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Saints Nation: 5 Things to Look For in Saints @ Giants

The Saints will travel to New York to face the Giants on Sunday it what will pin the defending world champions against the 2009 champs. This was supposed to be an amazing late season matchup on paper when the season started, but instead the Saints are 5-7 and the Giants are 7-5, both clinging to playoff hopes. The Saints will likely have to win out, while the Giants can't really afford to lose more than one. Here are the five things I'm looking for coming into this game:

1. Does Drew Brees respond from the worst performance of his career in a positive way?

Brees has had back to back horrible performances, so bad in fact he's almost solely responsible for the losses. Not exactly what the front office had in mind when they committed $100 million to him. I'm very curious to see how he plays in this game. Does the slump continue, sending him to unfathomable depths, or does he respond and lead the Saints to an impressive victory?

2. Can the Saints defense continue to improve?

While still on pace to be the worst defense in history, there is no question the Saints are playing better defense the last two weeks. Perfectly timed, mind you, with Brees playing the worst football of his career. It would be nice to synch up even a pedestrian Brees with the kind of defense they've played lately. But more than anything, I know this defense is going to give up some plays and make mistakes. As long as they keep improving, which they have, it'll give me hope for next year.

3. Can the Saints prevent Victor Cruz from getting behind them?

Cruz' speed is as top end as it gets. He is, without question, the most dangerous component of the Giants' offense. Going to sleep on him for even one play will result in a guaranteed big play touchdown. Can the Saints slow him down, and more importantly, can they give him out of the end zone with a big play reception?

4. Can the Saints play 4 quarters of balanced football?

The last two weeks the 49ers and Falcons both put Brees under a tremendous amount of pressure because of poor blocking on the edges and one dimensional play calling. The Saints can't afford to get one dimensional because rushing the passer is what the Giants' defense does best. They are not a great run stopping team, so the Saints can run the ball if they commit to it. Committing to the run will keep the Giants more honest and will open up play action. The Saints can't afford ot throw in obvious passing sets so often like they have the past two weeks against this team. It will take play calling similar to the first half of the 49ers game for any chance at success. I'd like to see the Saints committed to running the ball for four quarters.

5. Will the Saints contain Justin Tuck/Osi Umenyiora/Jason Pierre-Paul?

The Giants have a scary pass rush, and the three players above are the main reason for it. Jermon Bushrod has only been average this year, and Zach Strief was nowhere near healthy enough to be playing last week. To me this is the clear matchup disadvantage for the Saints: Giants edge rush vs. Saints edge blocking. Can they hold up and give Brees time?

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.

Saints Nation: Scouting the Giants

It is a primetime Monday night game as the Saints welcome in the New York Giants. The Saints are coming off of their bye and it was much needed as it came in at a perfect time. New York on the other hand is coming in with two straight losses after having a lead in the NFC East but now are tied with Dallas. Looking forward to this matchup as it could be a playoff matchup down the road. It is also good to get the Saints back for the fans as it has been a pretty boring week of watching other teams play. I look for the Saints to come out in this game and cement their spot as a contender to make a long playoff run.

Special Teams/Defense
The Special Teams for the Giants are not newsworthy but they get the job done. They have a solid kicker in Lawrence Tynes as well as a former Saint in punter Steve Weatherford. The return team is filled with a bunch of guys who are there just to catch the ball and not do anything to lose the game, I mean would you want to return and do something stupid with Tom Coughlin as your coach? It’s  staple on defense is the defensive line as they will make things difficult for any quarterback in the league. They are quick at the defensive ends and stout in the middle as they rotate throughout the game remaining fresh as the game wears on. The linebacker core will be without one starter in Michael Boley but without him this unit is still a good one. They have put Mathias Kiwanuka at outside linebacker giving them another weapon coming off the end to attack the passing game. The one group that looked promising in the offseason was the secondary as they had some much need depth but at the end of the preseason the Giants had three guys on injury reserve taking a hit in the depth department. It has been a uphill battle but as the season has worn on the Giants’ secondary has played better than expected but it still faces a tough test in stopping the Saints passing attack.

How to take advantage?

The Giants will gear up to stop the passing game as they will deploy pressure on Drew and the offensive line. So it seems to me the way to offset the pressure will be to get rid of the ball quickly and to run at the pressure with the Saints stable of backs as healthy as they have been all season. Looking up and down the roster I don’t really see anybody that can cover Jeremy Graham, maybe Antrel Rolle could do it but that would open up the passing game for other Saints receivers. I just don’t see how the Giants will stop the Saints as the Saints will have an answer for what ever the Giants present especially as the Saints have had a extra week to gameplan for the Giants.

Offense

It is a offense that has a quarterback that can win games but they want to wear teams down with their running game. Eli Manning might not be everybody pick as the quarterback to build a franchise around but he does have a Super Bowl ring on his resume. Eli is a solid quarterback but has often not had the playmakers to be considered an elite quarterback. The running game will be a man short as Ahmad Bradshaw will be out for this game, so they will use a two man team of Brandon Jacobs and D. J. Ware to get the running game on track. It has a good receiving core as they may have found a star in the making in Victor Cruz as he started the year fourth on the depth chart. As injures have mounted up this year he has gotten a lot of looks from Eli making him the top wideout in the Giants offense. The offensive line has been adequate so far as they have not really allowed that many sacks to Eli but heading into this game they will have their fourth different line rotation as injures continue to mount. This is a good unit one that will try get the running game going to help set up the passing game.

How to take advantage?

The last ten passes the Saints faced against the Falcons it seemed like they hit the slot receiver for big gains. It might not have been that extreme but it felt like it as Harry Douglas got big gains against the secondary. Let’s hope the Saints cleaned that up over the break as it could be a problem facing the Giants. I think the way to stop the Giants offense is two ways: first stop the ground game and second put pressure on Eli making it hard for the offense to get going. It will be hard sledding for the Giants offense as the Superdome will be rocking as the fans have waited two weeks for this game.

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.

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