Eagles-Saints player matchups to watch in Week 17

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The Eagles (13-2) will host the New Orleans Saints (6-9) at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon.

Here are some matchups to watch:

Alvin Kamara vs. Eagles linebackers

The Saints have the 18th-ranked offense in the NFL and they don’t strike much fear into anyone with Andy Dalton at quarterback. But Kamara is still a good and dangerous player. Last week in the Saints’ win over the Browns, Kamara accounted for 110 of their 244 offensive yards. He had 20 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown and caught 2 passes for 34 yards. In 13 games, Kamara has 717 rushing yards and 480 receiving yards with 4 total touchdowns.

The Eagles have been very good against the run recently. Kamara could give them some fits as a passing weapon, though, especially because the Saints are pretty depleted at receiver. Their best option has been rookie Chris Olave, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury. So even if he plays this week, keep an eye on his health.

Saints guards vs. Eagles DTs

The Saints have had some injuries to their offensive line this year. Last week, they entered the Browns game with Andrus Peat at left guard and Calvin Throckmorton at right guard. Throckmorton was in there because Cesar Ruiz is out for the season with a Lisfranc injury. And then Peat was carted inside last week with an ankle injury so the Saints put in former Eagle and NFL journeyman Josh Andrews, who was elevated from the practice squad.

Even if Peat plays on Sunday, this is still a matchup the Eagles should be able to take advantage of. PFF ranks Peat as the 69th best guard of 83 in the NFL and Throckmorton is 82 of 83. But now the Saints could be down to two backups in those two positions, going against an Eagles interior that includes Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Linval Joseph, Ndamukong Suh and Milton Williams. So much of the Eagles’ pressure recently has come off the edge and that could still happen on Sunday, but there might be a few races to the quarterback.

Taysom Hill vs. Jonathan Gannon

Like we mentioned, the Saints offense won’t strike a lot of fear into opponents but Taysom Hill is a challenge. He’s a quarterback/running back/receiver/blocker and the Saints use him all over the field in plenty of different ways.

“He plays a lot of positions,” Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon said. “We were just talking about it. He plays quarterback, tight end, receiver, running back. He does it all. .. We have to know that hey, this is what they like to do with him, this is why he's a match-up issue for defenses if you allow it to be, and we have to have a good plan for him when they deploy him in different ways.

“It makes this offense hard to defend because of how they use certain players that they have at their disposal. We have a big-time challenge, and we have to be on it.”

Hill this season has completed 11 of 17 passes for 216 yards with 2 touchdowns, has rushed for 500 yards with 6 touchdowns and has caught 7 passes for 66 yards and another couple scores. He’s the first NFL player with 2 passing, 2 rushing and 2 receiving touchdowns in a season since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

Eagles right tackle vs. Cameron Jordan

The Eagles will be without Lane Johnson (abdomen) for a while and this is a bad week to not have their right tackle. Because seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan works from the defensive left and could be a big matchup problem for the Eagles on Sunday.

Jordan this season has started 14 games and has 5 1/2 sacks, 10 QB hits and 11 TFLs. He wasn’t named a Pro Bowler, snapping his streak of consecutive Pro Bowls at 5 but he’s still a good player.

The Eagles are working through their options at right tackle. They will either starter backup Jack Driscoll or they’ll move Jordan Mailata to the right side and play Andre Dillard at left tackle. This decision might be made with long-term thoughts in mind, but it’ll have an impact on Sunday’s game.

Eagles' QB vs. Tyrann Mathieu

Whether it’s Gardner Minshew or Jalen Hurts starting for the Eagles at quarterback on Sunday, they’ll have to know where Tyrann Mathieu is on every snap. While Mathieu hasn’t made the types of splash plays some in New Orleans were hoping for, he’s been pretty solid. And he’s coming off a really impressive 11-tackle game against the Browns on Christmas Eve.

Mathieu this season has 2 interceptions, 7 pass breakups, 81 tackles and 1 sack but the Saints are using him all over the field. He gets snaps in the box, at free safety and in the slot for New Orleans. And PFF ranks him as the No. 5 safety in the NFL. He’s not at his All-Pro peak right now but Mathieu is still a really solid player.

Eagles weapons vs. impressive pass defense

The Saints have been without top cornerback Marshon Lattimore for a couple months but their pass defense has held up. In fact, the Saints have the NFL’s No. 4-ranked pass defense. Without Lattimore, the Saints’ cornerbacks have been Paulson Adebo, Alontae Taylor and Bradley Roby.

Taylor, the rookie out of Tennessee, has been playing well recently. But the Eagles should have a decided advantage with this matchup. Adebo has really struggled this season, ranking as PFF’s 116th-ranked CB out of 121 league-wide. Adebo has given up a team-high 44 catches for 554 yards and 4 touchdowns this season.

The Eagles, meanwhile, have gotten back-to-back 100-yard games from A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Those guys have been incredible.

Look for the Eagles to throw to their receivers in this game, but it might be tougher to get Dallas Goedert involved. While the Eagles will always work to get him targets, the Saints have been very good against tight ends, giving up just 54 catches for 462 yards and 2 touchdowns to opposing TEs all season. That’s the fewest yards surrendered to tight ends in the NFL. Linebacker Demario Davis, finally a Pro Bowler, has been outstanding all year. But keep an eye on linebacker depth in this game because Pete Werner and Kaden Elliss have both been on the injury report this week.

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