Giants (1-2) vs Saints (2-1)
Last week the New Orleans Saints battled
it out with the Falcons in a high scoring game in Atlanta. It was a 37-37 tie
at the end of regulation. The Saints started off with the ball in overtime, and
their long drive finished with a one yard touchdown run by quarterback Drew Brees
for a 43-37 win.
The Giants were on the road in Texas for the second week in
a row. They had lost to the Cowboys the first time and had better luck with the
Houston Texans. They scored on their opening drive, and led throughout the game
to finish up with a 27-22 win, their first of the season.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints had three
straight years of 7-9 records, starting off 0-3 in two of those seasons. They
dropped the first two games last year before putting it all together, and they
won the next eight. New Orleans finished with an 11-5 record, and claimed the
NFC South division title. The Saints had homefield advantage in the wildcard round
and beat Carolina, before traveling to Minnesota, where they lost in the NFC Divisional
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings,
and with his team down by one point, he had his quarterback Case Keenum throw
a 61 yard desperation touchdown pass that won the game as time expired. It was
a sudden end to the Saints turn around season. There was at least the consolation
that their running back Alvin Kamara was named the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the
Year, and cornerback Marshon Lattimore the Defensive Rookie of the Year. That
has set them up nicely to help succeed again in 2018.
Drew Brees leads an explosive offense
with his quarterback skills. He's always had a high completion percentage, and
last year he set an NFL record, completing 72 percent. Over the season's first
three games he's averaging 80.6 percent, and has made Michael Thomas the NFL's
leading receiver with 38 catches for 398 yards, and three touchdowns. Thomas has
caught an amazing 38 of 40 passes thrown his way, so the Giants secondary knows
what it has to do. Running back Mark Ingram was their top rusher last year, and
the Giants catch a break since he won't return until next week, after serving
an NFL imposed four game suspension for PEDs.
Their rushing has taken a hit
without Ingram working in conjunction with then rookie Alvin Kamara, dropping
from 129.4 yards on the ground per game to 82.7. It was a great one-two running
back punch for defenders to deal with, and so far the way the Saints have used
Kamara, he has twice as many receiving yards (289) as rushing yards (141). You
want your running backs to score touchdowns on the ground, and Kamara has two,
but so does Brees, having to run twice to make it work last game.
Their ground defense is pretty
good. They picked up where they left off last year, and currently rank 6th in
the NFL, giving up an average of 84.3 yards a game. The Saints have recorded 6
sacks so far this season with four of them coming from defensive end Cameron Jordan,
who had two last game. Jordan led the team in that area last year with 13. Their
other top sack leader,Alex Okafor, is returning from a torn Achilles tendon, and
some training camp injuries to his knee and ankle. The Saints moved up in the
draft to select, defensive end Marcus Davenport, and the rookie got his first
sack last week.
The Saints defensive problem is with pass protection, where
they rank 30th, having given up 1,010 yards through three weeks. They also rank
last in the league, giving up 10.2 yards per passing attempt, and tied for last,
having allowed 10 touchdown passes. To make matters worse, veteran nickel cornerback
Patrick Robinson was just placed on injured reserve. Robinson was one of their
top free agent signings, and he broke his left ankle in the Atlanta game. Cornerback
Marshon Lattimore was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he'll be looking
out for Odell Beckham Jr.
How does 21 receptions for 137 yards
over three games sound? There's also 216 rushing yards, averaging 4.7 yards per
carry, with two touchdowns to add to the mix. Did the Giants make the right choice
in the draft picking Saquon Barkley, when they could have had a possible star
quarterback for the future? They could have, but the problem is they already have
a star quarterback hanging around calmly waiting for some talented players to
appear around him.
The season got off to a slow start, but with the Giants
offensive line clocking in as an at least average unit, things are beginning to
happen. In the Giants 27-22 victory in Houston, Odell Beckham Jr. caught 9 passes
for 109 yards, and Sterling Shepard pulled in 6 for 80 yards and 1 touchdown.
Manning missed connecting with his top receivers on only two passes on the day,
Barkley caught all five, and Rhett Ellison all three. Ellison will see more action
now with Evan Engram out with a knee injury. If the offensive line holds up again,
even if the Saints slow down the Giants running game, their passing defense is
in for a workout.
Last week the Giants were able
to get pressure on Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson playing behind an unsettled
offensive line. They had 11 quarterback hits and three sacks, two in the fourth
quarter. The young quarterback was playing in only his 10th career game. The Saints
Drew Brees is in his 18th season, and his offensive line is considerably better.
The Giants sure could use linebacker Olivier Vernon for his pass rushing abilities,
but he is still unavailable. Veteran Kerry Wynn has stepped up and played well,
especially last week, where he had five tackles, a quarterback hit, and forced
The Brees connection to wide receiver Michael Thomas is brutal on
defenses, and Janoris Jenkins will have to be at his best. Jenkins, B.W. Webb
(a former Saint), and safeties Landon Collins and Curtis Riley got a real workout
last week. They could be in for more of the same, as once again the Giants will
be without cornerback Eli Apple. It would be interesting if cornerback Kamrin
Moore plays in this game. He was drafted by the Saints in the sixth round, worked
with the team for four months, and was claimed by the Giants off waivers.
the Saints handle a breeze? They do a bit better playing under a dome. As far
as throwing goes, Drew Brees is 65-56 with 200 touchdowns and 107 interceptions
outdoors, and 79-53 with 296 touchdowns and 121 interceptions indoors. Will that
make a difference? Not as much as keeping Michael Thomas so well covered that
Brees doesn't throw the ball his way, and that Alvin Kamara is somehow blocked
away from being a viable second option.
Will that happen? Not by a long shot,
but maybe enough to make a difference. It will be more on the Giants offense to
assist their defense by keeping Brees off the field for as much as possible. They
do have the weapons to do that, and their offensive line has had one week under
their belts working together to build on. Based on that, and the fact that the
Saints have poor pass protection, I'd go with the Giants.
Sunday at 1:00pm Lions (1-2)
at Cowboys (1-2).
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (2-1) at Titans (2-1).
at 4:25pm Saints (2-1) at Giants (1-2).
The Cowboys and Eagles are the only
NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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is the first Giant to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage in his first 3 games.
is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and has
353 yards from scrimmage.
Kamara is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and
leads the NFL with 430 yards from scrimmage.
Drew Brees has completed 80.6% passes, and thrown 8 touchdown passes without an
Saints Drew Brees has a
career total NFL-record 6,326 completions.
Oct 7 Giants at Panthers.
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