In those three games, New Orleans defeated the Giants by scores of 30-7, 48-27 and 49-24. In each f those contests, the Giants found themselves flatfooted and out of place on defense while the offense sputtered in its attempt to keep up with Brees.
This time around, the Saints (5-7) are not the team they have been the past few seasons. Bountygate saw to that. Without head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines to shift gears for the offense, they have had some issues in both the play calling and time management.
Don't let that throw you. Brees has this offense down pat and he still has plenty of weapons. They can open this Giants' defense up early and often this afternoon. The Giants have no answers for TE Jimmy Graham and RB Darren Sproles.
Graham is a basketball forward in a football uniform. He'll get every jump ball. You have to foul him if you want to take it away. Sproles may be the best receiving RB in the league. The best the Giants can do here is limit the amount the plays in which they get to touch the ball.
All of that aside, the Saints have lost their last two and have only scored 13 and 21 points in the process. They can be beaten.
How the Giants can win.....
1. Score. Duh. The Saints are last in the NFL in defense. The Giants have to hang 35-40 points on this defense today. If they don't, shame on them. Don't punt. Tie Steve Weatherford to the goal post. Be aggressive, get into the green zone and go 5-5 like they did against Green Bay. You are the Super Bowl champions. Play like it.
2. Mix it up. New Orleans hasn't done too many things well on defense. That's obvious. Their main flaw being they can't stop the run. The Giants must stay patient in the run game. It will open up.
3. Get physical. It's sense of urgency time. The offensive line is hurting, but for the Giants to be successful, they have to win in the trenches. The physicality does not end with them. The entire offense needs to mix it up. Hakeem Nicks is hurting, but Domenik Hixon is back. If Hixon is right he needs to be on the field. Ramses Barden should get more snaps, too. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are great receivers, but they don't block very well. It's a team effort. Use your strengths.
1. Cover. Yeah, I know, pressure should be No.1. It is, that's why we stopped listing it. It's inferred. If you don't get pressure you're in trouble, period. The Falcons managed to cover the Saints' wideouts with backup corners last week. They pressed a bit, but not too much. The Giants have to press more on the corners. They don't do it well, but they have to start. Otherwise, Brees will hit 10-15 yard passes all day long.
2. Bottle up WR Lance Moore. Perhaps the most underrated offensive player in the league. Most teams gameplan for Graham, Sproles and WR Marques Colston. Then Sunday comes and Moore kills them. Hopefully, the Giants haven't overlooked him.
3. Physical. Again, I can't stress this enough. The Giants have to start knocking opponents off their pins. The Saints, like Green Bay, are a finesse team. They need to be the bully today. Last week, Atlanta forced Brees into five INTs. New York has to do something similar today.
1. Field Position. Last week against the Redskins, the Giants began each drive deep in their own territory. Their best start was their own 24. No good. I realize penalties had a great deal to do with that, but they have to do better. Plain and simple.
2. Don't miss. Last week, Lawrence Tynes missed a 43-yard FG that loomed large in the one-point loss in DC. The snap was bad, but what a time to miss one. All opportunities going forward will be crucial.
It's going to be raining here this afternoon. That cannot favor the Saints, who play a minimum of nine dome games per year (and another in Tampa). This could force the game to become one where the rushing games take over.