Coming off a crushing home-loss to the Oakland Raiders, the New Orleans Saints (0-1) will try to win their first road-game of the 2016 season in the Meadowlands against the New York Giants (1-0). Easier said than done. Last time these two teams played, the Saints won a 52-49 shootout in the Superdome. Since then, the Giants have improved their defense with the addition of veteran players like cornerback Janoris Jenkins and pass rusher Olivier Vernon. On the other hand, the Saints are putting ads in the New Orleans Times Picayune that read: "Looking for any able-bodied cornerback, please call 1-800-NOSAINTS." (Ok not really, but kinda).
But who exactly are the 2016 New York Giants and do the Saints have a shot? Ed Valentine of SB Nation’s Big Blue View gives us an inside perspective of the 2016 G-men and on Sunday's contest.
Canal Street Chronicles: Last Sunday, the Giants held Cowboys' star wide receiver Dez Bryant to one measly reception for eight yards. Was this a reflection of a rookie quarterback throwing to Bryant or was it really cornerback Janoris Jenkins shutting Dez down?
Ed Valentine: Jenkins played well and got a lot of credit from coach Ben McAdoo. He didn't do it alone, however. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made two excellent plays vs. Bryant, and safety Landon Collins also made one. It was really a team effort from a vastly improved Giant secondary.
CSC: Speaking of defensive coverage, how do expect New York's secondary to line up/play against Drew Brees and a Saints' offense that has exploited this matchup over the years?
Ed: As I said above, I think this group is vastly improved. Janoris Jenkins is better than Prince Amukamara. Eli Apple, Leon Hall and Trevin Wade are all better than Jayron Hosley, who started last year's game vs. NO and is no longer in the league. The safety play, with an improved Collins, rookie Darian Thompson and hard-hitting Nat Berhe, is much better. I don't know how they will align, but I have confidence no matter what.
CSC: Like the rest of the NFL world, we're in awe of the play of Odell Beckham Jr., especially here in LSU country. But with Victor Cruz back healthy and the Giants drafting Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma, has Beckham's role changed at all in new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan's offense?
Ed: First of all, let me clarify that it isn't Mike Sullivan's offense. This remains Ben McAdoo's offense. He spent two years as offensive coordinator installing it, and still calls the plays. As for Beckham, his role hasn't changed. He simply has more help, which makes the offense scary good if they can get people blocked.
CSC: The Giants have gone 19-29 the past three seasons. What are reasonable (as reasonable as New York can be) expectations for this team in the first year of head coach Ben McAdoo?
Ed: I don't know if they will, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to believe the Giants can make a strong run at the NFC East title. The Eagles aren't winning it. The Redskins won it last year, but I'm still not sold on Kirk Cousins, or their roster as a whole. The Cowboys are once again without Tony Romo. Yes, Dak Prescott is better than what they had but he is still a rookie. They also have so many guys suspended right now that their defense is a mess.
CSC: Giants-Saints games of recent years have been high scoring affairs, like the 52-49 shootout in the Superdome last season. What kind of game do you expect to see this Sunday? Who wins?
Ed: This will probably be high-scoring, but not like last year. I would guess more in the 30s than the 40s or 50s. I think the Giants have improved enough on defense to win this game.
Our thanks to Ed Valentine for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out the outstanding work of the folks at Big Blue View for more coverage of Saints-Giants.