Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 6 Pick: Marquee Game

Well, I hoped it wouldn't come to this, but the only true Marquee Game for Week 6 is one I hate to have to pick, and that is:

New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints

Over/Under: 47
Line: Saints by 3

My Thoughts:
In my mind, 3 points is a perfect line for this game, as it's usually what's given to represent home field advantage. A line of 3 points really gives the impression of an even match up, which is a very fair assessment of this game. The is the only game this week featuring a pair of 5-0 teams, which guarantees it as the Marquee game of Week 6.

I really don't think I can find a more even match up of two teams on the schedule this week, possibly even so far this season. Both teams have offenses that are popping, and both have stout defenses that are making impact plays. I dread the idea of picking Giants games, as I can't be completely confident I can take my own feelings out of the prediction. Nonetheless, this is a great game to have to write about.

From the offensive perspective, the Saints have been extremely impressive through 5 weeks. When Drew Brees isn't throwing a million touchdowns, they have been able to run the ball with surprising effectiveness. Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell have been great, and Reggie Bush has done his little change-of-pace, receiver-out-of-the-backfield thing with a decent degree of success. For the Giants, this has sure looked like a breakout year for Eli Manning. Through 4 1/2 games (less, really, since he came out against the Chiefs with his injury), he's completing 64.4% of his passes for 1212 yards and 10 TDs. His young "question-mark" receivers have certainly answered the call, and performed spectacularly. Steve Smith leads the league in Receptions, Receiving Yards, and is tied for the lead in TDs. Not bad, brother. The running game still hasn't looked quite right, but they've done it plenty well thus far.

Defensively, these certainly don't look like the New Orleans Saints. Gregg Williams has completely transformed this unit, and Darren Sharper is having an incredible year. That will definitely be a problem for the Giants, as Sharper has historically eaten Eli Manning alive. I expect him to have at least one INT, and he may (again) return it for a TD. The Saints have blitzed more this year, and are getting good pressure on the quarterback. As usual, they are a little weak at corner, but they've schemed around it to be effective.

The New York Giants defense, similarly, has been on fire in recent weeks. The pass rush has awoken with tremendous ferocity, racking up 11 sacks in the last 2 weeks. Backup left tackle will have his hands full with Osi Umenyiora, regardless of his recovery from knee surgery. I imagine the Giants won't blitz as much this week, as they will be spread out by the Saints explosive offense. The key, however, will be getting pressure on Drew Brees, and our characteristically tall defensive linemen getting their hands in his face, batting balls or just getting sacks. New York has done a very good job stopping the run, and having Chase Blackburn at WLB will help that quite a bit. The battle between Giants defense against Saints offense should be fun to watch.

I expect this to be a very good fundamental game, reasonably high scoring, and competitive throughout. Fans of high-level football should not miss this one. I'm a lifelong Giants fan, so it breaks my heart, but I think the Saints take this one at home thanks to Darren Sharper's continued heroics against Eli Manning. I even made it through the whole post without mentioning Jeremy Shockey (he'll have a touchdown). Oops...

Saints 31
Giants 28

~Freeze (Dear God, please let me get this one wrong...but I gotta pick a Marquee Game, and I gotta trust my gut!)

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