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New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction

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The Giants hold a one-game lead over Philadelphia and Washington for first place in the NFC East. Considering how tight the division race is, this game carries a lot of weight for New York. Despite playing an opponent outside of the division, it is still against a conference foe. This tight divisional race could end up being decided based on which team has the most victories within the NFC.

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The Saints have rebounded from their 0-3 start by winning three of the last four games. If they have any hope of claiming one of the two wild card spots, a win this Sunday is a must. A head-to-head victory against a team with whom they might possibly be tied in the conference standings is essential.

New York leads the overall series record, 15-12. However, regarding games played in New Orleans, the Giants trail 3-8. They have not won in the Superdome since Dec. 20, 1993.

New York at New Orleans

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV: FOX

Spread: Saints -3.5

Three Things to Watch

1.  Pressuring Eli Manning?   

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With a secondary short on professional experience and overall quality, the Saints' front seven must put constant pressure on the opposing quarterback. On the season, New Orleans has sacked opposing quarterbacks 16 times. In New Orleans' three victories, the team is averaging four sacks per game.

In contrast, Manning has only been sacked nine times in seven games. Opponents have only managed to sack him as many as three times in a game just once thus far.

2.  Increasingly generous Giant defense giving away the game?

The Giants have allowed 401.7 yards per game.  In their three losses, they have given up at least that amount. When they have held an opponent under that average, they won all three games. When the Saints' offense has been held under that figure, New Orleans has gone just 1-3.

The Giants are allowing 113.4 rushing yards per game. However, they have only allowed three opponents to go over the century mark. Those have occurred in the last three games. Last week, the Cowboys gashed New York's defense for 233 yards on the ground. The Giants have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns, including four in each of their past two games. 

3. Saints' run versus pass balance

The Saints need to have a semblance of a running game to keep the Giants off-balance. If not, New York will blitz Drew Brees and drop its safeties into coverage on every play. The number of passing plays as opposed to running must be even or very close. When the Saints' number of passes has exceeded the number of rushing attempts by 10 or more the Saints are 1-3.  Of the four games when the Saints have not gained at least 100 yards on the ground, they have lost three of those.

Final Analysis

The Giants need to win to remain ahead of the Eagles and Redskins in a tight NFC East. The Saints need a victory to even their record at .500. These situations should spur both teams into a hard-fought contest. Viewers will see a game that remains a nail-biter until the final minute. Overtime will probably be needed to break a tie at the end of regulation. The Dome-field advantage will nudge this one into the win column for the Black and Gold.

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Prediction: Saints 26, Giants 20

— Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to AthlonSports.com, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.