Sep 7, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) scores a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 37-34 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints attempt to shake off a Week One upset loss to the Atlanta Falcons and head north to take on the Cleveland Browns. The team has not played at the ‘Dawg Pound’ since 2006, where the Saints escaped with a 19-14 win. Both teams are coming off of tough defeats, which should make for a very interesting matchup.
Impact players are those who have an influence or effect on the outcome of a game, both positively or negatively. For the Saints, I have selected five impact players who can rapidly dictate how the team fares.
The Steelers rushing attack performed well last week against the Browns. They netted 127 total rush yards (the Browns did end up gaining 183 on the Steelers). Ingram tallied two scores on the ground last week, rushing 13 times for 60 yards (4.6 yard average). The fact that the Saints offense possesses a threat in the rushing game should get the attention of the Browns front seven. Mark Ingram should get his share of carries, and hopefully continues to make the most of it.
If there’s anyone that is going to set the tone on defense, then I’m going to put my money on Cam. The Saints’ defenders have publicly stated on Twitter that we won’t have another game like the Falcons. Jordan will help lead the charge of the front seven to create the pressure, something that was completely vacant from last week on Matt Ryan. I look for this defense to return to form, and Jordan will have a huge part of that.
Cooks had an outstanding debut for the black and gold. Did you know that Cooks was youngest player (20 years, 347 days old) to score a touchdown since 1997? Cooks finished with 95 total yards on offense, and found the end zone in his very first game. The Browns secondary is considerably better than the Falcons on paper, but nearly allowed three 100-yard receivers last week. Big Ben torched the Browns for 365 yards passing. Drew Brees should follow suit, and Brandin Cooks will have a bulk of targets/yards to follow.
He doesn’t get removed from last week. As we noticed in the game against the Falcons, he didn’t fare so well. Robinson doesn’t exactly have to deal with Roddy White or Julio Jones this week, so we should see better coverage from P-Rob. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for this week. If we don’t, then there’s liable to be a mutiny.
Outside of Jimmy Graham, Brandin Cooks, Pierre Thomas, and Marques Colston, the highest targeted receiver was Joe Morgan (three times). All other Saints’ receiving threats, which weren’t many because of four dressed receivers, finished with one or two targets. Having Stills potentially return to the lineup speaks volumes for the Saints, who had a great deal of success on offense last week. Stills should help spread the field, and even might see the end zone before the day is over.
Who do you think is poised to be an impact player on Sunday? Sound off below!