There really isn’t any argument that New Orleans is the most complete team among the remaining NFC playoff teams; when healthy, they are pretty equivalent to the offense in LA, with a far better defense than the Rams have. “When healthy” is the kicker – I think James McNeill is spot-on in his comments about the offensive line. With a healthy Ginn and Armstead, that offense is a completely different animal from the anemic one we witnessed down the stretch with the offensive line decimated by injuries. Knowing how tight-lipped Sean Payton is about injury status, we won’t know about the true state of the Saints’ O-line health until the game starts; however, my assumption is that Armstead will be very limited or unavailable for most of the playoffs – the kind of injury he had takes a while to truly heal (as witnessed by his re-aggravating it after sitting out for several weeks). Since he never gets through a complete season healthy, the Saints have gotten pretty accustomed to finding ways to play without him and are pretty good at it; that ability will drop off very quickly, though, if others with injuries on the line (Ramczyk, Warford, Peat) are significantly limited or unavailable.
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Philadelphia – without attracting too much attention, they have gotten on a roll and gotten their offensive line healthy, and I think a lot of people have forgotten just how dominant that line is when they are right. They have completely neutralized the best pass-rushers in the league over the past few weeks, and they have skill-position people who can give the Saints some problems. Their secondary is still suspect and can be exploited, but that requires the offensive line giving Brees some time (see previous point about health). LA – they haven’t been nearly as terrifying on offense since Cooper Kupp went down, but they still have a lot of weapons and a really creative offensive coach. Their defense has been pretty mediocre, which is remarkable given how much money and draft capital they spent on it. I probably have them #2 here mainly because of my lurking fear that they will decide actually to play up to their talent level on that side of the ball.