3TFO: Saints @ Giants, Week 14
Coming off a tough loss on Monday Night Football, the New York Giants will look to rebound at home against the Saints. The Giants’ poor run defense allowed the Redskins to run for more than 200 yards as a team, a tough milestone to overcome. The G-Men also continue to struggle on defense in terms of pass coverage. Starting cornerback Corey Webster is our second-lowest rated corner in coverage in 2012. Jayron Hosley is the third-worst in coverage, while managing to play only 306 snaps. This is an issue they need to sort out against a potent New Orleans passing game.
As for New Orleans, a 0-4 start got the team in a hole that may be too big to climb out of. They have gone 5-3 in the past eight contests, but see their season slipping away. A 10-point loss in Week 13 against the division-rival Falcons put the Saints’ season on life support. This is a game they need to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Giants Defensive Line vs. Saints Offensive Line
After allowing more than 200 rushing yards, the Giants have to be concerned about their run defense going into this matchup against a talented group of running backs. Jason Pierre-Paul stands out on the D-line when it comes to stopping the run, with his +12.3 grade on rushing plays leading the team by far. He also has managed a Run Stop Percentage (tackles resulting in offensive failure) of 8.3, tied for fourth among 4-3 defensive ends. As for the interior line, Linval Joseph leads the team with 515 snaps, and he’s been fairly average at +0.9 against the run. New York’s defensive ends get most of the publicity, but Joseph and fellow defensive tackle Chris Canty (+3.2 overall) have certainly held their own.
Having talented ball carriers like Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles can make an offensive line look good, but the Saints’ front five are doing their part. All five offensive linemen grade out positively against the run. Center Brian De La Puente leads the team with a +10.6 rating as a run blocker, good for fourth among centers. The Saints also have to be happy about the production of the interior line, as guards Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans have combined for a +7.4 grade on running plays.
Giants Receivers vs. Saints Secondary
When healthy, the Giants’ receiving corps is among the best. Victor Cruz has had an impressive season, posting a 2.37 Yards per Route Run from the slot. He is second among receivers with 725 receiving yards from the slot. Hakeem Nicks has missed some time to injury, but still has been the best receiver on the team. With only two drops on 48 catchable targets, Nicks’ drop rate of 4.17 comes in sixth among NFL receivers. Tight end Martellus Bennett has also helped out in the passing game, as he leads tight ends with 154 receiving yards on deep passes.
It’s no secret the Saints have struggled on defense, with the secondary deserving a larger part of the blame. Cornerback Patrick Robinson has allowed the fifth-most yards in coverage, but he’s turned things around in recent weeks grading at +5.9 since Week 9. Cornerback Elbert Mack has played 52 of his 62 snaps in the slot in recent weeks. He’s shown well at +2.9 in coverage, but he’ll have the daunting task of keeping up with Cruz.
The safeties have not been any help either. Roman Harper leads all others at his position with 1.25 Y/CS, while Malcolm Jenkins is our lowest-rated safety on the season. He has been rated negatively for every category we use. Being flagged five times only hurts his case.
Drew Brees vs. Eli Manning
As is the case so often in today’s NFL, this matchup could end up coming down to the signal-callers. Drew Brees and Eli Manning have been two of the best this year. Only Josh Freeman has more yards this season on deep passes (20 yards or more) than Brees. Brees’ 10 touchdowns on deep balls is tied for first. If the Giants’ defense wants to stop him, they will need to pressure him. His accuracy percentage drops from 75.0% to 59.3% when under pressure.
Although Manning’s stats have not been as impressive as Brees’, his play has. He comes in one spot ahead of Brees at No. 6 among QBs ,with a rating of +26.1. New York may be better suited to let Eli do his thing, however, without worrying about play action. He has run play action less than all but one quarterback this season, and for good reason. His completion percentage without play action is 62.6% , but on play-action passes it drops to 49.2%. No matter what happens, it will be fun to watch the battle of these two great quarterbacks.
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