Week 14: New Orleans Saints At New York Giants
- QuarterbackDrew Brees wants to bounce back from his five-interception performance against the Falcons and he may find the Giants secondary to his liking since the Giants rank 22nd against the pass. While the Saints are not going to become a playoff team, there’s no reason to think recent difficult is anything other than a brief slump. He still has a 31-16 TD-interception ratio.Eli Manning was sharp against the Redskins in Week 13, completing 20-of-33 passes and he appears to have gotten back on track. Manning is not the kind of quarterback who concerns himself with statistical performances; he merely wants to win games. He has two Super Bowl titles to his credit and if he wants to help the Giants get another, this would be the time to push hard on the pedal.
- OffenseThe Saints are now playing out the string and you wonder if they are going to get a top effort the rest of the way. The Saints spread their running game out among four running backs. Pierre Thomas is capable of overpowering tacklers and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Marques Colston, Lance Moore and tight end Jimmy Graham give Brees a cadre of superb receivers.Despite the Giants’ recent difficulties, they are still the lead dog in the NFC East. Ahmad Bradshaw is having a much better season than he did a year ago and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. That takes pressure of Manning, who likes to throw the ball downfield to Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The Giants offensive line has some injury issues.
- DefenseThe Saints have been in disarray on defense throughout most of the season. They rank dead last in overall defense and rushing defense. That could be an issue if they get behind against the Giants and New York is able to unleash its rushing attack. Defensive end Cameron Jordan leads the Saints with 7.0 sacks.The Giants have some injury problems and that’s why they are not playing the way they did a year ago. Start with explosive defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back), who has 6.5 sacks this season, a far cry from the 16.5 sacks he had a year ago. The Giants’ best defensive player may be linebacker Chase Blackburn who has 69 tackles and 3.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsDespite their difficulties this year, the Saints have played fairly well on special teams. They have averaged 5.4 yards more per kickoff return than their opponents. Thomas Morstead is averaging an explosive 50.0 yards per punt, but Garrett Hartley has been ordinary (11-of-14) as a placekicker.The Giants have one of the best kickers in Lawrence Tynes, who has made 32-of-36 FG attempts this year and he has scored 127 points this season. Tom Coughlin knows that when Tynes trots out on the field, he is going to deliver consistently. Steve Weatherford’s net punting average of 37.7 yards is troubling. Opponents return his punts 11.1 yards per attempt.
The Saints are certainly capable of giving the Giants a scare and throwing the ball all over MetLife Stadium. However, they have a hard time playing consistent football for 60 minutes and it seems likely the Giants are hungrier and will play tougher football in this game.