A meagre one point decided both the opening games for the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints. The Giants ended up on the right side of that one point with a nail-biting 20-19 win over rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The Saints were left heartbroken after a late touchdown and 2-point conversion crushed them to a 35-34 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
In 2015, the Giants and Saints played out one of the wildest offensive games in the history of the NFL where a combined 101 points and 13 touchdowns were notched up as the Saints beat the Giants 52-49. Unsurprisingly both teams ended the season as the 2 worst ranked defenses, something which the Giants looked to rectify in the off-season, spending huge amounts of money upgrading their defense.
New Orleans Saints
Although losing their opener, the Saints offense had a very productive game, registering 507 total yards with Drew Brees throwing 486 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead both had huge games, 143 and 172 reception yards between them, along with 2 and 1 touchdowns respectively. Mark Ingram had a solid game against the Raiders, rushing for 58 yards from 12 carries, but the aerial attack is where the Saints will look to test the Giants defense.
Defensely, the Saints still look like one of the worst defenses in football, giving up 486 yards against the Raiders, 167 yards of that coming on the ground. One major setback for the Saints defense was the injury to number 1 cornerback Delvin Breaux, who broke his fibula during a play in the 2nd quarter. This puts huge amounts of pressure on an already struggling secondary where young cornerbacks PJ Williams, De’Vante Harris and Ken Crawley will have to step up and make plays on Sunday.
Key Player; Drew Brees
He was totally unstoppable in last seasons win against the Giants and I feel he will have to match that sort of performance if the Saints are going to have any chance of winning this week. Brees certainly has the weapons around him with Cooks, Snead and rookie Michael Thomas leading the high powered Saints offense. He was only sacked once last week against the Raiders, so pressure on him could be the key for the Giants this week.
New York Giants
The money spent on the defense in the off-season certainly paid off against the Cowboys, where Ezekiel Elliott averaged only 2.6 yards per carry and star wide receiver Dez Bryant had just 1 catch for 8 yards as he was locked down by new man Janoris Jenkins. Locking down wide receivers will be the first objective for the Giants against the Saints as they can’t allow Drew Brees to throw all over them early and get into a nice rhythm, as the game will turn into a shoot-out just like last season, which will be exciting to watch, but ultimately will not favour the Giants.
The Giants ran the ball really well against the Cowboys, something which nobody expected. Rashad Jennings (18 rushes-75 yards) and Shane Vereen (6 rushes-38 yards) both excellent games and wore the Cowboys defense down in the 4th quarter, which enabled the Giants to get the win. Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard all should be looking to have big games against the Saints poor secondary, where Delvin Breaux will be highly missed.
Key Player(s); Giants O-Line
The much talked about O-Line for the Giants had a really outstanding game in week 1, where Eli Manning was given great protection throughout and the run game was in high gear. I think Ben McAdoo will look to run the ball early and try to control the clock, mainly to avoid a situation like last season which turned into a messy shoot-out. Also, if the Giants can run the ball well, it will set up the play-action passing game later on, where Beckham, Cruz and Shepard can really strive.
Prediction; Giants 35-24 Saints
I think the Giants defense has improved enough over the off-season to stifle the high powered Saints offense and restrict their passing game. Hopefully the Giants O-Line can show up again and the Giants can run the ball effectively, controlling the clock and the game.