Still smarting from a shock defeat at the hands of New England, the Saints will not let up throughout all four quarters against New York in Sunday's early game from the NFL...
"Once the Saints are in front you can expect the Jets to finally go aerial, but the consequences could be disastrous with New York's quarterback having dished up not one but two pick-sixes for the Bengals last week in a similar situation."
New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets
Start Time: Sunday, 18:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2
(6-1) New Orleans really should be (7-0). How they lost to the New England Patriots, having looked home and hosed with just a handful of seconds left on the clock, is still difficult to believe. In the final few moments of that game, New Orleans hesitated. They were lost, and the game soon followed, in one last-gasp moment of Tom Brady brilliance. But the significance of that defeat has not been wasted. In the bye week that followed, New Orleans had time to reflect and come to realise what many of us already knew, which is that the Saints' best form of defence is attack.
And so it was, that after a week's rest, New Orleans got back to doing what they do best, as they set about skinning the Buffalo Bills. Drew Brees threw for 332 yards, Pierre Thomas outperformed Buffalo's Fred Jackson to be the games's top rusher, and Kenny Stills finally announced himself as a big-time NFL player, by hauling in two touchdowns and 129 yards receiving. The 35-17 result saw New Orleans hit paydirt in all four quarters, as they showed no sign of easing-up close to the winning line on this occasion.
What we have before us now is a New Orleans side that, having been bitten once, is unlikely to ease off until it leads a game by at least two scores. And this is a factor we can take clear advantage of, with this game priced-up with the Jets getting a tantalising 6.5 points head start. Still smarting from the the New England result, I can't see any way the Saints will let this game get that close, especially given their clear advantage in terms of talent.
The Jets (4-4) will want to try keep this game tight and they'll do that by predominantly running the ball. But that's because they really don't have any other choice. Their rookie QB Geno Smith has had a baptism of fire in the NFL so far, throwing 13 interceptions and fumbling on six occasions in just eight games. He's also had lots of time on his backside to reflect on his woes, having been sacked 28 times, which makes him one of the top three most bullied quarterbacks in the league. In terms of yards gained, the Jets rank 22nd out of the 32 teams, but it's those turnovers that are the killer, with their young QB struggling to make the right decisions under some intense pressure, while getting little help from the Jets' crumbling offensive line.
Smith's prospects don't look good when up against a New Orleans secondary that ranks 10th in the league against the pass. The problem for New York though is that the alternative isn't much better. Their running backs are pedestrian at best, with Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory both averaging less than four yards per carry. In all, the Jets' ground game has yielded only three touchdowns this season, and ranks in the bottom half of the league for yardage gained.
All the same, expect the Jets to go heavy on their running game in the first half, as they try to keep the score close. But against the Saints 19th-ranked rush defence, it's unlikely to bear too much fruit. New Orleans should get themselves into a clear lead thanks to having the league's third ranked passing offence, which averages 23 points and more than 300 yards on the road.
Once the Saints are in front you can expect the Jets to finally go aerial, but the consequences could be disastrous with New York's quarterback having dished up not one but two pick-sixes for the Bengals last week in a similar situation. And so the second half should see the game open up much more, with the Saints sure to keep the pedal to the metal until their safely out of sight.
New Orleans (-6.5) to beat Jets @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)
Highest scoring half to be second half @ 1.9520/21 or better once market gains liquidity
Fourth quarter to be highest scoring quarter @ 3.259/4 or better once market gains liquidity