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Biggest sleeper in Eagles-Saints: Taysom Hill is more than just a backup QB for the Saints

The last time the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles faced each other, the Saints handed the Eagles the biggest loss ever for a defending Super Bowl champion. It looked like the Saints even ran up the score a bit in the 48-7 win.

A lot has changed since then, mostly with the Eagles. Nick Foles took over quarterback from the injured Carson Wentz and the 6-7 Eagles have won four in a row. That includes last week’s wild-card playoff win over the Chicago Bears. The Eagles should put up a much better fight against the Saints this time.

Here are the top sleepers from each team for Sunday afternoon’s divisional-round playoff game:

New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill

There’s a good reason announcers gush about Hill every Saints broadcast, presumably after New Orleans coach Sean Payton gushes about Hill in production meetings with the broadcast team.

Hill is a unique player, and the Saints use him as such. It must take a special player to take the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands, which happens when No. 7 lines up at quarterback.

Hill ended up playing 182 offensive snaps this season, about 17.3 percent of the Saints’ offensive snaps. He played double-digit snaps in 10 of the Saints’ last 13 games. You should see a lot of him on Sunday afternoon, and the Saints will use him in many creative ways.

It’s usually old-school football when Hill is at quarterback. He threw only seven passes all season, completing three for 64 yards. Defenses have to pay attention to the threat of the pass from the former BYU quarterback, but he’s most likely to run. Hill had 37 rushing attempts for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns. At 221 pounds, Hill is a fantastic athlete and a tough runner.

“He was the strongest player on our team, the fastest player on our team and the best athlete at any position on our team,” Bronco Mendenhall, Hill’s coach at BYU, told the Washington Post. “And it wasn’t close.”

Hill can also impact Sunday’s game on special teams. He had 14 kickoff returns with a 24.9-yard average. His blocked punt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14 was the key play in a win, turning a game around that the Saints trailed 14-3 at the time of Hill’s big play.

Hill will line up just about anywhere on the field when the Saints use him, from quarterback to tight end. He’ll be on special teams. And with the bye week to get creative, it’s a good bet Payton has some special plans for Hill.

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ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 18: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after pulling in a touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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FOXBOROUGH, MA – NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball as his jersey is grabbed by Lawrence Guy #93 of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 04: Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers attempts to make a catch while being guarded by Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 04, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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FOXBOROUGH, MA – OCTOBER 04: Eric Ebron #85 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Patrick Chung #23 and Dont’a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

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Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) makes a catch over Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (23), makes a catch during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, top, dives over the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, including Jordan Dangerfield (37) and Anthony Chickillo (56), to score a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Miami Dolphins’ Reshad Jones stops Green Bay Packers’ Lance Kendricks during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) sits on the turf after being sacked by the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates after he broke the NFL all-time passing yards record in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in New Orleans, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Minnesota Vikings’ Adam Thielen (19) catches a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles’ Ronald Darby (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Carolina Panthers’ Colin Jones (42) recovers a New York Giants fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel, bottom, loses the ball as he is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) and linebacker L.J. Fort (54) in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Driskel recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

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Green Bay Packers’ J’Mon Moore (82) is tackled by New York Jets kicker Jason Myers, bottom, while trying to return a kickoff by Myers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

FOXBOROUGH, MA – DECEMBER 23: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots dives for the end zone to score a 32-yard receiving touchdown during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 23: Jalen Tolliver #17 of the Arizona Cardinals reaches for a pass in front of Aqib Talib #21 of the Los Angeles Rams in the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 23: Ryan Grant #11 of the Indianapolis Colts attempts to catch a pass in the game against Janoris Jenkins #20 of the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert

The Eagles didn’t need Goedert when they traded up to take him in the second round of the 2018 draft, moving ahead of the Dallas Cowboys to pick him. But they saw the possibilities of having Goedert and Zach Ertz on the same offense.

Ertz set a single-season record for receptions by a tight end this season, and the Saints will see plenty of him in Sunday’s playoff game. But Goedert will be a big part of the offense too.

Goedert had only two catches for 20 yards last week, but they were two of the bigger plays of the Eagles’ win. He had a touchdown early in the game. Then with the Eagles trailing late, Goedert made some spectacular moves on a second-and-10, getting a first down. The Eagles scored the game-winning touchdown at the end of that drive.

Goedert was a contributor in the first half of the season, then got lost a bit in the offense. From Weeks 10-13, Goedert failed to catch a pass in three of four games. But Goedert has caught multiple passes in all five games since then. He’s a big, athletic matchup problem, and benefits from Ertz getting a lot of defensive attention.

The Eagles’ top receiver this season was Ertz, but their second tight end is pretty good too, and Goedert might end up playing an important role again on Sunday.

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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