Sunday, Dec. 9. 4:25 p.m. MetLife Stadium.
Following last week’s loss, New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said that dealing with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees would be easier to deal with than the Washington Redskins‘ Robert Griffin III. Recent history says otherwise.
Drew Brees is 4-0 all time against New York, 3-0 since joining the Saints in 2006. To make matters worse, the Saints haven’t just beaten the Giants the last three matchups, they have completely dominated them: 30-7 at Giants Stadium in 2006, 48-17 at the Superdome in 2009 and 49-24 last year also in NO. For those of you not interested in math, the Saints have outscored the Giants 127-48 in those three games.
This year’s version of the Saints still has Brees and his arsenal of weapons on offense. Lance Moore (two TDs vs NYG last season), Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Darren Sproles still deliver excellent speed that the Giants historically have trouble matching up with and Jimmy Graham (two TDs vs. NYG last season) is a nightmare for the Giants’ slow-footed LB corps.
Two weeks ago, the Giants shut down the high-powered passing attack of the Green Bay Packers with their three safety look. However, safety Kenny Phillips was injured during that game and is doubtful for Sunday’s game, putting added pressure on the defensive line to get after Brees, who gets rid of the ball quickly to combat the Giants pass rush.
This year, without the leadership of suspended head coach Sean Payton, Brees has struggled with accuracy and interceptions. His current 61.8 percent completion rate would be the lowest he’s ever had since joining the Saints and his 16 INTs have him on pace to equal his career high of 22 set in 2010. Brees has never thrown an interception vs New York, but Giants S Stevie Brown is tied for the league lead in INTs by a safety with five.
On the flip side, the Giants high-powered offense will get to feast on the Saints’ NFC-worst defense. The Saints are last in the NFC in Points Allowed (327), Avg. PA (27.3) Avg. Yards Allowed/Game (440.5) and Rushing Yards Allowed/Game (153.8). That last number is of particular importance.
The Giants can keep Brees off the field by running the ball, and everyone has run the ball effectively against the Saints. Ahmad Bradshaw has a terrific matchup and rookie David Wilson should get more carries this week as well. Look for the Giants to keep the ground game going to keep the Saints’ pass rushers honest and then strike downfield against the NFC’s third worst pass defense, allowing almost 287 yards per game.
The Saints defense is as bad as it gets this year despite the stewardship of former Giants’ Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spags has not been able to recreate the success he had in NY with New Orleans. Eli Manning should be able to drive at will, but the Giants must cash in their opportunities in the red zone and not settle for so many field goals.
Giants K Lawrence Tynes has had an excellent year, connecting on 32/36 FGs (he has not missed inside 40 yards all season) and making all 31 XP attempts, leading kickers with 127 points this season. By contrast, Saints K Garrett Hartley has only had 14 FG attempts all season, making 11. He has connected on all 40 XP attempts for a total of 73 points, 30th in the NFL.
Earlier this week, Giants S Antrel Rolle commented he “didn’t see enough dogs out there” on the Giants defense, alluding to their need to play more physically and exert dominance. Look for the Giants to hawk the ball against Brees, who has struggled lately (seven INTs last two games).
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said earlier this week that the Giants season is now four games and that the team needed to win all of them. The Giants have a history of playing their best when they see their backs as against the wall. Fighting for a division crown, the Giants should see exactly that this week when playing a Saints team whose season was all but ended when they lost 23-13 to the Atlanta Falcons last week.
Look for a close, high scoring game and Eli Manning & Co to come out on top at MetLife Stadium.