clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2014 NFL playoffs, Saints vs. Eagles: Keys to the game

Two top offensive teams meet in the NFC wild card game. Now it's time to take a look at what makes them tick. SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

Two of the league's best offensive teams meet on Saturday night in the NFC wild card. There are five important statistics that will help define the playoff matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

No. 1: Saints need to force turnovers

There has been a long-standing tradition for the Saints -- amazing offense and mediocre defense. Coordinator Rob Ryan helped flip the script on these expectations and this team is a touch closer to the unit that helped in a Super Bowl.

"Being opportunistic" is a phrase that's often used when talking about the New Orleans defense and it's apt. The Saints forced a turnover in 11 games this season, holding a impressive 9-2 record in these games.

This ideal is easier hoped for than achieved, with the Eagles turning the ball over very rarely. They had five games without one, and another six games with just one turnover.

No. 2: Rushing rules for Eagles

Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly is widely regarded as an offensive genius, but the perception of him at the NFL level seems to hover around the quarterback position. The truth of the Eagles' effectiveness is its run game, which needs to be firing on all cylinders for them to win.

The Eagles rushed for 100 yards or less on four occasions in 2013, all losses. In contests where they managed to rush for 125+ yards, their record improved to 8-2.

New Orleans held seven teams under 100 yards this season.

No. 3: Accuracy is key

Drew Brees is widely known as a volume passer who can put the Saints on his back, but the team's ability to win extends beyond him throwing for a lot of yards and touchdowns.

Accuracy is what separates Brees from the pack. It allows him to bring much-needed reliability to an offense that can't lean on a grinding ground game. The passing figures for Brees are staggering, but there is a very definite mark that he needs to hit.

In games where he completes 69-percent of his passes or better, the Saints won nine of their 12 games. When he drops below the team becomes less reliable, falling to 2-4.

No. 4: Scoring the quick touchdown

Getting off to a hot start is key in Philadelphia's ability to maintain their uptempo offense and more importantly force opposing teams to play to their strengths.

The Eagles are undefeated when they score at least a touchdown in the first quarter, while all six of their losses in the regular season happened when they failed to reach this mark.

It's hard to know how this works against another quick-scoring team, but it's something to watch.

No. 5: Home is where the heart is

The New Orleans Saints can play away from the Superdome in 2013, just not very well. All five of the team's losses came on the road, including an embarrasing loss to St. Louis.

However, there wasn't a definitive home field advantage for the Eagles this season. They finished 4-4 at Lincoln Financial Field, ensuring it's anyone's game -- if the Saints can handle the conditions.

More from SB Nation NFL

AFC playoff bracket | NFC playoff bracket | Expert picks

The Notebook: Boldin, Blount, Hardy poised for playoff dominance

NFL coaching carousel | Bucs hire Smith | Texans choose O’Brien

2014 NFL mock draft: Offseason planning begins for 20 teams

Death of a football player: Helmet-to-helmet hit killed Derek Sheely