The New York Giants will take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 14. The Giants are currently in the midst of their mid-season collapse, as they have lost three of their last four outings. The Saints are on a losing streak of their own, as they have fallen to the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons in the previous two weeks.. New Orleans is 5-7 and all but eliminated from playoff contention, but this is still a dangerous football team.
The Giants will be playing with a banged up Hakeem Nicks, no Sean Locklear and most likely no Kenny Phillips. This isn't a must win game for Big Blue, as the Redskins are playing a tough Baltimore team and the Cowboys will be reeling from the tragic loss of Jerry Brown and the pending legal ramifications to be taken against starting nose tackle Josh Brent. However, if the Giants lose, there is a chance they are sitting in third-place in the NFC East on Monday morning.
Let's take a look at how the Giants should attack the Saints tomorrow afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
No Slow Start
The Giants can not show up tomorrow and spot the Saints 14 points before they decide they want to play better. We saw against the Browns and Buccaneers that this team is talented enough to come back from an early deficit. However, the Saints will bury the Giants if they get a big first-half lead.
The Giants need to score early in this game to set the tone. There can be no field goals in the red zone, no false starts, unnecessary holding penalties or early turnovers. The Saints are a better football team than their record indicates and the Giants must come ready to play.
Force New Orleans to Run the Football
The Giants are not going to be able to sit back in a cover two zone and hope Drew Brees turns the ball over a few times. We've seen this approach before, and we've seen Drew Brees pick apart the Giants secondary in the last two meetings between these teams. The Giants are going to have to change up their formations in the secondary, as well as their personnel groupings to match up with the Saints versatile offense.
However, tomorrow is going to be a cold, and possibly even a wet day in East Rutherford. The Saints are going to have a tough time running their high octane, pass heavy offense with efficiency. That said, it's important the Giants don't rely on the weather, or the surrounding environment to slow down Drew Brees and Co. The Saints are capable of putting 50 points up on the scoreboard if the Giants allow Brees to pick apart the secondary.
The Giants are going to need to get to Brees early in this game. Rushing the passer is going to have a huge effect of whether Big Blue will be able to contain New Orleans' offensive attack. By sacking, or even just putting pressure on Brees, the Saints will start to run the football to neutralize the pass rush. The Giants will also be able to bring their corners up into press coverage and jam the receivers at the line, which could take away from of those short, quick passes Brees likes to throw in the pocket. Getting Brees out of rhythm will be essential to Big Blue's success tomorrow.
For more on the Giants defensive gameplan, take a look at yesterday's Guide to Defending Drew Brees.
Run the Ball Early, Make Big Plays Late
The Giants are playing at home against the NFL's worst defense tomorrow afternoon. However, these are not the 2011 Giants we watching right now. Without a healthy Hakeem Nicks and a viable No.3 wideout, the passing attack is not as explosive as it was a year ago. However, if Ahmad Bradshaw can produce early, there will be opportunities for Big Blue to move the ball through the air in the second half.
That's not to say the Giants should not air it out early. The team was a few feet away on some Eli Manning throws from breaking two long touchdowns last week against the Redskins. However, the Giants' offense should resemble a balanced attack early, and then a passing oriented attack late (assuming the game is still close). There will be opportunities for the Giants to make plays through the air tomorrow, as the Saints are a unimpressive bunch on the defensive side of the ball. It's just a matter of executing.
Giants Secondary vs. Saints Receivers
There is a good chance the Giants are going to play without Kenny Phillips in this one. Phillips is a hard hitting, fast over-the-top safety who can act as a deterrent to teams who like to throw the deep ball. Stevie Brown is a solid replacement, but he has been known to blow coverages at times this season.
The Giants are going to have to change up between cover two zones and man coverage, but it's imperative that they leave Antrel Rolle and Brown over the top for the majority of the game. The Giants should be willing to give up the short passes that Brees will inevitably complete. They can't let Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston catch passes fifteen and twenty yards down the field with consistency. The safeties have to be ready to defend the deep ball, but able to come up and make plays on seam routes over the middle. The most physical the Giants play in the secondary, the better off they will be.
Big Game Alert
The Saints are going to either double Cruz throughout the game, or let him torch their secondary for big plays throughout. There is nobody in the New Orleans secondary capable of guarding Cruz one-on-one. Even if Cruz impact is not felt on the stat sheet, he is going to open up the field for the rest of the Giants offense to run more efficiently.
There is a good chance we are going to see No. 80 outrun the Saints secondary and get open deep tomorrow. If Eli Manning can make the throws he missed last week, the Giants may find an easy touchdown or two to Cruz.
This game may come down to who has the ball last. The Saints have an atrocious defense and a non-existent rushing attack, while the Giants are banged up on both sides of the football. If Big Blue can get some pressure on Brees and force multiple turnovers, they will win this one in a land slide. If they don't come up with a sack the entire game, similar to last week, this will be an ugly loss for the Giants.
Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he will be the best player on the field tomorrow. He's one of those players that if he comes with his absolute best game tomorrow, there's really not a lot the Giants can do to stop him. New Orleans is a flawed, yet threatening football team that has the potential to put the Giants season into limbo tomorrow. However, this offense is not going to be able to operate to its potential outside the friendly confines of a dome. The Giants should win a close one.
Giants 34, Saints 28
Also…Ahmad Bradshaw, Antrel Rolle, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Phillips, New Orleans Saints, New Orleans, New York, New York Giants, NFC, NFC East, NFL, Stevie Brown, Victor Cruz