The New Orleans Saints (2-1) meet the New York Giants (1-2) this afternoon in the 30th meeting between these two NFC franchises. The Giants hold a 16-13 edge in the series, including a 12-4 advantage when the games are played in New York, site of today's contest. Their first meeting against each other was in the Saints inaugural season of 1967. It was the fourth game of the season, and the Saints were playing their first road game in franchise history, on October 8, 1967 in Yankee Stadium. Despite New York rolling up 535 yards of total offense against just 210 for the Saints, the Giants needed a fourth quarter touchdown to edge the fledgling New Orleans franchise 27-21. Their next meeting, also in New York, would be a year later nearly to the day, October 6, 1968. The score wasn't nearly as close this time, as the Giants took advantage of four New Orleans turnovers on their way to a 38-21 win. The Saints would get their first victory over the Giants that following season, again on the road, on November 16, 1969. In a back and forth affair that saw the teams combine for 30 second quarter points, the Saints emerged victorious 25-24, on a 4th quarter field goal by kicker Tom Dempsey. The first time that the Saints hosted the Giants in New Orleans (Tulane Stadium) was the third game of the 1970 season, a 14-10 Saints victory.
Neither the Giants or the Saints were very successful through the 1970's and into the early '80's, but New Orleans did manage a 3-2 record against New York though the disco decade. By the mid-1980's, both teams had built themselves into a perennial playoff contender in the very strong NFC, powered by strong running games and intimidating defenses. The fortunes of both franchises turned around during the 1981 draft by adding a future Hall of Fame linebacker. The Giants by selecting Lawrence Taylor with the second overall pick (one behind the Saints selection of running back George Rogers), and New Orleans drafting of Rickey Jackson with the 51st overall selection. Both teams would build linebacking corps around their iconic superstars that were considered by many to be among the top linebacker units in the history of the league. The Saints and Giants met seven times during Taylor's and Jackson's tenures, 1981-93, with the respective teams that drafted them. With other defensive stars roaming the field like Carl Banks, Harry Carson, Pepper Johnson, Leonard Marshall of the Giants, and Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, and Wayne Martin of the Saints, points were often hard to come by. New Orleans was only 2-5 against New York in those games, but the average score was just 16-14, and the contests were fierce and physical wars.
Two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning is a native of New Orleans and of course the son of Archie Manning, quarterback of the Saints from 1971-82. Eli's first start against his father's former team was on September 19, 2005. The game was played in New York, but the Saints were considered the home team, because the site of the game had to be moved because of the devastation caused to the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina. The Saints outgained the Giants that day, 422-257, but 3 interceptions by quarterback Aaron Brooks proved to be their undoing, as they fell to defeat, 27-10. Tragedy had intertwined these teams nearly four years earlier as well. New Orleans would visit the Giants on September 30, 2001, in what was New York's first home game since the 9/11 terrorist attack on the city. In another contest where football certainly took a backseat to life events, the Giants would edge New Orleans that day by a 21-13 score.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 4-2 against the Giants since joining New Orleans in 2006, scoring over 40 points in three of those meetings. Brees and Manning have engaged in some memorable aerial duals during their showdowns, including one of the most exciting offensive shootouts in recent history. On November 1, 2015, the two teams combined for 63 first downs, 1,024 total yards, and 101 points during a 52-49 last second Saints victory. Manning completed 77% of his passes for 350 yards and six touchdowns during the game. Not to be outdone, Brees outdueled his counterpart by completing 78% for an eye-popping 505 yards and an NFL-record seven touchdown passes. The last meeting between these two took place during the second game of the 2016 season in New York. The kicking game would make the difference in this matchup between two of the conference's top quarterbacks. Early in the game, Saints kicker Wil Lutz had a short field goal blocked, which New York defensive back Janoris Jenkins returned for a touchdown. In a defensive struggle, the Giants converted a short kick of their own to pull off a 16-13 victory.
Despite lofty statistics, Brees' teams have often struggled to put points on the board when they travel to The Big Apple, whether it's to play either the Giants or the Jets. New Orleans is just 1-2 as the visiting team against the Giants during Brees' tenure, and have averaged just 23 points in those games while being prone to some costly turnovers. They come into this game averaging nearly 35 points per game, with Brees averaging 359 yards passing per game and throwing 8 touchdown passes with no turnovers. He benefits from having two of the best offensive weapons in the game with wideout Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara. The New Orleans offense is still without suspended Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram however, and has struggled to consistently run the ball. New York will be missing a few key defenders for this one, sidelined by injury, but still have defensive playmakers such as Jenkins, Landon Collins, and Alec Ogletree. Defensively, the Saints have played well against the run but have been getting bombarded against the pass after such improvements in that area last season. Eli Manning has two very talented receivers in Sterling Shepard and former L.S.U. star Odell Beckham Jr., as well as dangerous rookie running back Saquon Barkley, but the Giants have struggled mightily along the offensive line. Cam Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, and rookie Marcus Davenport have the ability to heavily pressure Manning, hoping to force him into the mistakes that the Saints defense has caused little of this season. New Orleans must get better coverage and communication along the back end, and defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams will need to play at a Pro Bowl level in order to help contain New York's skill position stars. The Giants have not had a 30 point game in the last 35 games, dating back to the season finale of the 2015 season. They will likely need to score that many to keep pace with Brees and his passing offense. New Orleans is looking for history to repeat itself from last season, when they struggled defensively to open up the year, but fortified itself into a opportunistic unit that could pressure opposing offenses into game changing mistakes.