Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At New York Jets
- QuarterbackDrew Brees is sharp enough to know that the Jets are going to be coming home angry after getting humiliated in Cincinnati. That means he is not going to force the ball and he will take what the defense gives him. There may be no better quarterback in the NFL under those circumstances because Brees is patient and accurate.Geno Smith has had some decent moments and the Jets are in decent shape at 4-4, but it’s hard to feel confident after his performance against Cincinnati. Smith completed 20-of-30 passes for 159 yards, but he threw two interceptions that were both returned for touchdowns. Smith needs his receivers to get open by more than a step or he is at risk.
- OffenseThe Saints are not operating at full strength, yet they still managed to put 35 points on the board in their Week Eight victory over the Buffalo Bills. The running attack has been ordinary this year with Pierre Thomas and that’s not likely to change against the Jets. Tight end Jimmy Graham is playing with a painful foot injury, but he still caught two TD passes against the Bills. Marques Colston will get open.The Jets have gotten solid productivity from their running attack, but the Saints will load up to try to slow the Jets’ ground game because they don’t respect Smith. Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill are both decent receivers, but neither one is a consistent threat. Santonio Holmes can be a difference maker, but hamstring problems regularly keep him out of the lineup.
- DefenseThe Saints have been quite solid defensively this year and that’s a credit to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. They get an excellent pass rush from Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette, while middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is the team’s best tackler. Strong safety Kenny Vaccaro is a hard hitter in the secondary who also is a solid asset in pass coverage.The Jets have played solid defense throughout the majority of the season, but that was not the case in Week Eight against the Bengals. Still, Rex Ryan is not about to take this game lightly, going up against his brother. The Jets are solid tacklers and the best may be inside linebacker David Harris, who leads the team in tackles. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has been beaten regularly this season.
- Special TeamsThe Saints have been reliable in their kickoff and punt coverage, but they would like to see Darren Sproles break free for a big return. Placekicker Garrett Hartley has been reliable most of the season, but he missed two attempts against Buffalo. Thomas Morstead can place the ball inside the 20.The Jets have been quite reliable in their kickoff and punt coverage. They signed Josh Cribbs to give their own return game an upgrade. While the jets got blown out in Cincinnati, placekicker Nick Folk was 3-of-3 on his FG attempts.
While the Jets have edges on defense and special teams, they are small. The Saints’ edges at quarterback and overall offense are much bigger and this game is likely to go in New Orleans’ favor unless the Saints have a flat effort. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor