Eagles vs Saints

Eagles vs Saints : New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton dismisses the premise that the Philadelphia Eagles could derive extra motivation from the widespread perception that New Orleans ran up the score on them when they met in November.

“My question would be: We’re all playing hard in these divisional playoff games, right?” Payton began, referring to Sunday’s rematch in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. “Are you going to play harder” because of a perceived slight?

Still, Payton expects a more competitive affair than the Saints’ 48-7 blowout of the Eagles on Nov. 18, which gave Philadelphia the dubious distinction of becoming the first reigning Super Bowl champion to lose by that wide a margin in the following regular season.

The Saints, after a first-round bye, begin a postseason in which they’re the NFC’s top seed and don’t have to leave New Orleans, as long as they keep winning, until heading to Atlanta for the Super Bowl. But first, they’ll have to unseat the defending Super Bowl champs, facing the Eagles in an intriguing conference semifinal and the weekend’s final game.

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Already, some wonder if the Eagles should reconsider their long-term commitment to Wentz and stick with Foles, whose contract contains a $20 million mutual option for next season, as their future starter. But it’s first things first, and the Eagles’ task this weekend is daunting: They lost, 48-7, at the Superdome in November.

EXPERT PREDICTIONS

Nick Underhill | Saints 34, Eagles 23

It’s a different game. We know. But New Orleans still beat this team by 41 points earlier this season. Nick Foles is a fine quarterback, but there is no magic here. This team is only here because the Bears missed a field goal. The Saints will finish the job.

Rod Walker | Saints 24, Eagles 21

This one won’t be as easy as the Saints’ 48-7 beatdown in October. The Eagles are much healthier this time around and that Nick Foles magic from a year ago is trying to reappear. But the Saints are well rested, and the Dome will be rocking enough to get the Saints a step closer to Atlanta.

Scott Rabalais | Saints 28, Eagles 20

Philadelphia is playing with a peculiar brand of confidence, and New Orleans has not matched the ruthless efficiency with which it crushed the Eagles in Week 11. That said, there is a big difference in closing the gap and overcoming it. There will be some nervous moments, but the Saints march on.

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