Which is it?

That the Eagles' defense is a ferocious, quarterback-eating machine? Or that Carolina, their first opponent, was awful enough to be made a meal of?

That the Saints' Drew Brees is on pace to shatter every passing record in the history books? Or that Detroit is on pace to set every dubious NFL mark - half of them already seemingly held by, well, the Lions?

When the Eagles and Saints meet Sunday the answer to all these questions is likely to fall somewhere in the middle (except maybe the Detroit part).

The Eagles enter their home opener with the league's top defense, a unit that forced the Carolina Panthers into seven turnovers on the way to a 38-10 whipping. New Orleans arrives at Lincoln Financial Field with the top offense and the gunslinging Brees, who fired six touchdowns against the Lions in a 45-27 victory.

Something's got to give, and the tug-of-war may ultimately come down to how the Eagles attack Brees, a quarterback they have had mixed results against in the past.

"You don't fool with him," said cornerback Sheldon Brown, who faced Brees all four times the signal caller played the Eagles. "He's a complete quarterback. He can do it all. This guy is definitely the real deal. The stats don't lie."

Last week against Detroit, Brees completed 26 of 34 passes for 358 yards. He tossed only one interception. Since he joined the team in 2006, the Saints rank first in every NFL passing category. According to Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, however, the numbers are just a by-product of the nine-year pro's ability to manage a game.

"He gets them in and out of the huddle and [controls] the tempo of the football game," said McDermott, who had a wildly successful first game in charge of the defense. "So that puts stress on the defense, and we have to be ready for that."

With an Eagles defense, it's usually the other way around. Against the Panthers, the unit blitzed quarterback Jake Delhomme into oblivion and into throwing four interceptions. Backup Josh McCown chucked another. The defense also racked up five sacks. But last week's scheme won't work against the rapid-paced Brees and his army of receivers.

"I turn on the film [of the Saints] and it looks like fast-break city, " Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. "Those guys are just flying around the field and [Brees is] just dumping it off left and right."

What makes the 6-foot Brees so hard to defend is a quick, three-step drop and an accurate trigger. He became very precise by his fourth season in San Diego, but he flourished in New Orleans in coach Sean Payton's rat-a-tat-tat offense.

"It's a timing-oriented offense," McDermott said.

In three games against the Eagles with the Saints, Brees was sacked only four times. Ever since his days at Purdue running the spread offense, the 30-year-old has been adept at avoiding rushes.

"He has great feet in the pocket and he does a tremendous job of keeping his eyes down the field to find receivers," McDermott said. "So we have to find a way to affect that and then have tight coverage at the same time."

Because Brees gets the ball off so fast, the Eagles' defensive line has been paying extra attention to getting its hands up in an attempt to bat passes from the smallish quarterback. And, of course, they'll have help from blitzing linebackers. Middle linebacker Omar Gaither actually likes his team's chances because the Eagles' cornerbacks - Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Ellis Hobbs - can be left alone.

"It's kind of, like, 'Pick your poison,' " he said. "Do you hold the ball and wait on guys to get open or do you want to get it off and hope your receivers can make a play on our good corners?"

In his four games against the Eagles, Brees has a 2-2 record and an 83.2 passer rating. He's completed 61.6 percent of his attempts, throwing six touchdowns against five interceptions.

Last season he led the NFL in passing yards (5,069) and TDs (34). He leads in both categories after Week 1. Surely, Brees isn't resting on those laurels - considering the opponent - just as the Eagles' defense isn't looking back.

"It's important that we are a different defense in Week 2 than we were in Week 1," McDermott said. "The defense in Week 1 will not be good enough to beat the crowd that we will face this week."