The New Orleans Saints played one of their best games of the year this past Sunday in a 27-20 victory against the Rams. This week they will travel to the bay to take on a hot 49ers team who just completely manhandled the Arizona Cardinals on national television. The biggest component for the Saints having a chance in this one is the health of their players but even with a healthy squad they are likely going to need to play a near perfect game to win.
Like we do each week, let’s look at how these two passing units compare offensively and defensively.
How have these units performed this season?
When it comes to the Niners passing game, they currently sit at 8th in the league passing yards per game, 6th in passing touchdowns and 6th in passer rating. A very efficient unit in all major categories. Jimmy Garoppolo has done a great job of protecting and distributing the football to a plethora of weapons, including the acquisition of a former divisional rival. The trio of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey is among the most dangerous in the league. Each one being arguably top five players are their respective positions. In addition to that, these three players are probably the most versatile players at their positions as well, all being able to line up in the backfield or out wide at any point in time. These types of players leave defensive coordinators clueless at times not knowing what to key in on.
On to the Saints passing defense, the unit currently ranks 8th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, 6th in passing touchdowns allowed and 19th in passer rating allowed. The secondary gained some hope Wednesday when cornerback Marshon Lattimore took his first steps to being back on the field again since week five. A player they will almost certainly need in this game if he is able to go. Another player that is back from IR is cornerback Bradley Roby who looks like he should be able to play as Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football sounded pretty encouraging on his availability. If he is able to play, it will be interesting to see where he will fit in with the positive play from rookie Alontae Taylor these past couple weeks. If I had to guess, the obvious answer would be to keep him outside if Lattimore is still out, but the team may look to put him in the nickel as an upgrade over Chris Harris Jr. A position that will be targeted a bunch this week.
What to expect in this game?
We should expect a pretty dominant game from the Niners offensively. This Saints team has not proved in any way that they can hang with an offense of this caliber, at least talent wise. We’ll see a lot of misdirection, play-action boot game, and a good dose of RPO’s as well. Look for the team to target the slot matchups with Kittle, Samuel and McCaffery whom all dominate in that area. The Saints only hope is to have Lattimore and Roby back healthy for this game and matchup the best they can with this team. The front seven will most definitely need to get to Jimmy G to alleviate the pressure from the back end no matter who is available. This isn’t a game the Saints should win but getting some of their better players back gives them a much better shot.