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Jacksonville Jaguars V. New Orleans Saints Game Preview: Breaking Down the Saints

September 28th, 2011 at 7:23 PM
By Brendan Sonnone

Who Dat nation heads east this week as the Jacksonville Jaguars host the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints (2-1) are coming off a comeback victory against the Houston Texans and have held up well against three playoff caliber teams (the Texans, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers) early this year. 

What exactly has attributed to the Saints' solid start? Jaguars 101 breaks down New Orleans' roster and how they stack up against the 1-2 Jaguars.

Offense

Quarterback Drew Brees is the leader of one of the league's most prolific offenses. The pinpoint passer has gotten off to a terrific start, throwing for 1,059 yards and nine touchdowns to two interceptions, while completing 70 percent of his passes. Brees is extremely accurate, reads defenses and quickly releases the ball as good as any other quarterback and can also make teams pay with a surprisingly strong arm. 

His receivers are far from dynamic but they bring enough to the table to feed off of Brees' incredible precision. Marques Colston, the team's No.1 option, has been out since suffering an injury in Week 1, but it looks like he'll be back against the Jaguars. Devery Henderson has done remarkably well in his place, logging 265 yards on 12 receptions. He is a pure burner. Robert Meachem is a very reliable backup and tight end Jimmy Graham has emerged as an extremely efficient target for Brees. 

The running game isn't quite as dynamic, but teams can't sleep on the Saints' backs. Rookie Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas form a nice one-two punch, while Darren Sproles is a dangerous option out of the backfield. 

New Orleans' offensive line is extremely strong and is led by guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks. 

What it means for Jacksonville: The Jaguars have been strong on defense this season but haven't had to face an offense as complete as this. Brees has scorched every defense has faced so far and the Saints might have too many options for the Jaguars to handle.


Defense

The Saints can rack up points on offense but the defense gives them up just as quickly. New Orleans allows 29.3 points per game, which is the third-worst average in the NFL. Teams have been able to pass at will against New Orleans, but that problem should be alleviated some by the return of starting cornerback Terry Porter, who missed the last two weeks with a calf injury.

His presence should help beef up a fairly talented secondary that includes cornerback Jabari Greer and safety Malcolm Jenkins, so it's odd that the Saints of struggled to defend the pass.

The Saints are strong up front though. They have three rock-solid run stuffers at defensive tackle in Aubrayo Franklin, Shaun Rogers and Sedrick Ellis. That's a real solid rotation and explains why New Orleans has one of the top run defenses in the NFL.  Defensive end Will Smith will return to a lineup this week and will upgrade a group of ends that include two solid sack artists in Junior Galette (2.5 sacks) and Turk McBride (2 sacks.) The Saints have 10 sacks this season, which is the fourth highest total in the NFL.

New Orleans has an adequate group of athletic but undersized linebackers, led by Jonathan Vilma in the middle. 

What it means for Jacksonville: Defense has been a weakness for the Saints but getting Smith and Porter back is big. The Jaguars will struggle to get a consistent run game going against this front four and will have to hope for a big game through the air with quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Tags: Drew Brees, Football, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Terry Porter, Will Smith

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