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Keys to success: Saints have to make Eli Manning uncomfortable on 3rd down to have a chance

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Saints run defense has been amazing, but they are still allowing teams to convert on 48% of their 3rd downs. That’s not going to cut it against Eli Manning.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans put a considerable amount of effort into fixing their 3rd down defense during the offseason.

They gave significant contracts to defensive backs Patrick Robinson and Kurt Coleman in free agency, and then payed a trachea and kidney to move up and select DE/OLB Marcus Davenport during the NFL draft.

These acquisitions were supposed to solidify the Saints nickel and sub package.

As of today, Robinson is on IR with a leg, Davenport is questionable for today’s game with a with a hip injury, and Coleman has only appeared in roughly 40% of the defensive snaps in a role that seems to shrink weekly like my checking account.

Currently, the Giants boast the 8th best third down conversion rate in the league at 44% with Eli Manning completing 80% of his throws in those scenarios. New Orleans, on the other hand, is allowing 3rd downs to be converted on them a whopping 48% of the time.

Giants strength versus Saints weakness...something gotta Harlem shake.

6 degrees of separation

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Payton pointed out that the Saints should expect to see more man coverage this week against the Giants. This presents a challenge for No. 9 and the offense in that it’s pitch and catch when the receivers just have to find soft spots in the zones and sit. Versus man coverage, it will be paramount that all receivers not named Michael Thomas do a good job getting off the line of scrimmage and creating space in their routes versus Giants DBs so Brees has clean windows to throw into. The ability to make contested catches will be huge in this one.

Bayou Blitz

The Giants have a trio of pass-catchers in Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard who can make things happen once they get the ball in their hands. The secondary, on the other hand, has been awful at contesting passes thus far in 2018. If you don’t trust your coverage to hold up for long, then you need to make the QBs hurry his throws. New Orleans has been relatively passive as far as the blitz this season and that needs to change because receivers are only as effective as the player getting them the ball. If the throw is difficult so is the catch.

Stop the Bleeding

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

If the Saints defense can come out and limit the explosive plays in this game, it could lead to the big plays they are seeking. New Orleans plays a style of bend, don’t break D when it’s functioning properly that can lead to an offense having to take the long way down the field. So long as the secondary keeps things in front of them they can then come up and rally to make tackles. Good things happen when you populate the ball, and Sean Payton spoke about making, forcing, and recovering fumbles a point of emphasis this week in practice.

The Giants offensive line should not be able to stand-up to the Saints front seven, but this D-line is also notorious for not being as effective for away. If what Landon Collins said is true, then the Giants may look to keep this game as close as possible while relying on the run to shorten the game. If the Saints can generate a bunch of 3rd and longs, they’ll have a chance to harass Manning with some well timed blitzes. Saints 27, Giants 24