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

Saints need to crank up their pass rush

  1. Again, New Orleans' pass rush and coverage is in the spotlight. After consecutive games against the Giants and Titans in which Eli Manningand Marcus Mariotacombined to throw for 721 yards and 10 touchdowns passes, with no interceptions, it could be another long day against Washington's Kirk Cousins. Cousins is the least-sacked quarterback in the league (nine times), so the Saints need everything they can get from a pass rush led by defensive end Cam Jordan(six sacks) and a secondary highlighted by cornerback Delvin Breaux. New Orleans has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65.6 percent of their passes for 2,757 yards and 24 touchdowns, with four interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 112. None of those are acceptable numbers and if Cousins has the time that was allowed Manning and Mariota, it will be difficult for the Saints to win at FedExField.
  1. The Redskins don't run the ball well (91.3 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry) and so far, haven't had a breakout running game. The Saints are slippery in that category, too (they allow 122.6 rushing yards per game, and 4.7 yards per carry) but they have to make Washington one-dimensional and keep it a pass-heavy team. That resulted in a shootout victory against the Giants and the Saints don't want weekly scoring fests, but Washington scores just 20 points per game and has shown an ability to be contained.

3. Drew Breesgot whacked around pretty good last week by the Titans, who sacked him four times, took two roughing the passer penalties and hit him several more times on pass attempts. The Saints can't have their quarterback taking that kind of beating and expect him to be effective (or standing for much longer). Protection busts have to be corrected and hopefully, Brees can get more time to function against Washington, which enters with 13 sacks and allows 7.74 yards per attempt.

  1. Saints rookie returner Marcus Murphyhas had a rough go of it the last two games. He fumbled a punt return against the Giants and was bailed out when it was recovered by Willie Snead, then fumbled a punt return against the Titans and wasn't as fortunate because Tennessee recovered. Washington may provide an opportunity to pop one, though – the Redskins have allowed a 13.1-yard average on 14 punt returns. Murphy could be critical if he and the return team can flip the field position once or twice against Washington.
  1. This would be a good game for New Orleans' running game to get back in gear. Washington allows 132.5 rushing yards per game, fourth-most in the league, and 4.8 yards per carry. The Saints hoped to run it well against Tennessee, and Mark Ingramwas held in check. The numbers say there's no reason they shouldn't be able to run it against Washington, and that Ingram could be poised for a big day.
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