The New Orleans Saints started their 2016 campaign with a dreaded loss at the hands of the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, while the New York Giants won a close one against their NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. These two clubs face off in a Week 2 showdown that could boast a lot of offense, and it’s a game the black and gold desperately need to win.
Here’s the biggest areas to watch as the game unfolds.
Where’s the pass rush?
Cameron Jordan, Paul Kruger, and Kasim Edebali have to get things going for a Saints defense that was only able to manage three quarterback hits on Derek Carr. In fact, Dennis Allen’s squad was one of six units that failed to register a sack in Week 1. The Giants look to employ a lot of no huddle in this game, and the communication will be key for the defense here. Last season’s matchup saw the Saints come away with two sacks in the game, and the general belief is that someone needs to disrupt Eli Manning.
The secondary versus Beckham, Cruz, and Shepard
This may be the biggest area of concern if you’re a Saints fan watching this game. No Delvin Breaux likely means big problems for the Saints secondary that has one veteran (Sterling Moore) and a host of younger, inexperienced players at cornerback with P.J. Williams, De’Vante Harris, and Ken Crawley. It’d be hard to project the recently acquired B.W. Webb being active for this game, but no matter who the Saints use in the secondary, they must be able to grow up quickly and learn from their mistakes in Week 1.
It may not be that big of a deal, but the latest Accuweather for East Rutherford calls for a morning shower (10:00 a.m. hour) and an afternoon thunderstorm (2:00 p.m. hour). While it’s part of the game, this will be something to keep an eye on. Both teams are no stranger to playing in the rain, but it will become increasingly hard for the Saints to play catch up working against the elements if they find themselves down early.
Brandin Cooks against the Giants secondary
Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins made a comment this week on Brandin Cooks that he’s just a ‘fast guy’. Jenkins said, “He's special with deep routes. Intermediate routes he's OK. He's a speedster so we need to limit the things he can do.” That doesn’t seem to be the type of jab you want to take at Cooks, so it’ll be interesting to see how much success the third-year wide out will have.
Was that the real offensive line in Week 1?
The Saints offensive line put together a stellar first week of work against the vaunted Raiders pass rush. This week will be no different, as they have tall tasks in defending against Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul and will also have to create running lanes against Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and Jonathan Hankins. There may be slight concern for left tackle Terron Armstead, who has been limited in practice the past week. However, all signs point to one of the league’s premiere linemen playing. This unit did not surrender a sack to Drew Brees in last year’s contest, and we’d like nothing more than a repeat performance.
A rookie rebound?
Kicker Wil Lutz received a major vote of confidence from head coach Sean Payton when he was brought on, and was highly endorsed despite missing two field goals against the Raiders. While he had the leg for the potential game-winning 61-yard field goal, it hooked and Lutz missed out on an early chance to be a hero. I’m interested to see how the rookie kicker responds after a mixed outing.