The New Orleans Saints try to win their 8th game in a row this Sunday when they host the Washington Redskins. Unlike the previous few seasons, these Saints do not necessarily need to rely on the Hall of Fame right arm of quarterback Drew Brees to win football games, but instead are able to beat their opponents in multiple ways.
Let's have a look at how some of the match ups will look when the 2nd overall ranked Saints offense takes on the 20th rated Washington Redskin defense.
Saints pass offense vs. Redskins pass defense
The Saints won their second game this season without getting a touchdown pass from Drew Brees, an unfathomable thought for most of his New Orleans career. The passing game hasn't performed poorly, they are still ranked 5th in the league, the team just hasn't needed such a high level of production to win football games. Brees has completed almost 72% of his passes, for 2,398 yards and 13 touchdowns so far. Perhaps two statistics even more important to the Saints success is the fact that Brees has thrown only 4 interceptions, and has been sacked just 8 times.
The Saints top receiver is second year star Michael Thomas, who has 59 catches for 662 yards and 2 touchdowns. Thomas is limited as a deep threat, but is nearly unstoppable on intermediate and shorter routes because of his sure hands, big body and body control, and his route precision. Rookie running back Alvin Kamara is the second on the team with 43 receptions, and has 373 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns. Kamara's receiving ability allows the Saints to use him move him around the formation as a threat anywhere on the field.
Running back Mark Ingram is a solid check down option for Brees, and his 31 catches are third on the team. The Saints have been one of the most effective screen pass teams in the league since Sean Payton's arrival in 2006, and use their wideouts and tight ends on screens as well as the talents of their running backs.
Wide receiver Ted Ginn is the second most productive player among the Saints wideouts and tight ends, with 29 receptions for 483 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Brandon Coleman has had some big moments as well, with 3 scoring receptions and averaging 18.8 yards per catch for 282 yards. New Orleans has gotten little production from the tight end position in the passing game however, getting only 29 catches for 307 yards combined from Coby Fleener, Josh Hill, and Michael Hoomanawanui.
The Redskins give up around 235 yards passing per game, ranking 18th in the league. One of their best defensive backs, veteran DeAngelo Hall, may miss this game with a knee injury. Washington still has 3 talented cornerbacks in Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, and Kendall Fuller that will match up on Saints receivers Thomas, Ginn, and Coleman. Washington has 10 interceptions on the season, led by 3 from Fuller and 2 from their playmaker at safety, D.J. Swearinger.
Saints tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk will face a stiff challenge against Redskins outside rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who have combined for 10.5 sacks. Kerrigan has had a big year so far, with 6 sacks and an interception return for a touchdown. The two-time Pro Bowler has 64 career sacks, and looks well on his way to another double-digit sack performance.
Saints rushing offense vs. Redskins run defense
New Orleans has the 3rd ranked rushing attack in the NFL, averaging over 142 yards per game. The Saints have pieced together a powerful offensive line that has been able to dominate their opponents, paving the way for a 1-2 punch at running back that has been as productive as any in the league. Seven year veteran Mark Ingram is again the Saints leading rusher, on pace for his best season with 144 carries for 672 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Alvin Kamara, a midseason candidate for offensive rookie of the year, has proven himself to be much more than a 3rd down specialist with 64 carries for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns. The two backs combine for over 5 yards per carry, and average 121 yards rushing per game.
Last week's victory over the Buffalo Bills was a perfect example of how dominant the Saints running game has become. The Bills entered last week's game with the 8th ranked rush defense in the league, surrendering just 94 yards per game on the ground, but the Saints pounded them with 298 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
Washington enters this game with the league's 13th ranked rush defense, surrendering just under 110 yards per game. Defensive end Terrell McClain and nose tackle Ziggy Hood are both good run defenders with a strong base and difficult to move off their spot. They tie up blockers so that middle linebacker Zach Brown, a tackling machine, is free to roam and make plays. Safety D.J. Swearinger is the best run defender out of a solid group of tacklers in the Redskins secondary.
What to Look For
The Redskins defense is coming off of a game where they allowed Case Keenum of the Minnesota Vikings to throw for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. Now they get to face an offense led by Brees, a powerful offensive line, 2 incredibly talented running backs, and a top echelon wide receiver. The New Orleans line will have it's hands full with Kerrigan and Smith, but have absolutely bludgeoned opponents in recent weeks.
Kamara once again looks to be a serious mismatch for a defense, and Ingram and Thomas are on a roll. The Saints are averaging nearly 30 points per game (29.8), while Washington surrenders almost 26 points per contest. New Orleans will likely come out looking to control Redskins with their running game early, but look for Brees to try some deep shots to his receivers, to even further open things up for their underneath passing game.
Which Saints player do you expect the biggest performance from against the Redskins?
This poll is closed
Ted Ginn Jr.