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New Orleans Saints key ingredients to victory against Dallas Cowboys | NFL Week 13

Quarterback Taysom Hill looks to spark Saints offense

The New Orleans Saints take on the Buffalo Bills at the Caesars Superdome in Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season.
The New Orleans Saints take on the Buffalo Bills at the Caesars Superdome in Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season.

New Orleans and Dallas, two teams that are tumbling, will meet Thursday night in the Caesars Superdome.

The Saints (5-6) have lost four straight and the Cowboys (7-4) have lost three of four. One will right itself, at least for one game. Here are a few ways in which it can be the Saints.

1. GET A LEAD: New Orleans hasn't scored in the first quarter of its last four games. No one expects this team to be a 27-points-per-game offensive unit, but it absolutely cannot be a 20-point-comeback unit, either. To that end, New Orleans will turn to quarterback Taysom Hill to see if he can inject some juice. Hill has been the emergency quarterback the previous two games, and didn't take a snap even though the Saints struggled against Philadelphia and Buffalo. That probably says all we need to know about the severity of his foot injury. If he now is healthy enough to do the things he normally does, that will add another needed dimension to the Saints' running game. He'll need to be mobile because Dallas' pass rush, which has been led by rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, will take a jump forward if defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is on the field Thursday, as expected. Running quarterbacks can give fits to defenses.

2. THE BOYS ARE BACK: And speaking of the running game, New Orleans has been without Alvin Kamara for the last three games, and was minus Mark Ingram II against Buffalo. It ran for 44 yards on 25 carries against the Bills. Kamara is listed as questionable, but Ingram and Ty Montgomery hopefully will be enough to assure that doesn't happen again. If Dallas loads up to stop the run, Hill and his receivers are going to have to take advantage. Ingram could factor heavily in the passing game, too.

3. MATCH THE WORDS: Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan couldn't have expressed the sentiment any better than he did: The Saints defense has to be what it says it is. Allowing 355 combined rushing yards to Philadelphia and Buffalo is a far cry from what the Saints have been as a run defense, and if they can't take away the run from Dallas, it's going to be another long evening. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott won't offer much zone read pressure, but slowing down running backs Zeke Elliott (720 rushing yards and eight touchdowns) and Tony Pollard (531 rushing yards and a touchdown, and 256 receiving yards) is a big enough challenge as it is. Tackling overall has to be better, but it especially has to be improved against the run.

4. AIR RAID: Dallas is going to throw the ball. Prescott has two high-level receivers in CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, and they'll test the Saints' secondary. In the past, this kind of matchup has brought out the best in New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who had a standout game covering Cooper a few seasons ago. He'll need to bring that, and more, into this game, as will fellow cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Paulson Adebo. Cooper's participation is iffy, but whether or not he plays, the secondary has to be better than it was against Buffalo.



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