Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 08, 2018 at 1:32 am.


–QB Drew Brees leads the NFL in completion percentage (76.3), passer rating (120.6) and third-down passer rating (120.9).

–DE Marcus Davenport (toe) who missed last week’s game and is expected to miss at least a couple more games, did not practice Wednesday.

–WR Cameron Meredith (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

–CB P.J. Williams (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.

–G Larry Warford (not injury related) did not practice Wednesday.

–C Max Unger (knee) was limited Wednesday.

–G Andrus Peat (hip) was limited Wednesday.

–T Ryan Ramczyk (knee) was limited Wednesday.

–T Terron Armstead (knee) was limited as has become the Wednesday norm.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: RB Alvin Kamara is Drew Brees’ most significant weapon. He is coming off his third three-touchdown game of the season as he is the primary option in the running game and the second option in the passing game. His value was demonstrated last week against the Rams on a key third down with the Saints clinging to a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter. The Rams double-teamed Kamara, leaving Michael Thomas one-on-one and he got free for a 72-yard touchdown that sealed the victory. Whenever Kamara is in the game, he’s a significant factor even when he doesn’t touch the football.
GAME PLAN: The Saints have had a pretty consistent formula and it has been working well during their seven-game winning streak. They have been balanced on offense, utilizing Kamara and Mark Ingram II in the running game and mostly Kamara and Michael Thomas in the passing game. The line has allowed Drew Brees to be sacked an NFL-low nine times in eight games and that has helped him throw just one interception. In an aberration, Brees needed to pass for just 120 yards to beat Minnesota two weeks ago, but he passed for more than 300 in a win against the Rams last week. This game should be closer to the last one because of the Bengals’ weakness in pass defense.

The defense won’t have to contend with Cincinnati’s best wide receiver, A.J. Green, so it will be focused on containing running back Joe Mixon and forcing quarterback Andy Dalton to lean on his short-handed receivers. The Saints continue to lead the NFL in run defense and rank near the bottom of the league in pass defense. But sacks and takeaways have mitigated the shortcomings in the pass defense in recent games.

–Saints run defense vs. Bengals RB Joe Mixon. The Saints did a good job of containing Rams RB Todd Gurley II, the NFL’s leading rusher, last week. Mixon doesn’t present as big a challenge, but he is coming off a 123-yard, two-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay before the bye last week. The Bengals can make things easier for Andy Dalton and limit Drew Brees’ opportunities if Mixon can find running room consistently and keep the chains moving against the NFL’s top run defense.

–Saints WRs vs. Bengals pass defense. Regardless of how much Dez Bryant plays, or even if he doesn’t, this matchup will have a big impact on the game. Saints WR Michael Thomas is coming off a record-setting performance and he has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL all season. The Bengals rank last in the NFL in pass defense and the Saints rank seventh in passing offense even though their lack of depth at wide receiver led them to bring in Bryant. If Cincinnati can’t slow down Brees and Thomas they will have a difficult time keeping up in what could turn into a very high-scoring game.