NFL Wire News

Giants gunning for rare win in Superdome

on

The Sports Xchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It’s been quite a while since the New York Giants won a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome — 22 years to be exact.

That last victory, a 24-14 decision, came on Dec. 20, 1993, when Phil Simms was the Giants starting quarterback and record holder of many franchise passing marks, and Dan Reeves was the head coach.

Back then, of course, current Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a 12-year-old boy growing up in New Orleans, would grow up to shatter many of Simms’ Giants team records, while head coach Tom Coughlin, who spent three seasons as the head coach at Boston College, would ultimately make the jump back to the NFL the following year when he was named the first-ever head coach of the Jaguars.

A lot has changed since that 1993 game, obviously, but for the Giants, who have since played the Saints 12 more times, four of which in New Orleans (the 2005 game, although a Saints home game, was played in East Rutherford due to Hurricane Katrina’s devastating effects in the gulf region), the goal is the same: find a way to win so as to retain position as the NFC East division leader.

It won’t be easy; the Saints are 3-1 this year at home, the victories coming against the Cowboys, Falcons and Colts.

“The times we’ve played, it’s been loud. So it’s always going to be loud,” said Manning, who knows a thing or two about the passion on display by the Saints fans which makes it so hard for the visiting team to get much done.

“Their offense has been scoring and we’ve gotten down, so they get pumped up. We’ve got to do a good job just trying to control the crowd, try to get some first downs and get into a little rhythm. It’s going to get loud at times, but we can deal with that.”

To make sure that is the case, Coughlin said he will be pumping in crowd noise all week at practice to get his players accustomed to such things like silent snap counts, hand signals and other methods to combat the expected noise levels.

He, of course, has good reason to be concerned. In the two games Coughlin’s team has played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Giants have racked up 13 penalties, including four in their last visit (in 2011), two of which were false starts.

Besides having the 12th man in their corner, the Saints, according to Coughlin, are a team that’s on the upswing having won their last two games to improve to 3-4.

They also have talent that’s capable of making things miserable foe an opponent. On offense, quarterback Drew Brees is completing 67.6 percent of his passes, which puts the Saints’ passing game third. The Saints’ sixth-ranked offense is also completing 45.9 percent of its third-down attempts thanks to weapons such as running back Mark Ingram, receivers Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, and tight end Ben Watson.

Defensively, the league’s 30th overall defense has eight takeaways in the last three games and have been stubborn on third downs, allowing opponents a 33.7 percent conversion rate, fourth in the NFL.

“They’ve improved quite a bit,” Coughlin said of the Saints, who began the season 0-3 before winning three of their last four games.

“They’re a good offensive team, they’re a good defensive team. Of course, they have an outstanding home situation and environment to play in.”

SERIES HISTORY: 28th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 15-12. In their last meeting, the Giants destroyed the Saints, 52-27 at home in Week 14 during the 2012 season. The Giants are 4-8-0 against the Saints on the road.

GAME PLAN: Offensively, the Giants need to find a way to build off of last week’s solid performance by their running game against a Saints run defense that is allowing 129.1 rushing yards per game to opponents, the fifth most in the league.

To be fair, the Saints, who gave up 100-yard rushing games in their first five games, have been better in their last two, yielding 81 yards to the Falcons and 75 to the Colts, but the Giants, who discovered the talents of Orleans Darkwa, are sure to mix and match their running backs, with a heavy dose of Darkwa likely.

Defensively, the Giants need to really do their homework regarding quarterback Drew Brees, who has completed 67.6 of his pass attempts this season. Brees is a master at faking players out with the double-pump fake, so given the presence of young Giants defensive backs like safety Landon Collins and cornerback Jayron Hosley, and of linebacker Uani ‘Unga, they’re going to need to be extra careful that they don’t fall victim to Brees’ trickery.

The key will be for the defenders to watch the receivers rather than the quarterback, and to make sure they break with the receivers at the same time in order to be in the vicinity of where the ball is headed.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Giants RT Marshall Newhouse vs. Saints DE Cameron Jordan.

Although Newhouse didn’t allow any sacks last week to the Cowboys, his pass protection hasn’t been quite as solid as it was earlier in the season. According to Pro Football Focus, Newhouse has allowed 14 quarterback pressures in his last three games, the most by any of the Giants’ starting five offensive linemen this season. Although Jordan primarily plays on the strong side, it would not be a surprise if the Saints move him over to face Newhouse, especially after seeing how well Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers handled his matchup last week against defensive end Greg Hardy.

–Giants Run Defense vs. Saints RB Mark Ingram.

The Giants run defense, which started out on fire in the first month of the season, has stumbled upon hard times these last three weeks, allowing 100-plus yards on the ground to opposing offenses and this falling from being a top-3 unit to 21st in the league. What’s more, the rushing yardage total has seemingly increased each week–last week the Cowboys rushed for 233 yards on 41 carries with one touchdown, with 152 of those yards by Darren McFadden. In Ingram, whose father Mark Sr. is a former Giants receiver, New York is going to face another tough customer. Ingram is currently ranked 10th in the league in rushing yards with 450, and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He’s also a threat out of the backfield, where he’s posted 235 yards on 29 catches (8.1 yards per catch). The Giants, who have been sloppy in both tackling and in protecting the edge, had better clean both areas up if they don’t want Ingram gashing them for large chunks of yardage.

–Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Saints CB Delvin Breaux.

Head coach Tom Coughlin said that the Saints usually put Breaux on the opposition’s best receiver, and with good reason. According to Pro Football Focus, Breaux has allowed only 18 of the 41 pass targets against him to be complete for 349 yards (113 after the catch). While he has allowed three touchdowns while coming up with one interception, Breaux also has nine pass breakups so far to lead the Saints corners. Breaux, a 2014 undrafted free agent signing out of LSU who survived a serious neck injury in 2006, will go against former LSU alumnus Beckham, who said of Breaux, “From watching his film, he looks very balanced, very agile, and able to move. It should be interesting.”


About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business