The New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins are set to square off tomorrow at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 12 p.m. Central and will be regionally televised by Fox. This will be the regular season opener for both teams and there will be plenty of emotion and hype surrounding the game.
For the Saints it will be an emotional game since it will be the first post-bountygate game and the first without head coach Sean Payton. However, the Saints got some great news yesterday when defensive end Will Smith and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma had their suspensions overturned, making them eligible for tomorrow’s contest.
Smith might actually play tomorrow, but Vilma is unlikely as he is still recovering from a knee injury. The Saints’ defense will likely be inspired by the recent news and I would look for them to be all over Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Griffin, the number two overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, will make his NFL debut and it will be a tough game for the rookie quarterback. While the Saints are known for their high octane offense but it is their defense that could prove to be a difference maker in this game.
The Saints’ defense went through a makeover this off-season under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Saints’ secondary is established and while they are still young, I think if they play disciplined against Griffin, they could force some turnovers. Furthermore, the Saints’ front seven should be hungry to go after it and if I were Griffin, I might be a little intimidated.
Some games are decided on who will be available on the field for game day. Here is a look at the injury report for both teams as of today Sept. 8:
Redskins Injury Report:
- G Kory Lichtensteiger– knee injury, participated fully in practice, probable for Sunday.
- S Brandon Meriweather– knee injury, did not participate in practice, out for Sunday.
- CB Josh Wilson– abdomen injury, participated fully in practice, probable for Sunday.
- DT Chris Baker– ankle injury, participated fully in practice, probable for Sunday.
- LB Brian Orakpo– chest injury, participated fully in practice, probable for Sunday.
Saints Injury Report:
- T Marcel Jones– knee injury, did not participate in practice, out for Sunday.
- WR Adrian Arrington– knee injury, did not participate in practice, questionable for Sunday.
- CB Jabari Greer– groin injury, limited practice participation, questionable for Sunday.
- WR Marques Colston– foot injury, limited practice participation, questionable for Sunday.
- LB Curtis Lofton– ankle injury, participated fully in practice, questionable for Sunday.
- LB David Hawthorne– knee injury, participated fully in practice, questionable for Sunday.
- LB Jonathan Vilma– knee injury, did not participate in practice, questionable for Sunday.
Redskins X Factor: Without a doubt the Redskins X factor will be Griffin. I know he is just a rookie, but he was brought in to revive this franchise and the Redskins will go as far as Griffin takes them.
Griffin faces a daunting task in trying to outscore Drew Brees and the Saints. He will need help from his defense if the Redskins hope to stand a chance. Luckily for Griffin, a lot of players from the Saints’ defense are banged up right now and that might open things up for he and his offense to get going.
Saints X Factor: As far as I am concerned, the Saints’ offense will never be in question with Brees at the helm. So I think the Saints’ X factor going into this week one game will be their defense. The defense has been banged up all off-season and it will come down to who is able to dress and play on Sunday.
There are still some question marks with Saints’ secondary and the front seven is still a little banged up right now. However, if the defense can force some turnovers and pressure Griffin, I do not see how the Redskins will be able to match the Saints’ dynamic offense.
How The Redskins Can Win This Game: The Redskins will win this game if their defense can somehow slow down Brees and the Saints’ offense. The Redskins’ secondary is questionable too and they have shown in the past that they do not force many turnovers.
The Redskins will have to rely on the veteran leadership of linebacker London Fletcher and cornerback DeAngelo Hall. If the Redskins can dominate on the defensive end of the ball it will give Griffin and the offense a chance to outscore the Saints.
How The Saints Can Win This Game: To put it simply, the Saints will win this game if they can outscore the Redskins. The Saints’ offense is one of the best in the NFL and Brees is an elite quarterback who can make big play after big play. Furthermore, Brees has great receivers he can throw the ball to.
Tight end Jimmy Graham will be targeted early and often and the Redskins just won’t have an answer for him. In addition to their passing game, the Saints also have a stellar ground game.
The Saints’ rushing attack will be lead by Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram and should be able to fight for those extra yards and first downs. For the Redskins’ defense, it will be a case of “pick your poison” because the Saints can beat you on the ground or, more often, in the air. However, the Saints will still need help from their defense so Brees can have the ball in his hands as often as possible so he can light up the scoreboard.
Final Prediction: I just do not see how the Redskins’ defense can keep up with the Saints’ offense and therefore I have to give the nod to the Saints. I would not be surprised if the Saints blow out the Redskins because there are so many factors playing into the Saints’ favor.
For one, the Saints are playing an emotional home opener and I just don’t see how they can let the loyal fans of the Who Dat nation down. For two, it is Griffin’s first ever NFL game and I think he would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little nervous.
I predict the Saints will defeat the Redskins with a final score of 34-17.
You can follow him on Twitter @aaviles312