Saints Face Giant Task In New Orleans As Unbeatens Prepare For Battle
In what is surely the game of the week in the NFL, the team from the Big Easy looks to complete its sweep of teams representing the Big Apple.
The Giants hold a 14-10 all-time series edge but the Saints have won two of the past three games against New York.
The Saints won a 2003 matchup in the Superdome 45-7. This game is best known for then-Saints receiver Joe Horn's cell phone celebration.
Horn, who would set a team record with four receiving touchdowns in a game, pulled out a cell phone planted in the padding of the goal posts while celebrating a touchdown that put the Saints up 17-7.
Two years later, the Saints would travel to the Meadowlands to face the Giants in a "home" game. Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans just weeks before and no definitive plans had been set for Saints home games.
New Orleans lost 27-10.
In 2006, the Saints won 30-7 in their most recent trip to Giants Stadium.
The Saints will win the game if they...
1) Start fast.
The Saints are 0-3 under Sean Payton in games played immediately after the bye week. It seems that the Saints' passing game, which depends so much on timing and accuracy, takes a while to shake the rust off when returning from a bye.
Here are some notes from the three most recent games the Saints have played after a bye.
2006: Baltimore 35, New Orleans 22 (home). Saints enter game at 5-1.
- Saints fell behind 21-0; trailed 28-7 at half.
- Offensive line played terrible.
- Brees threw three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns.
2007: Carolina 16, New Orleans 13 (home). Saints enter game 0-3.
- Saints had lost each of the past three games by at least 17 points.
- Saints were tied 6-6 at half.
- Brees threw two interceptions.
- This was the beginning of "CUT OLINDO MARE NOW!!!"
Mare missed two field goals in the game. He had a 20-yarder BLOCKED and also missed a 54-yarder with 2:12 left in the game.
Mare was acquired from the Miami Dolphins for a sixth round pick for his "strong leg." The Saints cut John Carney in favor of Mare.
Both Giants and Saints fans see the irony in this.
Carney replaced injured Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes last season and made the Pro Bowl. Now he's a member of the Saints (at least for now) after rookie Garrett Hartley test positive for Adderall.
Mare, by the way, is missing crucial field goals for the Seattle Seahawks.
2008: Atlanta 34, New Orleans 20 (away). Saints enter 4-4 after returning from London.
- Saints trailed 17-6 at half.
- Brees threw three interceptions.
Do you notice a trend?
The Saints start very slowly. Brees has one of his worst games of the season.
It didn't matter if the Saints were a good team (5-1), an average team (4-4), or a really bad team (0-3). They lost ugly.
2) Neutralize the Giants' front four.
New York has 14 sacks in five games. They are led by defensive ends Justin Tuck (four) and Osi Umenyiora (three).
Brees is actually statistically worse when rushed by only four defenders instead of being blitzed.
If the Giants can get pressure with four linemen, they will drop seven in coverage and make it difficult for Brees and his receivers.
3) Slow down the Giants' running game.
The Saints rank seventh in the league in rushing yards allowed, but they haven't faced the likes of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmed Bradshaw.
The duo has combined for 730 yards at 4.6 yards a carry.
Credit must also go to a physical offensive line that's led by guard Chris Snee.
The running game has helped the Giants enjoy an almost 13-minute advantage in time of possession per game.
The best way to slow down Drew Brees is to keep him off the field.
Three matchups to keep an eye on...
1) Jermon Bushrod/Zach Strief and Jonathan Stinchcomb vs. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka.
I expect the Saints to use a running back to help chip these ferocious defensive ends, especially on the left side. Also look for tight ends Jeremy Shockey and David Thomas to stay in to block on third and long.
2) Darren Sharper vs. Eli Manning.
Sharper has a league-high five interceptions while returning two for touchdowns. However, Manning will be by far the most experienced and decorated (and richest) quarterback Sharper's faced all season.
3) Pierre Thomas vs. Antonio Pierce.
Pierce is the leader at linebacker for the Giants and leads the team in tackles. The Saints will be looking to establish the run game early as the offense looks to find their rhythm after a week off.
Thomas will get the bulk of the carries and has a deceptive ability to break tackles.
Roman Harper will lead the team with 11 tackles.
Marques Colston will finish with seven catches, 121 yards, and two touchdowns. Most of his production will come in the second half.
Drew Brees will throw for 338 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions.
New Orleans will trail for the first time this season and fall behind 21-6 at half time because of a slow offensive start and poor field position.
New York 31, New Orleans 27
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