The 2018-2019 NFL Playoffs officially get underway tomorrow afternoon with the arrival of “Wild Card Weekend”; and while the New Orleans Saints will have a well-deserved weekend off thanks to finishing as the #1 seed in their conference and earning a 1st Round Bye, devoted Who Dat fans still will be watching the games to see who the team will play in next week’s Divisional Round.
The two games specifically that Saints fans will be tuning in to watch are the Seattle Seahawks vs. the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday Night, and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Chicago Bears on late Sunday evening.
But something they should also pay close attention to since it could potentially affect next week’s Divisional Playoff games: how well (or not) that the only other two previous Super Bowl winning QB’s besides Drew Brees in this year’s Playoffs on the NFC side — Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and Eagles QB Nick Foles — fare in their respective contests.
Wilson led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title back in 2013; as he threw for 206 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 123.1 passer rating in a 43–8 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (48).
And Foles of course led Philadelphia to a World Championship last year as the Eagles defeated New England Patriots (and the one other Super Bowl-winning QB in this year’s post-season in Patriots QB Tom Brady) by a score of 41-33 in Super Bowl LII (52).
Both the Seahawks and Eagles are “hot” at the moment as the Playoffs begin, and clearly that’s been due in part to how well both QB’s have performed in their respective situations in the recently-completed 2018 NFL Regular Season.
The Seahawks have won 6 out of their last 7 games under Wilson’s guidance, as they’ve managed to overcome a losing record (4-5) at the season’s mid-way point.
Last Sunday, Wilson’s veteran experience and leadership was on full display; as the 7th year veteran and 30-year old signal-caller led Seattle to a come-from-behind 27-24 win in their season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.
As noted by Tacoma-News Tribune beat writer Gregg Bell: Wilson was in his most comfortable and often most successful mode in that game against Arizona last week: which is running the Seahawks’ version of the “hurry-up offense” — which allows Wilson to improvise and make plays with his feet while scrambling out of the pocket.
That led to what ended up being the game’s biggest play: when Wilson called an audible and then after being flushed out of the pocket, scrambled to his right and then found WR Tyler Lockett, who then broke off his assigned route and turned it into an improvisational deep one.
It is so incredibly insane that Russell Wilson targeting Tyler Lockett netted a PERFECT 158.3 PASSER RATING this season. I know people have been tweeting it a lot. It’s still not enough. THIS IS INSANE. pic.twitter.com/beIn3rl2rQ
— Tasteful Profanity (@BeastPode) December 31, 2018
Wilson’s pass found Lockett for a for a critical 37-yard reception along the Cardinals sidelines to the Arizona 25 yard line with 45 seconds to play, to set up Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janakowski’s game-winning 42-yard field goal for the victory.
“In the fourth quarter, I think you’ve got to look forward to it. You’ve got to have no fear,” Wilson said to Bell and other writers on Wednesday. “I think also, too, you’ve got to want to have the ball in your hands. No matter if you’re down by 14, no matter if you’re down by four, no matter what the situation is, you’ve got to look forward to those moments.”
Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Foles and the Eagles have also managed to get “hot” at just the right time, as he has led the defending Super Bowl champs figuratively “back from the dead” after their season appeared to be completely over with just a few short weeks ago.
Saints fan already know that the Black and Gold CRUSHED Philadelphia at the Superdome by a score of 48-7 at back in Week #11. But since then, Philly has successfully managed to pull off a stunning late-season rally after they had a losing record (6-7) with only three games left to play.
And they managed to pull it off thanks to Foles, who led them to successive wins over the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans, and then the Washington Redskins last Sunday; after he took over for injured #1 Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
Wentz was at QB when the Eagles and Saints played in that contest at the Superdome a few weeks ago; but a back injury forced the Eagles to “shut him down” for the remainder of the season. Foles took over the reigns from Wemtz at QB, and Philly hasn’t lost a single game since.
As it’s been well-documented: Foles had replaced Wentz famously in a similar manner just a year ago, leading Philadelphia to its one and only Super Bowl title.
And you can rest assured that Foles has his sights set on repeating that performance once again in this post-season, even though he and the Eagles will have a tough time beating the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday.
“I’m surrounded by great people who do their job at a really high level. They care for one another. I’m just a small piece of the puzzle that goes in and does my job,” Foles said to Philadelphia Inquirer / Philly.com columnist Les Bowen . “Always out there playing for my coaches, playing for my teammates. I think that’s the key, especially this time of year, is, you lean on one another.”
The Eagles have certainly leaned on Foles for quite a bit in the past year and a half, and just as the Seahawks Wilson have done half-way across the country on the opposite coast for the past several years with Wilson.