Can the New York Giants get to 2-2 on Sunday and perhaps get themselves pointed toward being a legitimate playoff contender? Or, will they lose to the New Orleans Saints, fall to 1-3 and face a difficult climb? Here are today’s predictions from your Big Blue View staff writers.
My rule coming in to the season was that I wasn't going to pick the Giants to win until they showed me that they could. I saw some promising things against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then they went out and never trailed against the Houston Texans after their first possession. I should be free to pick them to win.
But I just don't know if I can.
The one constant with the Giants has been that once you think you have them figured out, you know what to expect, they will turn your expectations on their head.
This looks like a winable game and a great chance for the Giants' to break the 30-point barrier. And we have a lot of smart people on this staff predicting just that.
But I'm going to be like that one guy on The Price Is Right and guess $1.00.
This is a game in which anything can happen. The Saints defense could hit it’s stride and get healthy, the Giants could have an explosion of scoring.
The Giants' have a narrow path to victory over the Saints. As good as Eli Manning was in Houston, Drew Brees has been that good all season long. The Cameron Jordan has the potential to wreck the Giants' offensive plans, and the team will be without three of their best players in Olivier Vernon, Eli Apple, and Evan Engram.
But on the other hand, Brees is a different quarterback out in the elements, and the Giants will surely scheme to take away the quick timing passes upon which he has thrived.
I'll say that the Giants pull off the win at home, but do so in a surprisingly low-scoring game.
Final score: Giants 24, Saints 21
Season record: 1-2
There’s going to be a lot of talk about how bad the Saints defense is, and that’s true. It’s awful — 29th in yards allowed per drive and 31st in points allowed per drive. But the Saints offense is as good or better as the defense is bad and offense is more reliable to predict in these situations.
Drew Brees is completing 80.6 percent of his passes — a league-leading 10.2 percent above expectation — and he’s fourth in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A). It’s hard to pressure Brees — the Saints are 10th in offensive pressure rate allowed per Sports Info Solutions — and it’s even harder to bring him down — his 3.7 percent sack rate is the sixth-lowest among quarterbacks. Michael Thomas is catching 95 percent of his passes and averaging 132.7 yards per game. There’s no one on the Giants defense who can match up with Alvin Kamara and contain him, whether he’s in the backfield, in the slot, or outside. The Giants will be missing Olivier Vernon and Eli Apple. New Orleans is likely to score a lot of points.
How the Giants decide to attack the Saints will determine how close they come to staying in the game. That comes down to whether the Giants will fully commit to a full air raid offense for this game. As bad as the Saints have been against opposing passers — 32nd in DVOA against the pass and 11.8 ANY/A allowed — they’ve been the league’s best run defense. New Orleans ranks first in DVOA against the run and they’ve seen the ninth-most rushing attempts this season, so it’s not like teams are just avoiding them on the ground to throw. But the worry is with Evan Engram and Cody Latimer out, the Giants rely more on heavy personnel and “establishing” the run early, which is the worst way to attack this defense. If that’s what they do, it’s possible they get themselves into too big of a hole early and can’t catch up.
Unfortunately, that’s how I see this game going.
Final score: Saints 35, Giants 24
Season record: 2-1
I’m still kicking myself from last week because there was a small part of me that thought the Giants might pull out the win vs. the Texans. Still I couldn’t quite bring myself to make the call because I got too caught up in all the match-ups that I didn’t like and thought might go in the Texans favor.
That being said, although this week the Giants have some tough matchups—and let’s be real, they’re ALWAYS going to have some tough matchups every week—I somehow feel a little bit better about this game because of the creativity I’ve been seeing by the coaching staff to address some of those glaring concerns that are obvious on paper.
I also like the way the Giants haven’t gotten too high on themselves as they have in the past following a win.
In having spoken to a number of defensive players already for a story I’m getting ready to write for Forbes, I somehow came away with reassurance that the assignment of dealing with Saints quarterback Drew Brees and that explosive offense isn’t too big for this Giants team.
I also think the Giants offense is starting to click in its own right to where we not only will see a Giants win this week, but the very strong possibility of them cracking the 30-point mark for the first time since the final game of the Tom Coughlin era.
Final score: Giants 33, Saints 28
Season record: 1-2
Ironically the one week in which I felt the Giants had the best chance to get their first win, I picked against them. This week I will try not to fall for the same trap.
In order to get back on track, the Giants need to come out swinging early. The Saints are the one of the most productive offenses in the league with an average of 428 yards per game. Interestingly enough they are surrendering 421 yards per game to opponents.
If you thought Eli looked good last week, you are in for a treat. Despite boasting two of the best sophomore defensive backs in the NFL in Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore, the Saints secondary has struggled mightily. Even if Lattimore bests Odell Beckham, there will be plenty of opportunities for other Giants receivers.
On defense, the Giants pass rush will be facing one of the best offensive lines they will see all season. Getting after the quarterback will be a mighty task, but if the secondary is healthy they might be able to slow down Drew Brees just enough. Besides Michael Thomas, New Orleans doesn’t boast any real talent at the receiver position. However that doesn’t negate Alvin Kamara, who is a threat to put up 100 scrimmage yards any game.
In order to win, the Giants offense needs to come to play. While 27 points was nice last week, they need way more than that to beat the Saints.
Final score: Giants 45, Saints 42
Season record: 1-2
Save Week 2 against the venerable Cleveland Browns defense, the Saints have put up at least 40 points per game this season. And that’s nothing new: The team has been in the top 10 in points and top five in yards for seven years. That’s the bad news for the Giants. The good news, though, is that the New Orleans defense has been just as generous giving up points and yards, ranking last in the league in the former and 30th in the latter so far this season, much as it’s been over that seven-year span of brilliant, Drew Brees-led offense.
This means that the Giants are easily in line for a 30-plus point performance on Sunday. But it also means that the Saints are, as well. At least the Saints don’t have the home-dome advantage that would tip the odds of winning a shootout in their favor. But can the Giants close out a game? Last week’s win over the Texans points to a team that still hasn’t gotten the hang of playing a consistent, four quarters of football, and that’s what has me believing that in a high-scoring game, the Giants won’t be able to keep on the throttle enough for 60 minutes of winning football.
Final score: Saints 40, Giants 33
Season record: 1-2
I’ll go on the optimistic side this week.
The Saints’ defense cannot stop anyone right now. They’re giving up 336.7 yards per game in the air, third-most in the league. They’ve given up 10 touchdown passes, most in the league (tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers). They’re giving up an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt to opposing quarterback of 11.8, which is the worst in the league by a long shot. The Oakland Raiders are behind them with a mark of 8.9. And for reference, Patrick Mahomes, who is lighting up scoreboards and has 13 touchdown passes without an interception, has an ANY/A of 11.8 as well.
The Saints’ pass defense is turning opposing passers into Mahomes.
Final score: Giants 35, Saints 28
Season record: 1-2
OK, so look at my winless record thus far and it’s apparent my crystal ball is busted. Reality is, and has actually been, that I’m not very good at predicting the outcome of games. Don’t bet your heard-earned money off my advice.
That said, I’m in this mess. Let’s see if I can start to climb out.
I’m really not sure the Giants have the ability to slow Drew Brees and the prolific New Orleans offense. I feel, though, like this could be the week the Giants finally play a complete game on offense and crash through that 30-point barrier. Brees might just become the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yardage on Sunday. He needs 418 yards to pass Peyton Manning for most passing yards all-time, and Brees has topped 400 yards passing an NFL record 16 times in his career. He had 439 in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This feels like a season-making kind of game to me. The Saints are a good, strike that, REALLY GOOD team with an incredible offense. The Giants offense hinted last week at what it can be. I think they will have to do more than hint at it this week or they will be 1-3 with a huge mountain to climb. I will choose to be optimistic about where the Giants will stand come Sunday night.
Final score: Giants 38, Saints 34
Season record: 0-3