Let’s rewind to last year. Darren Sproles & Pierre Thomas were killers to the Cowboys, as they combined in the passing game for 14 catches for 165 yards, and Thomas would get a touchdown. Marques Colston caught 10-153, and Jimmy Graham would catch 7-88. Drew Brees played almost perfect, going 37/53, 446 yards, 3TD, and never got sacked.
Now, we’d gladly welcome a repeat of these performances on Sunday night, but it’s honestly going to depend on a variety of things.
First and foremost, DeMarcus Ware. Anytime he’s on the field, he has to be accounted for. He is returning to action this week, after being hurt for the past several weeks. In the last meeting, he was a non-factor, only contributing one tackle on the day. However, his last trip to the Dome? He caused all sorts of havoc. The offensive line had a tough time handling the pressure of the Jets last week, and the offense never looked fully in sync. So, it always seems like a given, but the offensive line has to do a much better job of blocking, and limit the hits/pressure on Drew Brees.
Second, dominate the time of possession. See last year. Shortly after the Saints went up 24-17, they stopped Dallas, and got the ball back at their own 2 yard line. They went on to produce a 10 play, 98 yard drive that resulted in a David Thomas score, that took 4:53, and put the Saints up by 14. This wasn’t the only long drive of the game, as they had a similar drive that tied the game at 14, which consisted of 12 plays, 90 yards, and a Lance Moore score. The Saints dominated Time of Possession 41:59 to 22:28. Sean Payton has talked publicly around the lack of balance in the play selection, and while you aren’t going to see more runs than passes anytime soon, it means that Payton should give his backs a chance to make things happen. Here’s where we figure out if Khiry Robinson re-enters the picture, or we have Ingram again. We quickly saw what happened after Darren Sproles went down with injury last week, and Travaris Cadet did play, but wasn’t the dynamic to use in the Saints attack. Watch for that list to tell us how the Saints plan to attack.
Lastly, use the plethora of weapons. I alluded to this last week, and I told you that I would save it for this time, but I believe Marques Colston, assuming he plays, is about to have some huge games for the Saints. He’s been hurt, and has faced a good bit of scrutiny for his lack of presence. In big games, there’s really no other receiver I’d rather have than Colston. I honestly think he’s due, and will show it on Sunday night. We also should point out that Nick Toon has to make the catches, and get some confidence back. He’s been the least productive this season, and when he was called upon last week, he struggled to make a huge catch, and went after a ball that led to a costly interception. I have full confidence he can do things for the Saints, but again, it’s all growing pains.
What To Watch For: Drew Brees, and the tempo of the offense. Clock management was a killer last week, as the Saints suffered by using up their first half time-outs in less than a quarter, and were flagged for a few delay of game penalties. This is a completely different stage, being that they play at home, but the rhythm has to be there for the Saints to have continued success.