Saints Offense vs. Washington Defense
Saints Team Offense
- Total offense: 421.7 yards per game (1st in NFL)
- Scoring offense: 26.8 points per game (6th)
- Pass offense: 326.7 yards per game (2nd)
- Rush offense: 95.0 yards per game (25th)
Washington Team Defense
- Total defense: 372.9 yards allowed per game (21st in NFL)
- Scoring defense: 24.4 points per game (17th)
- Pass defense: 240.4 yards per game (10th)
- Rush defense: 132.5 yards per game (29th)
The Saints offensive line will have to protect Drew Brees. They did a much better job during their winning streak than they did earlier in the season when he was constantly getting crushed, but they regressed a bit last week and it costed them. Washington does not pose a gigantic threat as a pass rush, having recorded just 13 sacks this year. Ryan Kerrigan is their best rusher, but he has just 3.5 sacks. The big question is whether or not DeAngelo Hall will be able to suit up. He has not played since the team’s Week 3 game against the New York Giants, having missed time with a toe injury. He is listed as questionable, but says that he expects to play. Willie Snead, Brandin Cooks, and Ben Watson will almost surely remain Brees’ top targets, with Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawananui becoming a factor in the red zone. C.J. Spiller could see more snaps in passing situations due to Washington’s struggles with getting to the quarterback. Mark Ingram stayed on the field for most passing situations last week, due to Sean Payton’s lack of concrete trust for Spiller’s pass blocking. Speaking of pass protection, Terron Armstead is questionable to play with a knee injury, which would be a big loss. Andrus Peat is fully recovered from the knee injury he sustained shortly in to his first NFL start against the Atlanta Falcons, so he would be Armstead’s replacement.
Having been relatively quiet since his 100+ yard outburst against the Indianapolis Colts, Ingram faces a defense that has struggled to stop the run. Free safety Dashon Goldson leads the team with 66 tackles, while Keenan Robinson follows behind with 56 from his inside linebacker position. Being able to run the ball is always essential when playing on the road, so Payton will surely like to establish a rushing attack early on.
Saints Defense vs. Washington Offense
Saints Team Defense
- Total defense: 414.8 yards allowed per game (31st in NFL)
- Scoring defense: 29.8 points per game (31st)
- Pass defense: 292.2 yards per game (30th)
- Rush defense: 122.6 yards per game (25th)
Washington Team Offense
- Total offense: 329.0 yards per game (29th)
- Scoring offense: 19.8 points per game (28th)
- Pass offense: 237.8 yards per game (20th)
- Rush offense: 91.3 yards per game (27th)
There is no possible explanation for why Rob Ryan’s unit could not find a way to get anywhere near Marcus Mariota last week. Not only were the Tennessee Titans allowing four sacks a game to opponents, but Mariota was in his first game back after missing two contests with a sprained knee, leaving him with less mobility than usual. He did not even have to use his mobility, though, because the Saints did not come close to him all day. Hau’oli Kikaha looks set to return from his ankle injury, so he and Cam Jordan will need to do what they can to force pressure on Kirk Cousins. That’s easier said than done, though, because Washington has only allowed nine sacks this year. That is the least in the NFL. Cousins will likely target three of the same guys on majority of his throws, as well. Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed are atop the team in receiving, but DeSean Jackson is back for his second game returning from a hamstring injury that he sustained in the team’s first game of the season. All reports say that Jackson looked much more like his old self in practice this week, which means his speed is a big threat. It will be interesting to see what Ryan chooses to do with Brandon Browner, who leads the NFL with 17 penalties this year. For comparison, the most penalties ever recorded by a single player in one season under Sean Payton was 12. With seven games left, Browner will likely double that and then some.
Having really struggled to slow down opposing running backs, the Saints catch a break against a team that is ranked even lower in the rushing category on the other side of the ball. Both Alfred Morris and Matt Jones have struggled to get much going, averaging 3.3 and 3.7 yards per carry, respectively. Rookie Stephone Anthony leads the team with 64 tackles and 5 tackles for a loss, while Kenny Vaccaro has bounced back from his shaky sophomore campaign to be a solid contributor in the tackling department. His 59 tackles follow directly behind the rookie.
This team has been so incredibly tough to predict this season. I mentioned on Twitter following last week’s loss that the one thing you can count on from a Sean Payton team is that they will not give up. They will go on stretches of four straight losses, but they bounce right back with at least two or three wins. Just when you think they are done, they prove you wrong. So, one would think it is easy to believe that his talent as a motivator would boost his guys to be able to bounce back from last week’s tough loss, but at the same time, they are famous for losing games that they are universally expected to win. Aside from the game in Philadelphia, this team has actually played better than past seasons on the road this year. Yes, they are 1-3, but the games against Arizona and Carolina were expected losses that they were one drive away from winning. I believe they can go win this one, but I am finished with expecting a wide margin of victory. Let’s hope I am right, eh?
Prediction: Saints-27, Redskins-26
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