this point. Now, the high is going to be FOUR in Lambeau Sunday, and the 49ers are a Cali team, too. But they're a running team, and I think they'll run well in the cold and beat the Packers. 49ers.