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Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
When: 01.10 (GMT)
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Nick Foles grew up idolizing Drew Brees and followed in his footsteps when he played quarterback at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.
Brees has already won a Super Bowl, but Foles will be playing in his first playoff game Saturday night when his Philadelphia Eagles meet a New Orleans Saints team that will be looking to win on the road in the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Foles, who is 10 years younger than Brees, led the NFC East champion Eagles (10-6) to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. The second-year quarterback went 8-2 as the starter and appeared in 13 games, throwing 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions. His 0.6 interception percentage led the league among quarterbacks who played in more than half of their team’s games.
Playing in first-year coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense, Foles was terrific down the stretch. He completed 74.5 percent of his passes over the final two weeks of the season and passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the finale Sunday night as Philadelphia won 24-22 in Dallas to clinch the division title.
The Eagles are also led by LeSean McCoy, who topped the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards while catching 52 passes for 539 yards for a league-best 2,146 scrimmage yards. DeSean Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine TDs.
Those threats made Philadelphia’s offense difficult for opponents to figure out. The team led the NFC with 247 plays of 10 or more yards.
However, the Eagles will be in for a tough test against a Saints defense that was efficient in limiting big plays, allowing only five touchdowns of 20 or more yards to rank second in the conference.
Brees had another terrific season in leading the Saints (11-5) to a wild-card berth, ranking only behind Denver’s Peyton Manning with 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns. His favorite target has been tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and an NFL-best 16 touchdowns.
An issue for the team, though, was its troubles away from New Orleans. The Saints went 8-0 while averaging 34.0 points at home compared to 3-5 while scoring 17.8 per game on the road.
The Saints lost their final three road games, getting outscored 78-36, and are 0-5 all-time in playoff contests away from home.