The New Orleans Saints are still looking for their first win of the 2016 season as Louisiana natives Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. lead the New York Giants into a Week 2 matchup that becomes a must-win for the Saints. After a fourth quarter meltdown by the defense, Drew Brees and company will be looking to outscore another potent offense that boasts three quality receivers.
The keys to this week’s game will be the same as it has been for Sean Payton and the Saints since he arrived in 2006: score early, score often and don’t completely blow it on defense. How do the Saints accomplish this? Let’s find out.
After much debate and fear going into the season about how the offensive line will hold up against elite pass rushers, the unit performed admirably against an emerging elite pass rusher in Khalil Mack. The Giants do not boast as elite of a pass rusher as the Raiders did, but they do have a defensive backfield that can provide time for rusher to get to the quarterback. Newly minted play caller Pete Carmichael Jr. will need to draw up some quick slants to pull the safeties in and wait to take his shots much later in the game.
Mark Ingram is going to have to be a key component to the offense this week in order to win the time of possession category. Being relied upon to pick up third and short and even one or two fourth down conversions will be key to keeping the Saints defense off the field and having the opportunity to score enough points to keep this game close.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Saints defense will be required to pickup turnovers against Manning and the Giants to get off the field and provide an elite Saints offense with an extra possession or two. In the game against Oakland, the defense came close to intercepting Derek Carr on a couple of occasions, which would have provided a spark for the team and almost definitely given the Saints a win in Week 1 of the NFL season.
This week, the defense will have to be more opportunistic in the turnover department. Last week Eli Manning threw one interception and also fumbled the ball although the Giants were able to recover and retain possession. New Orleans defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will need to bring an extra defender on a blitz almost every play in order to entice Manning into making some bad decisions throwing the ball.
While on the subject of blitzing the quarterback, the defense will be required to get to the quarterback this week, or else there is no chance of keeping pace with Giants offense. With multiple weapons on the offensive side for Manning to utilize and pick apart this young Saints defense, giving the quarterback any extra time will be devastating. If the Saints defensive front can not consistently pressure Manning, then get ready for a long day Saints fans.
Just don’t be terrible. This is a good key for the defense as well, but is better suited for the special teams unit this week. While punter Thomas Morstead will help in winning the field position battle, rookie kicker Wil Lutz will be called upon to forget his two misses against Oakland and possibly win this game for the Saints. The 2015 matchup between these two teams has been lauded for its offensive explosion, but it was a last second game-winning field goal that was the difference in that game. Once again we could see the team who possesses the ball last in a position to kick a field goal to win the game. Lutz is going to have to grow up fast and disregard last week’s 61-yard wide left miss in the final seconds.
The Bottom Line and Reality
Don’t expect this one to be close Saints fans. The 2016 defense may be even worse than the 2015 version and that is just downright disgusting. The only reason they are not the worst statistical defense in the NFL is because Oakland had to face a Saints offense absolutely loaded with talent. The defense won’t be so lucky this week and the Saints score 34 points in garbage time. This one could be over midway through the second quarter.
Final score prediction: Giants 52, Saints 34