The New Orleans Saints accomplished the goal of going 1-0 last week. Doing so again this week, against the Giants (5-8) in the Caesars Superdome, figures to be a bit more challenging for the Saints (6-7).
But, it's doable. And here are a few ways it can be done:
1. STAY RED HOT: Whatever it is that the Saints have emphasized lately when it comes to red zone effectiveness, has been on point. New Orleans has scored seven touchdowns in its last eight red zone trips, including two receiving touchdowns by tight end Jimmy Graham and three rushing touchdowns by running back Alvin Kamara. Having Taysom Hill back from injury should help, but what really has stood out is that penalties have been minimized in the red zone and that has allowed the offense to stay in workable situations. Mainly, credit the offensive line for the cleanup and for the physicality that has been flexed.
2. REV UP: Quarterback Derek Carr wasn't on the injury report this week, and that's a good thing. Carr has been battered this season and has failed to finish three games, and he obviously was diminished last game while completing 18 of 26 for 119 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception. He'll have to be better against the Giants, and maybe that chance will be presented – the Giants allow 226 passing yards per game and despite a proclivity to blitz, have totaled 23 sacks. Exactly half of those (11.5) have come from outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, so he may warrant extra attention on the edge. But the Saints may be able to take a few more downfield shots if the blitz can be reasonably contained.
3. DISRUPT THE FAIRYTALE: Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito is a fantastic story – a homegrown product (from New Jersey) who was undrafted and has helped the Giants win three straight games by completing 83 of 126 passes for 855 yards and eight touchdowns, with three interceptions as a starter, and 52 of 72 for 595 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, in the last three (plus 16 carries for 84 rushing yards). The last thing the Saints defense needs to see is another quarterback that can move, but DeVito can and it'll be imperative to collapse the pocket around him. New Orleans only has 23 sacks and defensive end Carl Granderson (6.5) and linebacker Demario Davis (5.5) have combined for more than half of them. New Orleans needs to contain DeVito’s mobility (he ran for 71 yards on 10 carries in the last game), and that's something that the Saints haven't done well this season.
4. THE SAQUON FACTOR: What makes DeVito more troublesome is the presence of running back Saquon Barkley (185 carries for 783 yards and three touchdowns rushing, plus 31 catches for 183 yards and four touchdowns, in 10 games). Barkley still is a game-breaker and the attention he draws relieves the pressure on DeVito. Add in the fact that the Saints have allowed eight consecutive opponents to rush for at least 113 yards – five of them have run for at least 142 – and it's logical to be concerned about Barkley and DeVito as runners. If New Orleans takes an early lead, that could get New York away from its run game.
5. POP ONE: The fact that the Saints caused a fumble on a punt attempt last game – Nephi Sewellwas so fast on the punt rush that he got to the ball before the punter's foot connected – should have the Giants on alert. If there's going to be max protection, perhaps that'll open up some space for Rashid Shaheedon a punt return. Shaheed should be back after getting past his quad injury, and he could flip field position for New Orleans with a decent return or two.
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