It may only be Week 2, but the New Orleans Saints (0-1) desperately need to put together a victory over the New York Giants (1-0) on Sunday. Success isn’t going to come easy, as the team is nearly a five point underdog. In order to escape New York with a win, here’s five players who must deliver.
The Saints couldn’t get a pass rush going against the Oakland Raiders, and it ultimately led to their secondary being victimized. Cameron Jordan had the lone quarterback hit from the Saints front four in Week 1, as Dennis Allen’s defense hit Derek Carr three times on 38 passing attempts.
In a Week 1 loss, the Dallas Cowboys only managed to hit Eli Manning twice, but did manage to pick him off once. This is a crucial week for the Saints to find their pass rush, and Jordan will have a huge hand in doing so. Whether the team has to rotate Jordan on the interior, where five of his ten sacks came last season, or run stunts against the Giants offensive line, Jordan must get it going.
If you play fantasy football, then you probably know that Odell Beckham is probably one of the top wide receivers to start this week. In fact, facing P.J. Williams and the Saints secondary, Beckham is projected by many as the NFL’s top wide receiver to start in fantasy. Williams may not have direct responsibility with Beckham, but we know that the Saints defensive backs are charged with guarding against three extremely talented receivers.
No matter who Williams matches up against, he needs to improve over a Week 1 game where he said he thought his performance was ‘alright’. Overall, Williams said there were a lot of ‘little things’ like technique issues and execution that didn’t help the secondary. Williams must step up and become a leader without Delvin Breaux in the mix.
The Saints must attempt to establish the run against the Giants, and that’s not going to be an easy task. As much praise as the Dallas Cowboys offensive line receives, they only managed 101 total rushing yards on 30 attempts. Mark Ingram averaged 4.8 yards per carry on his 12 rushes for 58 yards last week, and added 29 receiving yards on two receptions.
It’s going to be a tall order running against Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and Jonathan Hankins. However, they can’t totally abandon the run and need to give Ingram a chance to help the Saints win the time of possession battle. Look for jumbo packages with an extra offensive line to help Ingram find some daylight.
He seems like a no-brainer to have on this list, but with the uncertainty the Saints defense has right now, Drew Brees may literally have to attempt to win this game by putting in another strong performance. Brees has a career record of 5-1 against the Giants (4-1 with the Saints), with the lone loss coming in a forgettable 52-27 route in 2012.
The Saints offensive line surprisingly held its own against a Raiders pass rush that was feared to rip the team to shreds, and they’ll have to have a repeat performance facing Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul (who says he’ll play despite being on the injury report and held out of practice). Can we be greedy and ask for a repeat so that Brees can keep the chemistry going with the BMW trio?
Clearly, Coby Fleener didn’t have the type of debut that anyone expected. Here’s his shot at redemption. One thing that Steve Spagnulo’s defense didn’t do particularly well last week was guard the tight end. Rookie Dak Prescott ended up targeting Jason Witten 14 times in their Week 1 matchup, and they connected for 9 receptions for 66 yards. While it doesn’t leap off the stat sheet, the fact is that Fleener can keep some drives going for the Saints.