Saints vs. Eagles Week 17 Top Picks: Is Jalen Hurts Back Already?

profile image of scottkacsmar
Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with Quez Watkins #16 and DeVonta Smith #6 against the Chicago Bears on December 18, 2022. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP.

Score Prediction: Eagles 24 – Saints 16

NFL Pick: Eagles -6.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Bovada logo
Eagles -6.5 (-110)
Visit Site

The Philadelphia Eagles (13-2) lost for only the second time this season, but with quarterback Jalen Hurts already eyeing a return this Sunday, they are still in great shape for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. They just need to beat the New Orleans Saints (6-9), who are coming off the coldest win in franchise history in Cleveland.

The Eagles lit up the Saints in a 40-29 win last November. What do they have in store this week in a rematch? The Eagles are a 6.5-point home favorite with a total of 44 points at many of the best sportsbooks. We have a few predictions for this NFC matchup.

New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, January 01, 2023 – 01:00 PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field

Jalen Hurts Back in the Saddle?

With the Eagles unable to clinch the No. 1 seed in Dallas last week, they may look to get Jalen Hurts back on the field this Sunday against the Saints. His sprained shoulder remains a problem, but if Hurts is cleared, then there is no reason not to play him this week. The time for rest will come later when the Eagles are enjoying their bye week as the top seed.

It would also be fitting for Hurts to return against the Saints, one of his best opponents. New Orleans was the first team Hurts started against in his NFL career in 2020, and he led an upset win as a rookie in a game where he rushed for 106 yards.

Last year, Hurts again beat the Saints (40-29) in a game that saw him run the ball 18 more times for 67 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Hurts has slipped to No. 4 in the MVP odds after his absence last week, but it would be good for the team to get him back before the playoffs instead of seeing him try to shake off the rust in a divisional-round playoff game. However, it is not a given he plays this Sunday, so it could be another dose of Minshew Mania for the Eagles.

Gardner Minshew Is Just Fine

Gardner Minshew was not the reason the Eagles lost in Dallas. While he could have managed the final drive better in the 40-34 loss, the game had no business getting to that point after the Eagles twice led by 10 points and led 34-27 in the fourth quarter behind a strong performance by Minshew in his first start of 2022.

Minshew had 2 interceptions, but both were passes thrown to an accurate spot to Quez Watkins. The small wide receiver was just outmuscled for the ball on both passes, including one in the fourth quarter that hurt.

Minshew also was charged with a fumble on a play where he was handing off to a running back, and the back was the one who botched the exchange. Those get charged to the quarterback since they were the last player to possess the ball. Miles Sanders also had a very costly fumble late in the fourth quarter, and the defense allowed a third-and-30 conversion to T.Y. Hilton for 52 yards.

The only 2 losses for the Eagles have seen them turn the ball over 4 times. They have 14 turnovers in their last 7 games after only 3 giveaways during the 8-0 start. They’ll have to start protecting it better, but this offense is still dynamic and prolific with Minshew or Hurts.

One player the Eagles won’t have for sure this week is right tackle Lane Johnson, so that is something to watch for. But they should be fine.

Does It Matter if the Saints Can’t Stop the Run?

If the quarterback is Hurts for Philadelphia, it presents an interesting statistical dilemma. In the last 2 years, Hurts has run the ball 18 times against the Saints in each game while throwing for about 155 yards. The Saints have actually held him to 5.8 yards per pass and under 26% first downs per pass attempt, so throwing the ball hasn’t been great for Hurts against the Saints.

Of course, his receivers are better this year with the addition of A.J. Brown and the development of DeVonta Smith. The Saints have declined on defense and are one of the worst units at getting pressure on the quarterback. However, it would be wise for the Eagles to not have Hurts run so much with a sprained shoulder. We know the Eagles have a very capable running game with Miles Sanders and the other backs.

Nevertheless, the Saints are a very odd team this year in that they are 4-2 when they allow more than 145 rushing yards, and 2-7 when they allow fewer than 145 yards. This is usually the other way around, as losing teams allow more rushing yards late in games. Winning teams generally allow fewer rushing yards because teams abandon the run while trailing late in games.

But that 4-2 record for the Saints when allowing a lot of rushing yards is great. The only team with a better record this year happens to be the Eagles, who are 3-1 in such games.

Odd Results

However, where these teams differ is that the Eagles are 10-1 when they allow teams to rush for under 145 yards, tied with Minnesota for the best record in the league. The Saints are 2-7 (.222), and only the Texans (1-4) have a worse record.

It’s an odd result for the Saints, who were 36-7 when allowing under 145 rushing yards in 2018-20. But that was when Drew Brees was the quarterback and Sean Payton was the head coach. Things are much different with Dennis Allen and Andy Dalton.

The Saints have had plenty of random results this year, from a 24-0 shutout win over the Raiders to a 13-0 shutout loss to the 49ers. They also beat the Seahawks 39-32 and lost to the Cardinals 42-34.

But this team has scored under 20 points in all but 2 road games this year, and we know the Saints generally perform worse on the road late in the season as a dome team. The Eagles also have the corners to take care of rookie wideout Chris Olave from having a big game.

Saints vs. Eagles: Game Prediction and Picks

With the uncertainty the Eagles have at quarterback and the Johnson injury on the offensive line, it may be fair to put a lower ceiling on the offense this week. It won’t be a 35 or 40-point game.

But the Eagles are clearly the better team and have multiple ways to win this game. Andy Dalton will have a hard time going up against that pass rush, and despite what the Eagles allowed in Dallas last week, the Saints lack the firepower the Cowboys have.

At home this season, the Eagles are 6-1 with every win by more than 6.5 points. In fact, all 9 home wins under head coach Nick Sirianni have been by more than 6.5 points since 2021. Following the NFL odds, take the Eagles to cover again. For Philadelphia residents looking to bet on this game, you can check out our top Pennsylvania betting sites.

Finally, 7 of the last 8 games for the Saints have finished Under 41 points, so we feel good about Under 44 for your NFL picks.

Score Prediction: Eagles 24 - Saints 16

NFL Pick: Eagles -6.5 (-110) at Bovada

NFL Pick: Under 44 (-110) at Bovada

Bovada logo
Under 44 (-110)
Visit Site

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.