New Orleans Saints (0-1) at New York Giants (1-0)
SERIES HISTORY: 29th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 15-13. Saints coach Sean Payton has been a nemesis for the team he once worked for and helped reach Super Bowl XXXV. He is 4-0 against the Giants, the latest victory coming in a wild 52-49 win in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last Nov. 1. In that one, Drew Brees equaled the NFL record with seven scoring passes and Eli Manning tossed six while combining for 855 passing yards before Kai Forbath won it with a 50-yard field goal on the game's final play. The Saints have won five of the past seven matchups. One of those two Saints losses was a 52-27 setback in MetLife Stadium in 2012 when Payton was serving a one-year bounty suspension.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Giants are one of four teams that failed to record a sack or have an interception in Week 1, which means the Saints will probably try to do what they do best after Drew Brees piled up 423 passing yards and threw for four TDs in a 35-34 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The key was that the offensive line, which struggled in the preseason, had a solid day against the Raiders and allowed just one sack. If the Saints can protect Brees against the Giants, he should be able to stretch the field with wideouts Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks. They combined for 15 receptions and 315 yards with three TDs against the Raiders and will be key, along with rookie Michael Thomas. That could open things up for Mark Ingram and a running game that produced 88 yards and a 4.0 average against the Raiders, which could come in handy against the Giants.
Defensively, the Saints will be under the gun against Eli Manning and the receiving duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz. The Saints held their own for 2.5 quarters in the setback to the Raiders, but struggled when cornerback Delvin Breaux went out with a fractured fibula. Manning had a huge game in his team's 52-49 loss to New Orleans and another could be in the offing if the Saints don't find a way to generate a pass rush. Like the Giants, the Saints had no sacks or interceptions in the loss to the Raiders and affecting Manning in some fashion will be necessary to keep pressure off their three young, inexperienced cornerbacks -- P.J. Williams, Ken Crawley and De'Vante Harris
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants Receivers vs. Saints Cornerbacks. The Saints suffered a huge blow in their defensive secondary when cornerback Delvin Breaux broke his fibula in last week's game. His departure left the Saints with a pair of rookies, Ken Crawley and De'Vante Harris, to hold down the fort. The Giants passing game has to be licking its chops over that fact, as last week, the trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard combined for 150 yards on 11 catches with two touchdowns. If quarterback Eli Manning gets time in the pocket to step up, the Giants could be looking at reviving the deep passing game for this week.
--Saints RB Mark Ingram vs. Giants front seven. The Saints rushed for 88 yards and a 4.0 average in last week's setback to the Raiders, but doing a little more against the Giants with Ingram and backups Tim Hightower and Travaris Cadet could complement the league's No. 1 passing attack
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Giants S Landon Collins: Last week Collins, a second-year pro, was a jack-of-all-trades for the Giants, who lined him up at free safety, strong safety, linebacker and, on two occasions, down in the slot. In moving Collins around, they were able to successfully disguise their coverages which threw the Cowboys off their game. Don't be surprised if the Giants toss in a few more wrinkles involving Collins. It's hard to fool Saints QB Drew Brees, so this chess match could be interesting.
INJURY REPORT: New Orleans -- Out: CB Delvin Breaux (fibula), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), TE Josh Hill (ankle). Questionable: T Terron Armstead (quadricep). New York -- Out: DT Robert Thomas (illness). Questionable: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder).
FAST FACTS: Brees had 423 pass yards, 4 TDs, 131.3 rating last week. That was his 14th career 400-yard pass game, tying Peyton Manning for most in NFL history. Brees threw 98-yard TD pass to WR Brandid Cooks, who recorded career-high 143 receiving yards with 2 TDs. . . .WR Willie Snead had 9 catches for 172 yards, 1 TD. . . . Giants QB Eli Manning threw 200 interceptions since he took over as the starting job in 2004. He has thrown 100 picks on the road and 100 at home. In past 3 vs. NOS, Manning has 1,015 passing yards (338.3 per game) with 12 TDs for 116.4 rating . . .Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul shoots for third straight game against Saints with at least six tackles.
PREDICTION: It was a hot Brees that blew through the Raiders last week in New Orleans, only to lose in the last minute. On the road with an injured secondary, Brees might not be able to keep up in a shootout, but it could be close.
OUR PICK: Giants. 35-28.