New York Giants Preview: Week 4 vs. New Orleans Saints
The New York Giants looked like a completely different team in Week 3. The offense was clicking, and the pass rush was existent. All of that led to the Giants’ first win of the season at the expense of the Houston Texans.
Now, the Giants return home, but have a formidable foe lining up against them in the New Orleans Saints. One thing is for certain, and that’s this game has the potential to be a shootout.
Here’s what you need to know heading into Sunday afternoon’s game at MetLife Stadium.
Can the Giants Replicate Last Week’s O-Line Success?
Who knew that all it took for the Giants offense to thrive was to send Ereck Flowers to the bench. Chad Wheeler stepped up, and while he had the unenviable task of blocking Texans edge rusher J.J. Watt, he performed admirably. This week, he will likely face off against Cameron Jordan, who has recorded four sacks in three games, giving him yet another tough challenge to face.
The success at the line of scrimmage gave quarterback Eli Manning enough time in the pocket to find the open receiver, as well as opening up gaps for running back Saquon Barkley. Luckily for the Giants, they have a great chance of doing so, as they face a Saints defense that has been a far cry from the successful squad they were last season.
Favorable Matchups Against Saints Defense
New Orleans has allowed 421 total yards per game (third-worst in league), as well as 336.7 passing yards per game (third-most). So that makes the goal rather easy for head coach Pat Shurmur: play through the air.
If Manning has time in the pocket like he had last week, the Giants passing attack could give New Orleans fits on Sunday. Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard have the potential to have huge days, like they did in Houston. Even without tight end Evan Engram, who is dealing with an MCL sprain, the Giants succeeded with Rhett Ellison playing in relief in Week 3.
However, Barkley might have his hands full, as the Saints rush defense ranks as the sixth-best in the NFL (84.3 yards/game). Yet, the rookie has shown the ability to make the most of his carries, making negatives for most running backs into positives.
On paper, the Giants have the talent to put up some serious numbers, but that’s if they follow the same game plan that they used against the Texans.
Pass Defense Will Have It’s Hands Full
It will be yet another week without outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) and cornerback Eli Apple (groin). And it couldn’t come at a worse time.
The Saints have a three-headed monster on the offensive side of the ball that has wreaked havoc through the first three weeks of the season: Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara.
Brees is 39-years-old and breaking records like nothing. Just passing Brett Favre for most career completions, the Saints quarterback is just 417 yards away from tying Peyton Manning’s all-time passing yardage record. In just three games, Brees has already thrown for 1,087 yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Not to mention his ability to run on his feet, as he rushed for two scores of his own.
Then there’s Thomas, who has become a reception machine for the Saints. In fact, he’s on a historic pace this season, where he’s projected to haul in 203 catches for 2,123 yards, which would blow past Marvin Harrison’s single season record of 143 receptions. Thomas has already set the NFL record for most receptions in the first three games of the season with 38.
Even with the Giants pass defense ranking 11th in the league (232 yards/game), the absence of Apple will be felt. New York will have Janoris Jenkins and B.W. Webb as the starters. Besides Thomas, they will have also have their hands full with Ted Ginn Jr., Cameron Meredith, and Benjamin Watson. It won’t be easy for the James Bettcher-led defense, but he’ll certainly be up for the challenge.
Attempt to Stop Kamara
Alvin Kamara made a name for himself last season, where he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore campaign, Kamara has proven to be one of the best dual-threat rushers in the league.
While his rushing statistics don’t exactly light the stat sheet on fire (141 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries), it’s his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield that is truly impressive. Kamara has 30 receptions for 289 yards and one touchdown, making him that much more of a dangerous threat.
As for the Giants, they have averaged 111.3 rushing yards allowed through the first three weeks of 2018, which is ranked 18th in the league. However, the Giants rush defense held Texans running back Lamar Miller to ten yards on ten attempts last week, fully eliminating one of Houston’s offensive weapons. If New York can successfully stifle Alvin Kamara, that makes the path to victory that much easier. Yet, stopping Kamara is not a simple task, as proven this early in the season.
The Giants-Saints game will air at 4:25 p.m. EST on CBS.
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