New York Giants: Players Who Can Secure Upset Against New Orleans Saints

Michael WillhoftContributor IIINovember 27, 2011

New York Giants: Players Who Can Secure Upset Against New Orleans Saints

0 of 5

    The New York Giants have a tough assignment this week on Monday Night Football; playing against the New Orleans Saints on the road is never an easy task.

    But despite the relatively large 7.5-point spread, the G-Men do have the players to pull off the unlikely upset.

    Sure, the Giants have gone from being called serious contenders—after their come-from-behind road win against New England—to nothing more than pretenders—after consecutive losses to San Francisco and Philadelphia—but don’t count them out of the playoff race just yet.

    A win in the Superdome on national television against one of the NFL’s most powerful offenses would do wonders for the reputation of the New York Giants.

    But if Big Blue is going to beat the Saints, these players will need to step up in a big way on Monday night…

Brandon Jacobs

1 of 5

    The key to this game will be the New York Giants’ ability to take the ball out of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’s hands. And if the Giants are going to keep Brees on the sideline, they’ll need a successful running game to do so.

    Enter 6-foot-4, 264-pound running back Brandon Jacobs.

    Without running back Ahmad Bradshaw at full strength—or even in the lineup—on Monday night, Jacobs will likely see the majority of the carries. If he can get the ground game on track early, the Giants will have a much better chance at slowing down the high-powered Saints offense.

    The G-Men need Jacobs to be the runner he was in 2008—if only for 60 minutes on Monday night—when he rushed for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns in 13 games.

    The Giants know what the Saints are capable of when their offense is clicking; Jacobs will need to ensure that the Saints' offensive players see less of the field and more of him pounding the ball on their defense.

Victor Cruz

2 of 5

    New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has emerged as quarterback Eli Manning’s go-to option in the passing game; Cruz will need to live up to that hype on Monday if the G-Men are going to beat the New Orleans Saints.

    Cruz’s performance last week against the Philadelphia Eagles was an indication of the type of numbers he’s capable of putting up: six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown.

    Unfortunately for the Giants, even a stellar performance like that one by Cruz wasn’t enough to win the game for them.

    As unreasonable as it is, Cruz will have to be even better on Monday night in New Orleans.

    Eli Manning will likely face a number of different blitzes from the Saints' defense; when the blitzes come, Cruz will have to work in tandem with Manning to exploit the open part of the field.

    Cruz will have to make the most of his opportunities against man coverage in order to lead the G-Men to an upset of the Saints.

Jake Ballard

3 of 5

    Against a blitz-happy New Orleans Saints defense, New York Giants tight end Jake Ballard will be the key to neutralizing extra pass rushers.

    Whether Ballard mitigates the Saints' blitzes by staying in to block or by running seam routes—thereby forcing New Orleans to cover him as a receiving threat—he’ll be able to positively impact the game for New York.

    A few receptions over the middle will force Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to think twice before sending a linebacker on a blitz if he knows Ballard will be open.

    Giants quarterback Eli Manning has already shown a willingness to look for Ballard in big spots; it’s safe to assume that Manning will know where his security blanket is at all times, especially when the Saints are blitzing.

    If Ballard is putting up yards on the Saints' defense on Monday night, the G-Men will be in good position to hang tough and possibly pull off the upset.

Mark Herzlich

4 of 5

    New York Giants rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich has been pressed into service earlier than anyone expected, thanks to injuries in the Giants' lineback corps.

    After getting his first start last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Herzlich will likely get the call again on Monday night in an even bigger game. And a big start from Herzlich is a must if the Giants want to have any hope of keeping things close with the New Orleans Saints.

    Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has been on a tear this season, racking up 873 receiving yards and six touchdowns; most of those numbers have come at the expense of opposing linebackers.

    Needless to say, Herzlich will be tested early and often on Monday night.

    Herzlich’s tackling ability is unquestioned, but his pass coverage skills are somewhat lacking. If he can prove that he’s able to cover Graham reasonably well, that will give the Giants more freedom on defense to go after Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

    Herzlich will need to play solid coverage in the game against the Saints; if he does, a Giants win won't be out of the question.

Jason Pierre-Paul

5 of 5

    New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is having a great season so far: 44 tackles (33 solo), 10.5 sacks and one forced fumble through Week 11.

    Not exactly hard-hitting NFL analysis.

    Regarding Pierre-Paul’s impact on Monday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints, however, the second-year defensive end will need to be the Giants’ biggest contributor on defense.

    More specifically, if the Giants want to upset the Saints they’ll need to make quarterback Drew Brees uncomfortable in the pocket. Pierre-Paul needs to make that happen.

    On passing downs—which might be first and second in addition to third down for New Orleans—Pierre-Paul will need to beat his blocker and get to Brees. Even if Pierre-Paul doesn’t record a single sack in the game, he can help the Giants by getting Brees off balance and forcing him to rush throws.

    If Pierre-Paul does his job well, Brees likely won’t be able to lead his team down the field at will. And if the Saints' offense isn’t playing its typical shootout style of game, the Giants will have an excellent shot at winning on Monday night.