Week 14: Saints-Giants preview

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

New Orleans at N.Y. Giants
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 715
*TV announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
*Keys to the game: The Saints' lone significant advantage is time. They have an extra three days to prepare following a Thursday night loss, while the Giants have a short week after their Monday night tilt with the Redskins. The first key for New Orleans is summoning enough emotion following a pair of losses that all but officially ended their playoff hopes. The Saints' offense has been far more efficient when the ground game plays a significant role. Pass protection has been spotty at times, and QB Drew Brees is coming off a five-interception game against Atlanta. With the Giants sporting a deep group of pass rushers, expect Brees to utilize TE Jimmy Graham and third-down RB Darren Sproles heavily. The Saints can't afford to stumble out of the gate offensively because their defense will be hard-pressed to get off the field. New Orleans has suffered from assignment breakdowns and poor tackling all season. The Giants have excellent playmakers, and WR Victor Cruz's playmaking ability after the catch will tax the Saints' secondary. The Saints have to find a way to back the Giants into long passing downs and produce a few turnovers.
*Matchup to watch - Saints front seven vs. Giants RB David Wilson: The Giants' first-round pick has flashed speed and elusiveness, and is playing a bigger role with Andre Brown injured. However, the Giants also want to avoid exposing his weakness in pass protection. It's a difficult balancing act because the Giants must give Wilson significant playing time to ease the pounding Ahmad Bradshaw's foot takes.
*Player spotlight - Saints RT Zach Strief: He returned after missing three games with a groin injury only to struggle against Atlanta. With three additional days to heal, the Saints have to hope Strief fares better against Justin Tuck.
*Fast facts: Brees is tied with Dan Marino for second-place in NFL history with 63 300-yard passing games. ... New Orleans has won the past four regular-season meetings.
This is a potential trap game for the Giants, coming on a short week sandwiched between big games against the Redskins and Falcons. But they find enough weaknesses in the Saints' defense to consistently keep the scoreboard moving in a high-scoring battle.
*Our pick: Giants 34-30