First playoff test for Eagles: The Saints

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees runs in for a TD during the Saints' 42-17 victory over the Bucs.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees runs in for a TD during the Saints' 42-17 victory over the Bucs. (Tampa Bay Times)
Posted: December 31, 2013

The Eagles will open the playoffs at Lincoln Financial Field against a team that has struggled a bit this season on the road.

The NFC East champion Eagles will host the wild-card New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs Saturday at 8:10 p.m.

The Eagles (10-6) are the No. 3 seed. New Orleans earned the No. 6 seed with Sunday's 42-17 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints were 11-5 this season - 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road.

Sunday's win snapped the Saints' two-game losing streak. The Saints had suffered consecutive losses at St. Louis and Carolina.

New Orleans' other road losses were at New England, the New York Jets, and Seattle.

This will be the third postseason meeting between the Eagles and Saints. The Saints beat the Eagles, 27-24, at the Superdome in a divisional game on Jan. 13, 2007.

The Eagles won an NFC wild-card playoff, 36-20, on Jan. 3, 1993, also at the Superdome.

The last time the Eagles met the Saints was Nov. 5, 2012. The Eagles lost that game, 28-13, in New Orleans.

This is the 10th time in franchise history that New Orleans has advanced to the playoffs, and the fourth time in the last five years. Under coach Sean Payton, the Saints have advanced to the playoffs five times.

"Obviously it is what you work for all year - a chance to be able to keep playing week to week," tight end Jimmy Graham told reporters. "Tonight we were able to do that, and it feels good."

Few players present a more difficult matchup problem than Graham, who finished this season with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and a team-record 16 touchdown catches.

The Saints, like the Eagles, bounced back from a losing season a year ago. The Eagles were 4-12, and the Saints, with Payton suspended because of the team's bounty controversy, were 7-9.

For the Saints to reach the Super Bowl, they not only need Graham on his game but they will have to earn three road playoff wins. Quarterback Drew Brees didn't hesitate when asked by reporters if the Saints could win three road playoff contests.

"Absolutely," said Brees, who finished with a passer rating of 104.7. "We are good enough to do whatever we set out to do."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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