After narrowly falling to the Raiders by a score of 35-34, the Saints will look to earn their first win of the season against the New York Giants. The Giants, on the other hand, are coming off a win in Dallas. Last year, the matchup between the two teams proved to be quite the shootout; the final score was 52-49. The Giants defense has improved through several free agent acquisitions. The Saints defense looked slightly improved last week until their fourth quarter meltdown that resulted in 22 points and a loss.
Five Things to Look For
1) Saints Secondary
The secondary already had plenty of question marks, but after Delvin Breaux went down with a broken fibula, things got even messier. Cornerback Sterling Moore was brought in last week but was inactive. He will likely be active against the Giants. P.J. Williams was beaten by Amari Cooper several times last week. There’s a chance defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will implement more zone coverages to offset the loss of Delvin Breaux. Will De-Vante Harris move outside? Will Sterling Moore replace Breaux on the outside? Those are all questions that will be answered very quickly.
The New Orleans Saints pass rush was disappointing against Oakland. They were unable to sack quarterback Derek Carr once. Although there were a few plays where the Saints pass rush came close to sacking Carr, they failed to bring him down. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has a history of blitzing often, but he opted not to blitz much last week. Expect him to change that against the Giants. The Giants’ offensive line isn’t quite as sturdy as the Raiders’, so there is a chance the Saints’ four-man pass rush will be more successful. Blitzing will guarantee a better chance of getting to Eli Manning.
3) Switching Between the 3-4 and 4-3
Dennis Allen made it clear that he wanted his defense to be multiple, and the defense certainly proved to be multiple as they showed both 3-4 and 4-3 looks against the Raiders. Nick Fairley, Tyeler Davison, and Cameron Jordan played on the line in the 3-4. When they shifted to the 4-3, Paul Kruger and Kasim Edebali were the typical fill-ins at weak-side defensive end. The three-man front has the ability to create some confusion, but they failed to create pressure for the most part.
4) Willie Snead
Willie Snead went off against the Raiders. He caught 9 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. I expect Snead to kill it once again. Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas will demand plenty of attention on the outside. Willie Snead has become Drew Brees’ safety net, and that will result in plenty of targets against the Giants. Last week, I predicted Snead would catch for more than 100 yards. This week, I predict he’ll top 125 receiving yards.
5) Offensive Line Play
The offensive line was impressive last week. Despite the fact that they were awful during the preseason, they managed to pull it off against an impressive duo of Oakland pass rushers. The Giants added two important pieces to their defensive line in free agency with the additions of Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison. Pair those two with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and you have quite the defensive front. The Saints did a good job of erasing Khalil Mack, so it’ll be interesting to see how they attack Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Despite the Saints’ success in pass protection, they need to create more of a push in the run game. Mark Ingram had 12 rushing attempts, and his rushing attempts resulted in 58 yards for a solid average of 4.8 yards/carry. Collectively, the team averaged 4 yards a carry. I don’t blame the team for not running the ball as Drew Brees couldn’t be stopped, but the lack of rushing attempts forced the defense to come on the field. Against the Giants, the Saints must achieve balance offensively.
- Brandin Cooks will have at least one touchdown and 130 receiving yards. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins recently talked down on Cook’s abilities by saying he “is just a fast guy that can get vertical.” Well, Cooks is going to display his ability to get vertical by beating Jenkins for a long touchdown.
- Odell Beckham Jr. will have two touchdown catches. He was able to beat the Saints with Delvin Breaux, and he’ll have no problem beating the Saints without Delvin Breaux. Although he will have two touchdown catches, the Saints will keep him under 100 receiving yards.
- The Saints defense will sack Eli Manning four times. Dennis Allen is going to blitz a lot, and it’s going to work. Kenny Vaccaro, Cam Jordan, Paul Kruger, and Craig Robertson will each have a sack.