By Michael Stewart
Introduction: The New York Giants won their first their first game of the year by beating the Houston Texans 27-22. The Giants now host the New Orleans Saints who are coming into town with a 2-1 record with their last week against the Atlanta Falcons 43-37. The Saints are led by future Hall of Famer quarterback Drew Brees who past Brett Farve on the all time list in completions. The Saints offense has scored 104 points in the first three games (34.6), but has surrendered 103 points (34.3) on defense. The Giants have scored 55 points in the first 3 games (18.1) and have given up 62 points (20.2) during that span.
Top 3 Matchups:
- Time of possession: The Giants need to keep the Saints offense off the field as much as possible. The last thing the Giants want to do is get into a shootout with the Saints high powered offense. The best way of achieving this daunting task is for the Giants offense to generate long sustaining drives; which leads to points.
- Giants offense-vs-Saints defense: It’s no mystery that if the Giants fail to keep the ball out of the Saints hands on offense, there is a good chance they will lose their 3rd game of the early season. The Saints defense has struggled in the first three games and the Giants need to exploit the Saints defense. This means a collective effort from the entire Giants offense; from the offensive line to their skilled players. If the Giants offense can duplicate their offensive performance from their win against the Texans, they have a shot at the win.
- Giants defense-vs-Saints offense: More importantly the three-headed monster of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The Giants do not have anyone who can cover Thomas or Kamara effectively man to man. So look for DC James Bettcher to devise a defensive scheme of more zone coverage sprinkled with some blitzes. The Giants defense needs to keep all three players in check and not allow too many big plays. To expect the Giants defense to shutdown the high powered Saints trio is unrealistic, but if they could limit their chances and perhaps come up with a couple of turnovers along the way; their chances for a win will increase.
Summary: Look for the Saints came plan to be the same as it has been over the first three games and that’s a high tempo offense looking to make big plays down the field. I don’t expect the Giants defense to shut down the Saints offense, but they are capable of limiting the damage and keeping the score close; which would give them a chance. The best way to limit the Saints chances is to keep the ball away from the offense by winning the battle of time of possession. Historically; the Giants haven’t done well in that category over the past few years, so this will be a major challenge for them.
Final Score: Was last week’s win the turning point for the Giants as their restructured line actually gave Eli Manning a little more time in the pocket and the results was Manning’s best game of the season. This should be a fun game to watch with plenty of offensive and defensive plays being made. I’m hoping for a close match, but I’m not sold on the offensive line turning the corner yet. In the end, once both teams are in the red zone, the Giants will settle on field goals and the Saints will not. Giants fall short and suffer their third lose of the season.