coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
On 10/28/2013 04:18 PM in NFL

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets: Preview and Pick

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets: Preview and Pick

The New Orleans Saints continued their dominate start to the season with a blowout win over the Buffalo Bills as quarterback Drew Brees had a banner day. The Saints looked great, but their opponent in week nine, the New York Jets did not as they played their worst game of the season. The Jets were trounced by the Cincinnati Bengals and left with their heads hanging low. They won’t have much time to recover against the high flying Saints this week.

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets Odds

The NFL opening point spread for this game is interesting as the Saints opened up as (-3.5) point favorites against the Jets. However, after the horrible performance by the Jets, the public is hammering the Saints as a whopping 99 percent of the early wagering is on the Saints. This has caused a huge shift in the line and the Saints are now listed at (-5.5) point favorites at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

The Saints are off a banner day offensively, but they still have some injury concerns. Jimmy Graham caught two touchdowns Sunday but was targeted a season-low three times, his second fewest in a game in the last three seasons. Graham caught two touchdowns in the red zone for the fourth time in his career, tied for the fourth-most such games since he entered the NFL in 2010. The Jets will go after Brees as the Saints tray and protect their best player better than they did against the Bills.

Buffalo sacked Brees four times, with defensive end Mario Williams getting his 11th sack of the season, and former LSU standout Kyle Williams was in on two sacks. Geno Smith will have to get better. Smith's average passes traveled 4.9 yards downfield Sunday, the shortest in a game of his career. The Jets will need a big rebound if they hope to beat the high flying Saints.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveals that this may not be an easy win for the Saints. New Orleans is 4-1 straight up in their last 5 games when playing on the road against NY Jets and 6-1 straight up in its last 7 games, but they are just 2-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 6 games on the road. The total has gone under in 4 of New Orleans's last 5 games when playing NY Jets so this could be a low scoring game.

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
10/29/2013 02:58 PM

It hasn't taken long for the New Orleans Saints defense to shed its reputation as a laughing stock of the NFL.

One season after giving up a league-record 7,042 yards, the Saints are now among the leaders of several key defensive rankings — and providing their share of highlights in the form of sacks and turnovers.

On Monday, following a 35-17 win over Buffalo, Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton said he wasn't surprised the Saints (6-1) held six of their first seven opponents to 18 or fewer points. Still, he understood why outside observers might not have foreseen such improvement under new coordinator Rob Ryan.

"When you have the league's worst defense a year ago and you have the same players, people think that those players that were playing in that scheme were terrible," Lofton said. "So you get a new defensive coordinator that comes in and plays to the strengths of players in this locker room, and guys are playing out there confident, playing fast ... like it's a whole different team."

Heading into their Week 9 visit to the New York Jets, the Saints rank fourth in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up 17.1 points per game. New Orleans has forced 15 turnovers, nine on interceptions and six on fumbles, and their net turnover differential of plus-eight ranks third. Their 24 sacks rank sixth, tied with New England.

"It's a highly motivated group," said Ryan, who arrived in New Orleans after being fired as Dallas' defensive coordinator last winter. "We all have egg on our face from last season and take that seriously. We want to be a hell of a lot better than what people think we are, so we're just working hard to be a little tiny part of our success."

Ever since head coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints have been known primarily for their prolific offense. Even when they won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, helped by an opportunistic defense which created game-changing turnovers, the Saints still ranked 25th in yards allowed.

This season, New Orleans is a respectable 12th (332.4 yards allowed per game), taking pressure off a New Orleans offense that averages 396 yards and 28 points.

Payton watched the Saints' hapless 2012 defense from afar because he was suspended in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation. When he returned, he replaced defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo with Ryan, who installed a new 3-4 scheme. Payton also urged his staff to emphasize what they could do on offense and special teams to make it easier on the defense.

Payton calls it "complementary football." Examples include offensive series which maximizes time of possession, giving the defense more rest and time to make needed adjustments. It includes sound kick coverage which improves field position.

"That scoring defense statistic, there's a lot that goes into it," Payton said. "Definitely, it's encouraging. We're playing better. The players are playing with more confidence."

When the regular season began, the Saints couldn't be sure how their defense would fare. Not only was the scheme new, but key players went down with season-ending injuries, including projected starting outside linebackers Will Smith and Victor Butler.

So the Saints turned to some hungry young players, such as outside linebacker Junior Galette (four sacks), defensive ends Cameron Jordan (six sacks) and Glenn Foster (two sacks), and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (three tackles for losses).

"We're all buying into rushing the passer as a unit instead of individuals and communicating well as a defensive line," said Foster, an undrafted rookie. "That's the biggest thing, just communication."

Meanwhile, new cornerback Keenan Lewis, acquired in free agency, has three interceptions. Hard-hitting safety Kenny Vaccaro, this year's first-round draft choice, has made plays all over the field.

Saints right tackle Zach Strief said the improved defense has given Payton more flexibility in his offensive play-calling. Sometimes it might mean trying to convert a fourth-and-short on the Saints' side of the field, confident that the defense will mitigate the damage should the play fail. Other times, it means calling clock-eating plays to protect a lead.

"It certainly lets you take some more chances," Strief said. "At the same time, late in some of these games, it gives you a chance to be a little more conservative and protect the ball a little bit better because you don't feel like you're up 17 points and you've got to get another" score.

coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
10/30/2013 11:45 AM

Following his eye-opening performance in the New Orleans Saints' 35-17 win over the Buffalo Bills, rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills should unquestionably have a much bigger role in the Saints offense.

The fifth-round draft choice out of Oklahoma enjoyed a breakout game against the Bills on Sunday, as he reeled in three catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. This followed an impressive outing against New England in the previous game, when he caught three balls for 64 yards and made a spectacular go-ahead touchdown grab with just over three minutes left in the game.

Against Buffalo, Stills electrified the home crowd at the Superdome, as both of his touchdowns came on long pass plays of 69 and 42 yards. He was only targeted four times in the game, however, and coach Sean Payton should see to it that Stills is more involved in the Saints' offensive game plan.

Engineered by Payton and masterfully executed by quarterback Drew Brees, the New Orleans offense is among the NFL's elite units. The Saints' offensive success is predicated on spreading the ball around to a host of talented playmakers.

Any rundown of New Orleans' offensive weapons begins with tight end Jimmy Graham, who ranks among the NFL's top receivers. There's also explosive all-purpose back Darren Sproles, who's a threat to score any time he touches the ball.

On the outside is 6'4" wide receiver Marques Colston, who has a clearly defined role in Payton's offense as a possession receiver. Manning the other receiver spot is Lance Moore, who has reliable hands as well as strong chemistry with Brees.

What New Orleans lacks, however, is a speedy deep threat. The 5'9" Moore, while proven, is rather short for an outside receiver and also lacks great speed.

Stills, on the other hand, not only has great speed, but has adequate height at 6'0". He possesses the necessary attributes to emerge as the next big-name playmaker in the Saints offense, but he needs more targets.

Seven games into the season, Stills has 13 catches for 327 yards, which is certainly respectable for a rookie. These numbers serve as evidence, however, that for a player who has three touchdowns in the last two games, he's been used rather sparingly this season.

Nearly half of his catches, a majority of his yards and all of his touchdowns came in the last two contests. On the heels of his impressive showing against the Patriots, Stills received more looks from Brees against Buffalo and rightfully so.

That being said, he deserves more.

His speed and athleticism simply cannot be taught, and his ability to stretch the field should be utilized to the fullest extent.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Payton will orchestrate a suitable role for Stills in the New Orleans offense in the coming weeks. An added weapon will take pressure off Graham and Colston, thus making them even more effective as receivers.

In addition, a legitimate deep threat will likely do wonders for the New Orleans running game, which has struggled this season. With Stills flying downfield and Brees giving him frequent looks, opposing safeties will be on their heels a bit more and won't commit as quickly to stopping the run.

With Graham and Colston controlling the middle of the field, Moore perfecting short out routes to the sidelines and Sproles slipping out the backfield, Brees has a host of dynamic playmakers to distribute the ball to.

But Kenny Stills provides the deep threat that could transform the already-formidable New Orleans offense into an unstoppable juggernaut.

The time is now for the Saints to increase Stills' role and take their offense to the next level.

coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
10/31/2013 02:56 PM

Under new coordinator Rob Ryan, the New Orleans Saints' vastly improved defense has made things miserable for many opposing offenses.

Ryan will try to ensure that misery extends to his twin brother's team as the Saints visit the New York Jets on Sunday.

The Saints have been known for a high-powered offense, leading the league in total yardage over the last five seasons. But they've also ranked second-to-last in yards allowed over the same span and gave up a league-record 7,042 last season. Even the 2009 squad that won the franchise's lone Super Bowl finished 25th in total defense.

This year, however, New Orleans (6-1) has discovered a much better balance. Not only do the Saints rank among the league leaders in scoring (28.0 points per game), they're also among the best in terms of points allowed (17.1).

"When you have the league's worst defense a year ago and you have the same players, people think that those players that were playing in that scheme were terrible," said linebacker Curtis Lofton, who leads the team with 55 total tackles. "So you get a new defensive coordinator that comes in and plays to the strengths of players in this locker room, and guys are playing out there confident, playing fast ... like it's a whole different team."

Fired by Dallas after last season, Ryan has installed a 3-4 scheme focused on getting to the quarterback and forcing mistakes. The Saints are fourth in the NFL with a plus-eight turnover differential and lead the NFC with 3.4 sacks per game.

That could spell trouble for Jets signal-caller Geno Smith, who has been sacked 28 times, trailing only Miami's Ryan Tannehill (32). Smith's 13 interceptions are the league's third-most.

"It's a highly motivated group," said Ryan, 0-4 against New York coach Rex Ryan in matchups with both as either coordinators or head coaches.

"We all have egg on our face from last season and take that seriously. We want to be a hell of a lot better than what people think we are, so we're just working hard to be a little tiny part of our success."

Rex Ryan so badly wanted to move forward from the Jets' embarrassing 49-9 loss to Cincinnati last week that he chose to skip film review with the team on Monday.

"I thought it would be more beneficial just to move on to New Orleans, get a start on them, and that's exactly what we did," he said.

New York (4-4) has alternated wins and losses each week, one game shy of tying the 2005 New England Patriots for the most alternating wins and losses to start a season.

Smith's erratic play has been one of the biggest reasons for that inconsistency. He's compiled a 93.7 passer rating with seven TDs and four picks in four wins, compared to a 51.7 rating with one TD and nine interceptions in four losses.

Cincinnati returned both of his interceptions for scores last Sunday and he recorded a season-low 5.3 yards per attempt.

"I'm the type of guy that's always going to put it behind me because you can't get it back," said Smith, who has won both of his starts against NFC teams. "It's come and gone. As bad as I want to take some of those throws back, to have some of those plays back, you can't get them back."

For the Saints, Drew Brees is again one of the league's elite quarterbacks, leading the NFC in passer rating (109.2) and touchdown passes (19) while ranking second in yards (2,290). However, he's been subpar in four career starts against the Jets, going 2-2 with three TDs and five interceptions.

But Brees has recently enjoyed the development of a new weapon in rookie Kenny Stills, who has caught six passes for 193 yards and three TDs in his last two games.

New York proved susceptible to another relatively unknown receiver last week, letting Marvin Jones score four times on eight catches with 122 yards for Cincinnati.

The Saints own a 6-5 series edge with a 24-10 home win in the most recent matchup Oct. 4, 2009.

coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
11/01/2013 03:25 PM

The New York Jets head into their Week 9 clash with the New Orleans Saints at a very interesting point in their season. They are 4-4 through the first half, and they have exceeded every preseason expectation. The Jets are right in the middle of the playoff race, and they have a favorable schedule down the stretch.

However, the Jets just got destroyed 49-9 by the Cincinnati Bengals, and now they must play the Saints, one of the best teams in the NFL. A loss like last week’s can be damaging to a team’s confidence, especially a team as young as the Jets. The Jets’ offense was once again completely ineffective, and they face a huge challenge in the much improved Saints’ defense.

The Saints’ defensive coordinator is Rob Ryan, brother of Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan. Rob uses the same attacking principles that Rex does, and the Saints rank 10th in the NFL in sacks and are tied for 9th in takeaways. This doesn’t bode well for the Jets, who rank 30th in sacks allowed and are tied for 28th in giveaways.

It is for this reason that the Jets have to be able to get their run game going on Sunday. The Jets are 13th in the league in rush offense and the Saints are 19th in run defense, so this isn’t a huge advantage. However, it is a much better matchup for the Jets than allowing Geno Smith to drop back 30+ times and face the Saint’s pass rush.

The run game was a disaster against the Bengals (to be fair, so was everything else), with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell combing for a pathetic 30 yards on 16 carries. However, the run game was key in several of the Jets’ wins this season, including their upset of the New England Patriots. That game should be the blueprint for the Jets’ attack in this one, as a strong rushing attack will allow them to control the ball and the clock while keeping Drew Brees on the sideline.

Ivory is facing the team that he played the first three years of his career for, and although he has downplayed that this week, he has to be extra motivated. The Jets need to feed him and Powell the ball as much as they as possible and try to overpower the Saints. Nick Mangold, Willie Colon and Austin Howard make a up powerful right side of the line that is excellent in the run game. The Jets need to let these three linemen lead the way, and they could find quite a bit of success running behind them.

The Jets can’t put this game on Smith’s shoulders, because the Saints’ defense runs the type of aggressive, blitzing scheme that inexperienced quarterbacks struggle with. Smith is also without Santonio Holmes and Jeff Cumberland for this game, further hampering the passing attack. Marty Mornhinweg has shown that he is will to stick with the run this season, and he needs to do the same thing on Sunday. The path to success for the Jets is on the ground, and Ivory and Powell must deliver

coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
11/01/2013 03:30 PM

Marty Mornhinweg sat down for his weekly news conference and was all set to open with a review of the New York Jets’ last game.

Without saying a word about the 49-9 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, the offensive coordinator kept a straight face.

“All right,” Mornhinweg deadpanned Thursday, “let’s get to New Orleans.”

When you have a loss that ugly, not much needs to be said. It was brutal, and Mornhinweg knows it. Coach Rex Ryan even opted out of the usual team film session Monday so the Jets could move on quickly.

“Look, we took some steps backward,” Mornhinweg said. “Now, we’ve got to take some steps forward. It’s just that simple. I’ve got to do a better job, period, putting the guys in a little bit better spots.”

The Jets put up 240 total yards of offense against the Bengals, and rookie Geno Smith was 20 of 30 for 159 yards and two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns.

Smith and the offense have been a roller coaster through the first eight games, a consistent inconsistency that has led to a 4-4 record. The Jets have the 17th-ranked overall offense, which includes being the No. 13 rushing team and 22nd passing.

“We’ve played probably some decent, pretty good, solid offensive football and then we’ve played some really poor offensive football,” Mornhinweg said. “And then we’ve come back and played some good, solid football. So, we’re looking for that good, solid offensive football really consistently.

“It seems like we’ve been up and down and up and down, so there you go.”

Mornhinweg pointed the finger at himself, adding that he’s not “beating myself up” about the way the offense performed last week. But he also acknowledged that the game got away quickly as the Bengals jumped to a 14-0 lead and were ahead 28-6 by halftime.

“We’ve just got to do a better job, especially at the start of the game, because as you know we were completely out of the plan very quickly,” Mornhinweg said.

The Jets haven’t lost – or won – consecutive games this season, and now they face one of the NFL’s toughest defenses in the New Orleans Saints.

They’re the 12th-ranked defense, and they disrupt quarterbacks on a regular basis. The Saints have 24 sacks, including at least one by 12 players. They also have nine interceptions and 10 forced fumbles, six of which they’ve recovered.

“Yeah, we’ve got to protect the ball,” Smith said. “I’ve got to protect the ball. They have caused a few turnovers and that’s kind of the mentality of the defense. They try to throw a lot at you and get you out of rhythm, get you to rush some things. So, just staying patient, knowing where I’m going with the ball and just being sharp.”

That’s been much easier said than done for Smith. He has eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions, a total that ranks third in the NFL and first in the AFC. Smith has also been sacked 28 times, a total that is second in the NFL only to the 32 by Miami’s Ryan Tannehill.

Some of the sacks have come because of Smith’s tendency to sometimes hold onto the ball a bit too long, but there have also been occasional breakdowns on the offensive line. He was sacked three times by Cincinnati on Sunday before being replaced by Matt Simms.

“I know we’re way better than that,” right guard Willie Colon said of the team’s performance. “I know that we’re capable of playing a lot better and doing a lot better.”

Smith has been saying that of himself ever since his first practice with the Jets. He’s a tantalizing talent: a big-armed quarterback who can also make plays with his legs. Smith also is the first rookie since the merger in 1970 to lead a winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime four times in his first seven games.

But, there have also been the handfuls of mistakes, including the three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the last two games. Five of his 13 interceptions have come in the fourth quarter, and Smith has just one game in which he hasn’t had a turnover.

“I do understand that there’s lots to learn, but I know what I’m capable of,” Smith said. “For me, it’s just about sticking to it, just continuing to work hard, staying level-headed. That comes naturally. So, (I’m) just going to stick to my guns, just work hard and try and improve every single day.”

Smith is ready to move on from a bad performance against the Bengals.

“I’m the type of guy that’s always going to put it behind me because you can’t get it back,” he said this week. “It’s come and gone. As bad as I want to take some of those throws back, to have some of those plays back, you can’t get them back.”

Mornhinweg has been mostly encouraged by the quarterback despite the mistakes. Part of it has been Smith’s refusal to blame anyone other than himself for his struggles. There’s also his motivation to be better – and make the offense better in the process.

“Very few days go by,” Mornhinweg said, “where I’m not impressed with the man.”

coleryan Posts:11963 Followers:19
11/02/2013 11:33 AM

A slew of Saints, including tight end Jimmy Graham (foot) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (concussion, back), are questionable.

The Jets could be without tight end Jeff Cumberland, who has yet to be cleared after a concussion. Guard Willie Colon (calf), running back Alex Green (hamstring) and center Nick Mangold (ribs) are also listed as questionable.