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John DeShazier: Key ingredients to a Saints victory presented by Domino's

Saints play at Indianapolis on Sunday at noon

  1. Turnovers aren't a sexy topic, but it is as meaningful a topic as there is in football. Consider this: Since 2006, the New Orleans Saints are 34-1 when they don't commit a turnover. In very next game, the Saints have committed an average of 1.6 turnovers and have a 15-19 record to show for it. Of course, they aren't trying to turn it over in the following game and protecting the football isn't as simple as wishing it so (opposing defenses get paid to make stops and force turnovers, as much as offensive players get paid to hold on to the ball and to score). But among the directives with which the Saints will enter Sunday's game against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, holding on to the football tops the to-do list. If they accomplish it, they'll give themselves a good chance.
  1. Protecting Drew Breesis another way for the Saints to give themselves a chance. Brees has been sacked 15 times (too many), but he only was sacked once against Atlanta. The Colts haven't been especially formidable when it comes to the pass rush – they only have eight sacks this season. If the Saints can prevent them from having a breakout game at home (having left tackle Terron Armsteadback in the lineup, after missing two games, should help, along with the return of left guard Tim Lelito), and Brees has time to scan, the Saints offense should produce some good numbers.
  1. The Saints are running for 84.7 yards per game. It's no revelation that that's not enough. They were able to run it enough times against Atlanta (32) to wear down the Falcons defensively, but they weren't especially productive (81 yards) in running it. Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinsonand C.J. Spiller– the three primary ball carriers – each averages less than 4 yards per carry this season, and each averages at least 4.1 yards per carry in his career. New Orleans needs to get it going in the other direction, and the Colts, who allow 112.7 rushing yards per game and 4 yards per attempt, may be the right opponent to do it against.
  1. The Saints want to run it well, and they want to stop the run. Unfortunately, they haven't stopped it well, either – they allow 138.2 rushing yards per game, third-most in the league. The solace is that the Colts run for 96.7 yards per game, but Indianapolis may change its mode of offensive transportation in order to take advantage of the Saints' weakness against the run. Atlanta's 150 rushing yards wasn't as painful as it appears because the Saints played from ahead the entire game. Playing from ahead against the Colts will be preferable, too.
  1. Colts quarterback Andrew Luckhas struggled this season. Can the Saints keep it that way? Luck has thrown seven interceptions, has been sacked eight times and is completing just 57.2 percent of his passes. New Orleans is coming off its best pass-rush game of the season (five sacks of Atlanta's Matt Ryan, including three by defensive end Cam Jordan). If the Saints can get to Luck the same way Indy's other opponents have been able to get to Luck, New Orleans may be able to induce a turnover or two (it forced three turnovers against Atlanta).
  1. All eyes will be on new Saints kicker Kai Forbath, a career 87 percent kicker (60 for 69 on field-goal attempts) who replaced Zach Hocker. Forbath's career long is from 50 yards; the Saints (obviously) would prefer that he's kicking successful PATs. He won't have to worry about kicking off, though, since punter Thomas Morsteadis back from injury to handle those duties.
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