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NEWARK STAR LEDGER
Giants Gameday: Giants (7-5) vs Saints (5-7)
Except: "4:25 p.m., MetLife Stadium
TV - Ch. 5; Radio
WFAN 660-AM/101.9 FM
3 matchups to watch
1. Giants pass rush vs. Drew Brees
Jason Pierre-Paul said facing Drew Brees today would be “easier” than dealing withRobert Griffin III last Monday. His teammates didn’t agree, but Pierre-Paul’s point was clear: The Giants defense relishes playing against traditional pocket passers. The pass rush feasts on stationary targets (see the past two Super Bowls) and has shown success this season against the 49ers and Packers (though it can be argued that whileAaron Rodgers isn’t exactly immobile, he’s not a scrambler). But Brees has a 4-0 record with 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 122.1 passer rating in four career starts against the Giants. In the teams’ meeting last season, he went 24-of-38 for 363 yards and four touchdowns. And there have been times this season when pocket passers have tormented the Giants with quick passes and taken advantage of coverage gaffes. So, as some might say, be careful what you wish for.
2. Victor Cruz vs. Saints secondary
It was ugly for the Giants in New Orleans last season — so ugly that they said they’d rather forget about the 49-24 beating when asked about it this week. But there were some positives to take away from it, especially in the passing game. Victor Cruz (nine receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns) and Eli Manning (33-of-47 for 406 yards and two touchdowns) each had one of their best statistical performances of the season in the loss. Though the Saints defense has a new defensive coordinator — former Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo — they are the league’s worst defense (440.5 yards per game) and Cruz said he sees plenty of opportunities for big plays. Having Hakeem Nicks, who is questionable, would help.
3. Giants run defense vs. Saints running back quartet
The Saints feature one of the league’s most diverse group of running backs. They’ve had four running backs start a game this season, and each has at least 26 carries for the season. And each brings a different element and style. The shifty and diminutiveDarren Sproles has 26 carries, but he is primarily a pass-catching threat with 51 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns. Mark Ingram (98 rushes for 352 yards, three touchdowns) is more of an inside-the-tackles runner, while Pierre Thomas (89 rushes for 425 yards, one touchdown) and Chris Ivory (36 rushes for 195 yards, three touchdowns) are a blend of speed and power. Known for their passing prowess, the Saints have rushed for at least 101 yards in four of their past five games, and accumulated 205 against the Giants last season.
Did you know?
This will be the Saints’ first visit to MetLife Stadium since it opened for the 2010 season. The last time the Saints traveled to East Rutherford, it was to the old Giants Stadium in 2006 when they blew the home team out 30-7.
The number: 14
That’s the Giants’ turnover differential this season, tied for second-best in the NFL with the Bears and Texas, and behind the Patriots plus-24 margin. The Giants have intercepted 18 passes and forced 12 fumbles, while only committing 16 turnovers." Read more...
Giants' Cornerback Corey Webster Keeps Working To Correct Breakdowns
Excerpt: "Corey Webster knows the tape doesn’t lie. All those coverage breakdowns, and quick strikes through the air by opponents, and potentially game-changing plays the Giants wish they could scrub from the record this season are out there for anyone to see.
“You watch the games, right?” the veteran cornerback said after practice Friday afternoon. “So you always have a little frustration when you’re not at the top of the game.”
Webster is speaking about the secondary as a whole. But as the Giants’ No. 1 cornerback since the 2007 Super Bowl XLII season, and the eldest member of the unit in his eighth year, Webster is a tone-setter for what goes right or wrong in the secondary — of prime importance Sunday, as the Giants face the Saints’ third-ranked passing game with playoff stakes heightened after last week’s loss to the Redskins.
“We want to be the best defense; we don’t want to be down in the rankings,” Webster continued. “I want to be No. 1. I want to be the best secondary. That’s how I work; that’s how I come here, to get better. When that doesn’t happen, or when the stats don’t say the same — we don’t look for stats, but I’m just saying, if they don’t say the same, something’s got to be done, something’s got to happen.”
The stats rank the Giants 22nd in the league in pass defense, having allowed nearly 250 yards in the air per game. They have 18 interceptions, tied for second-most in the NFL, but have also surrendered 44 pass plays of 20 yards or more, 11 that have gone for touchdowns. The Saints, by the way, lead the league with 31 passing touchdowns.
Webster, in many ways, is a microcosm of the secondary’s up-and-down performance this season. His four interceptions are the second-most on the team, his latest against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, when Webster made an aggressive move to abandon his receiver because he had safety help, and undercut receiver Randall Cobb’s route.
But then, there are the examples on the flip side:" Read more...
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS.
Without Tandem of Drew Brees And Sean Payton, Saints Struggling And Giants Need To Take Advantage
Excerpt: "Roger Goodell handed Saints the NFL version of the death penalty when he suspended Sean Payton for the entire season in the BountyGate scandal, leaving Drew Brees to get through the season without his friend, mentor and play caller.
That’s all good news for the slumping Giants as they face the Saints on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium and try to hang on to first place in the NFC East with the Redskins and Cowboys just one game behind. This begins a brutal last quarter of the season for the Giants with games at Atlanta and Baltimore coming up next before finishing at home against what could be an emotional Eagles team likely playing its last game for Andy Reid.
Bill Belichick with Tom Brady, Tom Coughlin with Eli Manning and Brees with Payton are the three best coach-quarterback tandems in the league. Belichick and Brady have won three Super Bowls, Coughlin and Manning have won two by beating Belichick and Brady twice, and Payton and Brees have won title and have come close a couple of times to getting back in The Big Game.
It won’t happen this year. New Orleans is 5-7 and Payton is spending the season in disgrace in Dallas as he helped coach his son’s sixth-grade football team after he was the first head coach in NFL history to be suspended. He had to get his football fix with a bunch of middle-school kids.
“I run the offense,” Payton told the New Orleans Times-Picayune earlier this season. “We have 12 plays on the wristband. The terminology is the same as we used in New Orleans. The kids said, ‘This looks hard.’ But I said, ‘I’ve seen your homework. That’s a lot harder.’ ”
There have been times this season when Brees has looked lost without Payton, including the Saints’ last game when he threw a career-high five interceptions and had his NFL record of consecutive games throwing a touchdown end at 54 against the Falcons in a loss that did severe damage to the playoff run they were putting together after an 0-4 start.
“You’ve got to have a lot of trust and a lot of confidence to play this position and I believe in myself and I believe in this team,” Brees said.
His decision-making is not as good without Payton. Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer coached the team the first six games while interim coach Joe Vitt served his six-game BountyGate suspension.
Neither of them are Payton.
Brees has been more careless with the football without Payton orchestrating the offense. He has 31 touchdowns and 16 interceptions (last year he had 46 TDs and 14 INTs) and he seems to be trying too hard to prove to Goodell he can will New Orleans into the playoffs without Payton and make the commissioner even more uncomfortable with Super Bowl XLVII being played in the Big Easy on Feb. 3. But the Saints have just about blown any chance to be the first team to play the Super Bowl on their home field." Read more...
For Giants, Facing Drew Brees Compared To RG III
Excerpt: "Maybe Antrel Rolle was right. Maybe the Giants did spend too much time praising Robert Griffin III before they played him on Monday night. But they did it because they were legitimately worried about stopping the Redskins’ unusual triple-option attack.
So in a way, it’s a relief for the defending Super Bowl champions to be facing the New Orleans Saints and QB Drew Breeson Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands. The Saints may have the sixth-best offense in the NFL and Brees might be “one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” as many Giants labeled him last week.
But at least the Giants’ defense knows they can find him in the pocket. And unlike with RG3 and the Redskins, they’ll usually have a pretty good idea where the ball is, too.
“Just playing that option, man, is crazy,” said Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “It’s a pain in the butt. I hate playing it. So now, going up (against) a traditional offense, we know what we’re going to probably get.
“And it’s much easier.”
Easier? That might be a stretch, considering Brees is 4-0 against the Giants in his career and has thrown 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. And the last two times he’s faced the Giants the Saints have won by a combined score of 97-51 and his passer rating was 143.8.
So it’s not that the Giants (7-5) are overconfident at all heading into what they believe is a must-win game against Saints (5-7). They know Brees can light it up with the best of them, and that the Saints average 26.8 points per game. It’s just that the differences between the offensive schemes of the Redskins and Saints are significant. The triple option creates one of the worst matchups for the Giants’ aggressive defense. It kept their dangerous pass rush (30 sacks this season, none Monday night) off balance.
That shouldn’t be the case against Brees.
“(Facing) Drew Brees is way different,” said defensive tackle Linval Joseph. “Brees isn’t going to run the ball as much as RG3. He has a good receiving corps and he throws the ball a lot.
“We’re back to regular football this week.” Read more...
THE NEW YORK POST
Contain Brees And Giants Maintain East Lead
Excerpt: "Let’s get one thing straight: Just because the Giants have been here before doesn’t mean they like it.
“Obviously, we’ve been in this situation before, so people are always going to say do we want to put ourselves in this position?’’ David Diehl said. “No, absolutely not.’’
The position is enviable and tenuous at the same time. A one-game lead in the NFC East with four to play heading into today’s game against the Saints is not bad, except for the fact that the arrow is pointing down (three losses in the last four games) while the competition (Redskins and Cowboys) seems to be peaking.
When Victor Cruz says, “We’re excited for the opportunity to play these last four going into the playoffs on a good swing with some good momentum,’’ there’s an assumption the playoffs are the logical destination. Well, if the Giants can’t subdue the out-of-contention-but-still-dangerous Saints, the postseason moves that much further away.
Coach Tom Coughlin has told the Giants they need to win out. Antrel Rolle pleaded for them to get nasty, to play with more of a “dog mentality’’ because, he says “all dogs bite.’’ There is no question, until this team puts together consistent performances one week after the next, it is going to be a struggle to get where they want to go." Read more...
Long Field Makes For A Long Day
Excerpt: "The Giants hope to be in better position today against the Saints than they were for much of the night Monday at FedEx Field, when they were often pinned back so deep in their own territory they needed a telescope to see the other end zone.
In the second half of the 17-16 loss to the Redskins, the Giants had four offensive series — they started the possessions on the Washington 9, 9, 8 and 20-yard line. Two holding penalties on backup offensive lineman Jim Cordle on kickoff returns played a big part in the disadvantageous field position.
“Penalties lose games because you lose field position, so you can’t do that to our offense, make them start from the 8 and the 9, that’s very poor,’’ special teams coach Tom Quinn said. “We have to keep our hands inside and we can’t hold.’’
There should be opportunities for the Giants to exploit the lowly Saints defense, but starting in the shadow of their own end zone will compromise scoring chances.
* Look no further than red-zone efficiency to spot the differences between these offenses. The Saints lead the NFL in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns 70.3 percent of the time when inside the 20-yard line. The Giants are 23rd, reaching the end zone just 49 percent of the time.
* Could this finally be the game for rookie RB David Wilson to erupt? Though Andre Brown (broken leg) is gone for the season, Wilson got just four rushing attempts last week and gained only nine yards.
“I was kind of expecting more, but really I didn’t know what to expect,’’ Wilson said.
The Saints allow an NFL-worst 153.8 rushing yards per game." Read more...
Time For Rolle, Giants To Get Ruff
Excerpt: "It is now time for Eli Manning, more than anyone, to play the fourth quarter of the season the way he has played the fourth quarters of Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
Manning isn’t fighting for his career, the way Mark Sanchez is, he’s fighting to keep the Lombardi Trophy in East Rutherford. He’s fighting to keep the Giants on top of the football world, and that fight suddenly is a fight to the finish that begins today.
On Maul Saints Day.
If Manning, more than anyone, shows up with that dog mentality Antrel Rolle has been calling for all week, then the Giants will have a chance to build the bridge to history as the first Giants team to repeat as champions.
It means getting your team in the end zone, whether Hakeem Nicks is a shell of his explosive self or not, and getting the better of Saints QB Drew Brees and getting the Giants to 8-5 before the treacherous road trips to Atlanta and Baltimore.
It means jumping on Steve Spagnuolo’s vulnerable defense and giving Jason Pierre-Paul and friends the chance to feast on Brees and feed off a rocking and rollicking MetLife Stadium crowd.
What Rolle would prefer to call Mardi Grrrrrrras.
It means getting your offense to perform as a well-oiled machine, as opposed to the sputtering outfit that leaked drive-sabotaging penalties in Monday’s loss at Washington. It means elevating the play of everyone around you.
Manning doesn’t have a tired arm anymore, and Tom Coughlin doesn’t have a tired team anymore, and Brees doesn’t have the comfort of the Dome, and he doesn’t have suspended coach Sean Payton scheming alongside him.
But the defending champions haven’t scared away Robert Griffin III or the Redskins, and they haven’t scared away Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, and if they think the mere sight of them charging out to the field wearing NY will make everyone swoon at their feet, if they think that you can defend a championship by playing like champions some of the time instead of all of the time, then someone else will be champions.
And that mural covering the wall outside their weight room filled with images from Super Bowl XLVI will seem like a distant memory.
“Obviously, a lot of great memories, and glad that they put up something to, I guess, have something to remember that season, it’ll be there for a long time, and obviously, it was a fun year,” Manning said.
That year is over. The mural can be seen as the beginning of the bridge Coughlin has wanted built to New Orleans.
“Obviously, when you build a bridge, it’s connecting last year to this year, it’s not, ‘Forget about last year,’ ” Manning said.
Forget about this year if Big Blue is too soft or slow to contain Darren Sproles or too undisciplined to cope with Jimmy Graham. Forget about this year if Manning doesn’t get Victor Cruz salsaing to his heart’s content.
Rookie David Wilson, of course, is not on the mural.
“All those players, basically, are still on this team, almost,” Wilson said. “Seeing that, and me being a rookie and not being on that team last year, makes me be a part of something like that.” Read more...
THE BERGEN RECORD
Giants vs. Saints Matchup
Excerpt: "What's at stake
Giants: The remainder of the regular season promises to be a dogfight as the Giants cling to a one-game lead in the NFC East over Washington and Dallas. Their divisional record is the worst among the three contenders and that is the tiebreaker between the Giants and either team, considering they split the regular-season series with both. Should be interesting to see if Tom Coughlin's assertion that his team would have to win all four of its remaining games to win the NFC East holds true.
Saints: The Saints are a long shot to make the postseason following a loss to Atlanta last week, their second in a row. But Drew Brees carved up the Giants last season in New Orleans and will come here looking to do so again. If the Saints can win out, they would guarantee themselves a winning record despite all of the off-season turmoil revolving around Bountygate, the suspension of head coach Sean Payton and their awful start.
Giants LB Jacquian Williams vs. Saints TE Jimmy Graham: After missing six games with a PCL injury, Williams is listed as probable and should bring much-needed speed to the middle of the field, especially in coverage to combat all of the Saints' weapons. Graham, an All-Pro, is a mismatch anywhere he lines up. He caught five passes for 84 yards and two scores in last season's meeting between these two teams at the Superdome." Read more...
NEW YORK TIMES
MATCHUP: Saints (5-7) at Giants (7-5)
Excerpt: "4:25 p.m. Eastern, Fox
Matchup to Watch
Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Jermon Bushrod
Like most of the Giants, Pierre-Paul has had an inconsistent season, and he said the Giants’ defense looked soft in last week’s loss to Washington. Trying to reach Drew Brees, a traditional drop-back passer, will be a welcome change for the Giants after dealing with the speedy Robert Griffin III, but the pressure must increase. The Giants have not recorded a sack in two of their last three games.SITE LINK
Number to Watch64.8" Read more...
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Giants' Coaching Tree Has Many Branches
Excerpt: "To know the G-Men is to love them. To really have knowledge of the New York Football Giants is to also realize that the Big Blue branches reach far beyond the organization itself.Last post-season, late ownerWellington Mara’s wife Ann Marapassed a humorous comment during her stay near Green Bay, Wisconsin for the New York Giants versus Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round of the 2011 playoffs.
"Let me tell you about Green Bay," she said. "This is before we even got to the stadium on Lombardi Ave., before it was Lombardi this and Lombardi that. This was at the hotel the night before [in Appleton, Wis.]. They even had a Lombardi Steakhouse, with a letter from my husband framed on the wall. All this Lombardi around you, no matter where you turned, and all I could think was, Vinny used to sleep on our couch!’… 1040 Park Ave. We didn't know at the time we had an immortal sleeping on the hideaway."
Love that woman. And the fact that she recognizes roots. She was referring to the fact that the infamous Vince Lombardi started his NFL career as a New York Giant (offensive coordinator).
Parity keeps the NFL fresh in a CBA-like sense of the word. However, contracts and players, coaches, scouts, and general managers moving on creates the opposite. Teams begin to adopt a bit of a shell from another because of this and also take with them valuable knowledge of their former team.
Since the Giants are one of the oldest franchises standing, there are more leaves on those legendary Big Blue branches. Ask the average Dallas Cowboys fan about Tom Landry – guaranteed that they don’t even mention his defensive coordinator position with the Giants alongside Lombardi.
Currently, former Giants make up many of the coaches that are still active: Tom Coughlin, Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, John Fox, Jason Garrett…and then there are assistant coaches." Read more...
Giants vs, Saints: Week 14 Game Preview
Excerpt: "The New York Giants will take on theNew Orleans Saints in Week 14. The Giants are currently in the midst of their midseason collapse, as they have lost three of their last four outings. The Saints are on a losing streak of their own, as they have fallen to the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons in the previous two weeks.. New Orleans is 5-7 and all but eliminated from playoff contention, but this is still a dangerous football team.
The Giants will be playing with a banged up Hakeem Nicks, no Sean Locklear and most likely no Kenny Phillips. This isn't a must win game for Big Blue, as the Redskins are playing a tough Baltimore team and the Cowboys will be reeling from thetragic loss of Jerry Brown and the pending legal ramifications to be taken against starting nose tackle Josh Brent. However, if the Giants lose, there is a chance they are sitting in third-place in the NFC East on Monday morning.
Let's take a look at how the Giants should attack the Saints tomorrow afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
No Slow Start
The Giants can not show up tomorrow and spot the Saints 14 points before they decide they want to play better. We saw against the Browns and Buccaneers that this team is talented enough to come back from an early deficit. However, the Saints will bury the Giants if they get a big first-half lead.
The Giants need to score early in this game to set the tone. There can be no field goals in the red zone, no false starts, unnecessary holding penalties or early turnovers. The Saints are a better football team than their record indicates and the Giants must come ready to play.
Force New Orleans to Run the Football
The Giants are not going to be able to sit back in a cover two zone and hope Drew Brees turns the ball over a few times. We've seen this approach before, and we've seen Drew Brees pick apart the Giants secondary in the last two meetings between these teams. The Giants are going to have to change up their formations in the secondary, as well as their personnel groupings to match up with the Saints versatile offense.
However, tomorrow is going to be a cold, and possibly even a wet day in East Rutherford. The Saints are going to have a tough time running their high octane, pass heavy offense with efficiency. That said, it's important the Giants don't rely on the weather, or the surrounding environment to slow down Drew Brees and Co. The Saints are capable of putting 50 points up on the scoreboard if the Giants allow Brees to pick apart the secondary.
The Giants are going to need to get to Brees early in this game. Rushing the passer is going to have a huge effect of whether Big Blue will be able to contain New Orleans' offensive attack. By sacking, or even just putting pressure on Brees, the Saints will start to run the football to neutralize the pass rush. The Giants will also be able to bring their corners up into press coverage and jam the receivers at the line, which could take away from of those short, quick passes Brees likes to throw in the pocket. Getting Brees out of rhythm will be essential to Big Blue's success tomorrow.
For more on the Giants defensive gameplan, take a look at yesterday's Guide to Defending Drew Brees." Read more...
BIG BLUE VIEW
THE RED ZONE.
Saints Hope By Beating Giants They Can Copycat Last Year's Giants
Excerpt: "The spoils of Decembers past for the New Orleans Saints are no longer. In the past three seasons, the Saints were jockeying for such goals as NFC South titles, first-round byes and No. 1 seeds in the playoffs.
It's not lost on those in the Saints' locker room that the scenario this season is vastly different entering the home stretch of the regular season.
The 5-7 Saints essentially have to win out starting Sunday on the road against the New York Giants and hope, beg, and plead for several teams ahead of them to tank the rest of the season as the Saints are parked at No. 12 in the NFC playoff race.
Seattle (7-5) holds the final Wild Card spot currently, while Washington, Tampa Bay and Dallas sit at 6-6 and even St. Louis has a better shot at making the playoffs at 5-6-1.
One Saints veteran after the other knew better than to sugarcoat the situation as they realize any postseason bid relies not only on themselves, but on a slew of other teams as well.
"This position is no fun to be in, because you feel like other people control your destiny," Drew Brees said. "You always want to be in position where you're the one who's writing his own ticket. At times you have to battle through situations like this. There are many teams in the past that have been through situations where they have to win down the stretch and need some things to happen and sneak in. If you win four in a row going into the playoffs, you're obviously playing some good football and that's our goal."
Tackle Jermon Bushrod added: "We understand our situation at hand and everything we're dealing with. We dug ourselves a hole. There's an opportunity for us maybe to get in if we win each week, but we just have to focus on the things that we can do. We're all here to win games. We're not here to lay it down and think our season has just gone by us. No, no. We're continuing the fight to get better."
Saints defensive players aren't kidding themselves either about the unfamiliar predicament the Saints are faced with going into the final four weeks of the season.
"This is your job," linebacker Curtis Lofton said. "This is what feeds your family. Regardless of what the situation is, you've got to go out and win games. This is a prideful bunch. We're not just going to go down and lay down for anybody. We still want to win out. And hey, we win out and see where the cards fall at the end of the season and you never know." Read more...
Giants Out For Revenge vs. Saints
Excerpt: "Osi Umenyiora remembers spraining his ankle and going into the locker room for X-rays in the second quarter in New Orleans last year.
"By the time I came out, they scored like four or five touchdowns in that span," Umenyiora said. "It was like we didn't know what had happened."
Ask Perry Fewell about the night Drew Brees torched his defense for five touchdowns -- four through the air and one on the ground in a 49-24 Saints win -- and the defensive coordinator is in no mood to reminisce.
"I want to forget about that game," Fewell said. "Because they kicked the [bleep] out of us."
On Sunday, the Giants will be reunited with Brees and the Saints, and they're hoping this game will be more memorable.
The problem is, Brees has been an absolute nightmare for the Giants.
Jason Pierre-Paul may think it will be "easier" for the Giants to face a more conventional offense and quarterback in the Saints and Brees after spending Monday night trying to figure out what Robert Griffin IIIwas going to do in the Washington option offense. But Brees has practically owned the Giants. He is 4-0 against Big Blue, with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the past two meetings, he has passed for eight touchdowns and had a 143.8 quarterback rating.
In those four wins over the Giants, Brees' teams have scored 45 or more points three times and scored no fewer than 30.
Forgive Umenyiora for wondering what Pierre-Paul meant by "easier."
"I would never say that," Umenyiora said. "I played against Drew Brees four times in my career, and they've been blowouts every single time. So I'd never say there's anything easy about playing against him."
But Pierre-Paul can point back to two weeks ago, when the Giants smothered Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers 38-10 at home. During that game, the Giants harassed Rodgers, sacking him five times and picking him off once. Rodgers finished with just 219 yards passing and one touchdown." Read more...
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