New Orleans (5-5) at Philadelphia (7-3)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 51° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Nov 23, 2003
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A five-game winning streak has removed all the negativity surround the Philadelphia Eagles.

A rejuvenated Donovan McNabb and the Eagles look to make it six straight— and at least keep pace atop the NFC East—as they host the New Orleans Saints, who have also turned around their season.

Philadelphia has won seven of eight since getting outscored 48-10 in losing its first two games of the season.

Five straight wins have pushed the Eagles into a tie with Dallas for the division lead. The Cowboys, who host Carolina on Sunday, visit Philadelphia on Dec. 7.

“What you’ve seen is a determined bunch,” McNabb said. “We’ve erased the negativity in the mind of some of the Philadelphia fans and some of the people across the country.”

Confidence on the Eagles’ sideline should be high with McNabb steadily returning to Pro Bowl form and the team coming off its most convincing win of the season—against one of its biggest rivals.

Last week’s 28-10 victory over the New York Giants was the first during the five-game streak in which Philadelphia did not trail in the fourth quarter.

“If it’s a pretty win or an ugly win, whatever it may be, it’s a win,” said McNabb, who had his best game of the season as he went 24-of-30 for 314 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

McNabb has averaged a 100.6 passer rating in the last four weeks, nearly double his average from the first six games. He has not committed a turnover in any of the last three contests.

Brian Westbrook caught five of McNabb’s passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns out of the backfield. He also ran for a score and 48 yards on nine carries, continuing his emergence as the top playmaker in the Eagles’ crowded backfield.

Correll Buckhalter and Duce Staley continue to get their share of the carries, but Westbrook is the leading rusher and has a team-high eight TDs despite missing one game and barely playing in another this month due to an injured ankle.

“Every time I touch the ball, I just try to get in the end zone as fast as possible and try to make a play, make a big play if I can, and try to make something happen,” Westbrook said.

Deuce McAllister has been making plenty happen for the Saints, helping them win four of five games since starting the season 1-4.

McAllister has rushed for at least 100 yards in a team-record seven straight games, and had 83 of his 173 yards on the ground in overtime last week as New Orleans beat Atlanta 23-20. The former first-round pick also had a career-best nine receptions for 64 yards, setting a team record with 237 all-purpose yards, but could only focus on the fact that he lost two fumbles.

“I’m obviously gratified that we won, but I’m definitely disappointed for the two fumbles,” McAllister said.

Besides wanting to do a better job protecting the football, McAllister is looking to tie George Rogers for the most 100-yard games in club history with 16.

He seems to have a good chance to do it this week, facing a struggling Eagles run defense. Philadelphia has surrendered an average of 157.2 yards on the ground during its five-game win streak, including three 100-yard rushers.

The Eagles are one of the teams New Orleans is currently chasing for a playoff spot. The Saints stand two games behind Philadelphia and St. Louis in the race for one of the NFC’s two wild-card berths.

“If we win the game, then we get one game closer to them. If we lose, then we fall behind them,” Saints coach Jim Haslett said.

“They are a good team. Going up to Philadelphia in that kind of environment will be a great challenge for us.”

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