4 Reasons NY Giants Will Add to the New Orleans Saints' Dismal Season
After an up-and-down but mostly down first 13 weeks of the season, the New Orleans Saints will finally have it mercifully end at MetLife Stadium.
After struggling through a miserable 0-4 start, the Saints lent hope to their fans by winning four of their next five games, but issues that have plagued them all season finally caught up in the past two weeks.
In what has been a roller-coaster season after the controversial BountyGate involving Gregg Williams and Sean Payton, the Saints have not been the same. They've played poorly on defense all year and even their vaunted offense has struggled at times.
Meanwhile the Giants are also going through a rough patch in which Eli Manning has not played well. After their Monday night loss to Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, the Giants are only one game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys and 'Skins in the NFC East.
The Giants will keep pace this weekend while ending any realistic chance the Saints have to get back to the playoffs.
In typical Giants fashion, their play as a team has been up and down all season long, including their fearsome pass rush.
They ranked 27th in adjusted sack rate, getting to the quarterback only 5.1 percent of the time. However, in games against Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo, they have been able to sack them four times in each game.
The potential is there but has been lacking the past few weeks.
The Giants play much better with their proverbial "backs against the wall," so look for them to get to a slumping Drew Brees and cause many offensive line breakdowns on the Saints' part.
Remember, the 49ers got to Brees five times—and that was in New Orleans.
Eli's Aerial Attack
Manning has especially played better in the past two weeks, throwing for 529 yards and four touchdowns while averaging about 8.4 yards per throw. His season average was 7.42.
It appears that Hakeem Nicks is getting healthier by the week, owning double-digit targets the past three games after fighting through an early-season knee injury.
With Eli getting his main weapons in Nicks, Victor Cruz, Martellus Bennett and Rueben Randle all healthy and together, he has a chance to shred one of the worst pass defenses in all of football.
The Saints own the 28th-ranked pass defense in football, according to Football Outsiders. They allow a whopping 286.7 passing yards per game because they routinely blow assignments and miss tackles.
It makes sense that teams are allowing more yards through the air as the league has become more passer-friendly. Teams with great quarterbacks are pushing the tempo, but ranking near the bottom is truly egregious, especially for a team coming off a playoff season.
The Saints weren't much better in 2011, however, owning the 26th-ranked pass defense.
A reason they have failed to stop the pass is because they can't get to the quarterback. They have sacked the opponent's quarterback 25 times this season, good for only 20th in the league.
Eli will have plenty of time to pick which open receivers to throw to. Safe to say you can start all your Giants in fantasy this weekend.
Improving Run Game
The Giants run game didn't start well to open the season with their explosive rookie David Wilson fumbling and apparently crying in the first game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Since then, they have stumbled around finding themselves in the middle of the pack, rushing for 114.8 yards per game, good for 15th in the league.
With the usual day-to-day injuries of Ahmad Bradshaw and the season-ending injury to rising Andre Brown, they seemed to be in deeper trouble.
However, in the past few games, Bradshaw has been running like his job is on the line. He has run for 208 yards in the past three games—also has 88 receiving yards in that span—and averaged well over five yards a pop in two of those games.
Now he gets to face, surprise!, another poor aspect of the Saints defense: their ability to stop the run.
Again, start all your Giants in fantasy this weekend.
After the Monday night loss to the Washington Redskins, some fans are ready to proclaim the changing of the guard in the NFC East.
Not so fast. We've seen it all before. The Giants lose a couple stinkers during the season and everybody is ready to question Eli's "eliteness" (whatever that means), and the coaching job Tom Coughlin has done.
Then they go out and not only ruin an undefeated season by Tom Brady, but beat him again four years later. When the Giants are pressured, there seems to be no way to stop them.
It should be the same story this weekend at home against the Saints.
With only a one-game lead over the Redskins and Cowboys, Eli and company are under a lot of pressure to deliver another NFC East title to New York.
I wouldn't bet against Eli.