New York travels to New Orleans to battle the 2-1 Saints, who defeated the New England Patriots 28-13 on the road in Week 3. New Orleans is favored by 7.5 points, according to the latest odds.
The Saints offense is headed by former first-round pick Jameis Winston, who steps in for the retired quarterback Drew Brees' mantle. The core of the system is still in place, but there are subtle differences we'll get to in a moment.
First, let's look at the big picture. Payton's offense under Winston has averaged 24.3 points per game. Their offense is built on rushing the football, which by the way, doesn't bode well for a Giants team that just recently lost inside linebacker Blake Martinez.
The Saints' offense ranks 31st in total yards per game. They average 234 total yards per game, ranking behind the Jets. The Bears are dead last after their Week 3 debacle.
The Saints are top-10 in the league in rushing the football, averaging 120.3 yards per game. The passing attack of Jameis ranks second to last with an average of 113 passing yards per game. Winston had 27 total completions in both wins, throwing for five touchdowns on 20 attempts in Week 1.
Their offense makes heavy use of creative pre-snap motion, unique run designs, and an ability to rely on the team's defense that intercepted Patriots quarterback Mac Jones three times in Week 3 and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers twice in Week 1.
Let's take a closer look at the position groups.
After a rocky career in Tampa Bay, Winston has been a reclamation project for Payton. Winston is a capable starter who was prone to mistakes in Tampa Bay, but somehow, Payton has managed to get Winston to limit his mistakes. That said, he's still been known to try and force the footballs into dangerous situations.
Winston, who has thrown, has thrown for 387 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions this season, threw an unbelievable interception in Week 2 and ended up throwing another as well.
He can be baited into mistakes and accelerated processing, but the Giants need to do better with the pressure. New York pressured Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on 53.7% of his drop backs in Week 1; since then, they have pressured Taylor Heinicke of Washington and Matt Ryan of Atlanta 20 and 30.8 percent, respectively.
Taysom Hill also figures to be in the game plan in a short-yardage situation. Hill started several games for the Saints last season. He's an exceptional athlete who is a quick, strong runner who can run over NFL linebackers. Hill played in 33 snaps in week three, eight as a quarterback.
He is used all over the formation and is a true offensive weapon. Hill has eight carries for 49 yards and a touchdown this season. The Giants have to be aware of Hill when he's on the field.
Alvin Kamara headlines the Saints rushing attack--in fact, he's the primary offensive weapon. Kamara is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league.
He's a smooth-running, decisive back with unique burst and contact balance. Defenses are focusing on the Saints rushing attack. According to NFL NextGenStats, Kamara ranks fifth in rushing efficiency. Kamara has 52 scoreless carries for 177 total yards, an average of 3.7 yards per carry.
Kamara sees a lot of heavy fronts, and he sees 8-man boxes on about a quarter of his rushing attempts. He has the skills to put the offense on his back as a runner, but his ability as a receiver is his bread and butter. Kamara has ten catches on 13 targets for 62 yards and two scores on the season.
The Saints released Latavius Murray before the season and decided to keep second-year UDFA Tony Jones Jr, a physical back that can move piles with power. He has 16 carries for 69 yards this season.
Finally, Alex Armah is the fullback who plays in multiple running back personnel groupings.
We mentioned the loss of Blake Martinez to the torn ACL, and we're concerned about the impact that's going to take on the run defense.
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Michael Thomas is currently on IR and the Saints' No. 2 receiver, Tre'Quan Smith, remains out. These two significant losses have watered down the Saints receiving corps, a group led by second-year UDFA Marquez Callaway, speedster Deonte Harris, veteran Chris Hogan, and journeymen Kenny Stills and Ty Montgomery.
Callaway has big-play ability and won an impressive contested catch situation for a touchdown against the Patriots, but he has yet to live up to the offseason hype. Respectively, Montgomery and Hogan played 13 and 16 snaps against the Patriots, with Callaway playing in 38, Stills in 29, and Harris in 19.
Right now, it's probably safe to say that there isn't a true number one wide receiver in the corps. No Saints receiver has more than ten catches on the season, and only one has seen more than ten targets (Callaway with seven catches on 11 targets for 63 yards and one touchdown).
A welcome development for a Giants defensive secondary that has been torched of late? On paper, yes, but the Giants must account for the overall explosiveness of Callaway and Harris. (Lil'Jordan Humphrey is also on the roster, but he was a healthy scratch against the Patriots and is no guarantee to be active against the Giants).
Taysom Hill has lined up as a tight end 17 times this season, putting his diverse skillset to good use when the Saints want to run 13 personnel. Hill blocks well, catches well, and is a threat that must be accounted for every time he's on the field as the Saints won't hesitate to use him.
Adam Trautman has played the most snaps for the Saints at tight end. He is a strong blocker capable of sealing the edge and is a good receiving threat who uses his big body well to shield the ball. He hasn't been targeted much in the passing game yet this season, but given the Giants' struggles this year against opposing tight ends, that's something to watch for.
The Saints also use wide receiver Juwan Johnson as a tight end. He doesn't play as much as Trautman, but he had two touchdown catches in Week 1. Johnson is 6'4 231 pounds and is a big-bodied target who created separation and is a mismatch against linebackers and safeties.
Garrett Griffin is another tight end who sees a lot of inline blocking but does not have any pass targets this year. The Saints use a lot of 12-personnel--so far, 33% of their offensive plays have consisted of this grouping. The big bodies they have at tight end have been a key to making their running game so effective.
The Saints have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL--when fully healthy. Unfortunately, left tackle Terron Armstead left the Patriots game with an elbow injury, and he will miss the Giants game.
James Hurst filled in at left tackle for Armstead and. He played well from what I saw, but he did surrender one sack. Hurst is a 29-year-old journeyman with a lot of snaps under his belt.
The interior of Andres Peat, Cesar Ruiz, and Calvin Throckmorton has been solid through three games. Center Erik McCoy missed the Patriots game and is believed to be questionable for this week against the Giants. Throckmorton would be the odd man out if McCoy can play.
Ruiz is a young player who struggled in pass protection against New England as he becomes acclimated to guard. But he gets better each week and isn't a liability.
Peat, a 2015 first-round pick, is a converted tackle. He'll likely see a combination of Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, and this is a matchup that the Giants should be able to win.
And finally, Ryan Ramczyk is one of the best right tackles in football. Ramczyk has been a reliable, consistent force on the right side of the Saints' offense for several years as a run and pass blocker.
Bottom line: The Saints' offensive line is its strength. There are some winnable matchups, and the Giants need to find a way to pressure Winston on a four-man rush. It's not impossible, but it won't be easy.
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