How the New Orleans Saints can beat the New York Giants
By John Hendrix
The New Orleans Saints (3-4) square off with the New York Giants (4-3) for the 28th time in NFL history on Sunday. The last clash found the Saints suffering a brutal 52-27 loss at MetLife Stadium in 2012. However, the black and gold have won 3 out of the last 4 matchups. You might have heard blurbs of the Giants lack of success in New Orleans. That’d be because they haven’t won in the Crescent City since 1993.
In order for the Saints to get back to .500, here are some key areas they must perform well in.
Guarding against Odell Beckham Jr.
My colleague, Andrew Schuster, looked extensively at Delvin Breaux matching up against Odell Beckham Jr. earlier in the week. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
"Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he expects Delvin Breaux to be on Beckham Jr. all day Sunday. It’d be wrong to think otherwise. While Breaux continues to get praise from fans, players and his coaching staff, Saints coach Sean Payton mentioned how OBJ was “one of the most impressive pro days in regards to receiver workouts.”"
Make no mistake about it, Eli Manning will look his way more than a few times. Breaux was tested last week against Andrew Luck, and aside the two slips which led to touchdowns, he held his own against T.Y. Hilton. I expect this to be a back and forth battle between the two, and hopefully Breaux returns to his form that drew rave reviews and praise against Atlanta’s Julio Jones.
NJ.com is not overly optimistic in regards to this game. All of their staff has picked against the G-Men, but perhaps the craziest part of their insight is that they are all picking the Saints to score well over 30 points. Here’s what Jordan Raanan had to say:
"Saints quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton must watch enjoyed watching tape of the Giants defense this week. They can pretty much pick their poison. Should they exploit the Giants linebackers in coverage, target cornerback Jayron Hosley incessantly or simply run the football all afternoon? Ah, the choices."
In theory, it sounds like Drew Brees could have a field day against the Giants. In order to do that, the Saints offensive line will need to keep up their protection of Brees. Speaking of protection, Brees suffered 14 sacks in his first four games. Since then? He’s been downed only 3 times in the past two (Atlanta and Indianapolis). The Giants are the second to last team (31st) in the NFL in defensive sacks with 9 sacks.
Wide receivers Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks should find themselves heavily targeted in this game, and continue to build upon their team leading receiving yardage. If what Raanan says is true in regards to linebacker mismatches, then that bodes well for tight ends Ben Watson, Josh Hill, and Michael Hoomanawanui to find success. Against the Colts, the Saints used multiple tight end sets, and exploited some one on one opportunities (like the Hoomanawanui touchdown) where Cooks and other receivers drew extra safety help to create an appetizing tight end on linebacker mismatch.
Adjust to what’s out of your control
Hau’oli Kikaha and Cam Jordan are the Saints ‘sack masters’ currently, leading the team with a combined 10 sacks out the club’s 16 total. Eli Manning tends to get the ball out quickly, and that’s a direct result as to why opposing defenses only have 9 sacks against the Giants. With that being said, you likely won’t see many opportunities for Jordan and Kikaha to wrap Manning up.
So, Rob Ryan’s defense will need to adjust throughout the game, and may have to do so without linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. While Ellerbe is hopeful to play, the reality is that recently signed and familiar face Jo-Lonn Dunbar could find himself in the mix with veteran Ramon Humber in coverage. Manning will be looking for that.
Eli Manning hasn’t exactly flashed this season, having only one 300-yard game against the San Francisco 49ers (10/11/15). However, Manning hasn’t had many bad games either. Needless to say, any opportunity given to the Saints defense must be taken advantage of.
Bring the noise
This is the first of two straight home contests for the New Orleans Saints. Who Dat Nation knows what’s at stake for this game. It’s a glorious opportunity to get back to .500 and better place themselves into the NFC Wild Card picture. It’s a chance to simply remind the football world not to sleep on the New Orleans Saints.