For their week six matchup, the New Orleans Saints will be traveling to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars. In this game, the Saints will be looking for their fourth straight win without the presence of Drew Brees.
Saints vs Jaguars: Keys For a Saints Win
Teddy Bridgewater has done a good job as the starter for the Saints not turning the ball over and essentially being a point guard. However, Jacksonville can get after the passer.
It will be huge for the offensive line to be able to protect him against this dangerous pass-rush.
To help the offensive line, expect Sean Payton to utilize the screen game. New Orleans has one of the best screen games in all of football, which is a great way to slow down a pass-rush.
A big factor in that screen game will be the health of Alvin Kamara. There’s a good chance Kamara will play, but he was added to the injury report on Thursday and was limited in practice with an ankle injury. That’s not something Saints fans want to hear, but if he is healthy enough to play, it’s obvious the difference he makes.
Limit the Run Game
The New Orleans defense has already shown they’re capable of doing that. They did a very good job against Ezekiel Elliott in the 12-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Now, they will have the test of doing it against Leonard Fournette.
Fournette is third in the NFL in rushing yards with 512 yards. If the Jaguars get him going on the ground, it makes things easier for Gardner Minshew.
Jacksonville also has a good offensive line, so the front seven is going to have to deal with a good offensive line, and a running back that’s tough to tackle.
It will be important for pass rushers like Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport to be disciplined. New Orleans has been great at getting to the passer, especially with those two and Trey Hendrickson. However, the pass-rushers have to be wary of the run game, because if they come off the ball too focused on getting to the quarterback, it’ll open up holes for Fournette.
Saints vs Jaguars: Keys Continued
Someone Else Step Up on the Outside
This has been an issue for a couple years now. Outside of Michael Thomas, the Saints don’t have a go-to guy on the outside. Kamara is the second leading receiver, but outside of him, there hasn’t been much production.
So far, New Orleans has been able to continue putting up points, outside of the Cowboys game, despite not having another real weapon on the outside.
Will Jalen Ramsey play this week? All signs are pointing yo yes. If that’s the case, someone outside of Thomas will need to step up. Thomas usually puts up his numbers regardless, but Ramsey is a tough guy to have a big game against.
This has seemed nearly impossible to do so far this season. However, New Orleans is good at wreaking havoc upfront. If the front seven can slow down the running game and put Minshew in obvious passing downs, they might be able to rattle him.
So far, Minshew only has one interception, but this is an opportunistic defense. Oddly enough though, the defense has recovered four fumbles and only intercepted two passes.
It’s time for the defense to get a few more interceptions and it would be good to see someone besides Marcus Williams record an interception.
If they can get Minshew in obvious passing downs the pressure will increase and that can be overwhelming for a rookie quarterback.
The Saints have been one of the most penalized teams in the league so far this season. It hasn’t hurt them much, but it’s not something that can continue.
Sean Payton has seemed increasingly frustrated by it as the season has gone on, which isn’t surprising. It’s an issue that’s routinely put the offense in first and 20 situations, which is always bad, but when you’re playing with a backup quarterback, even a capable one, it’s a recipe for having to punt the ball instead of keep drives going.
On the defensive side, it’s also given opposing offenses more opportunities. Whether that be giving them more manageable down and distance situations, or giving them a first down, something the defense is tied for the 10th most at doing.
Don’t expect the team as a whole to suddenly drop to no penalties, but steady improvement in that department is something that needs to happen. The Saints were able to get a win in Seattle despite some sloppy play, but the last two games have been at home. Now, they are going back on the road. The penalty problem cannot rear its ugly head with them being on the road this week.
The Saints should beat the Jaguars. Jacksonville certainly isn’t a pushover, but New Orleans is the better team.
Both defensive fronts are capable of creating a lot of problems for opposing offenses, but the Saints should be more equipped to handle it, based on having a more experienced quarterback and a head coach who knows how to use what the defense is doing against them.
This game will probably be close, but the Saints should be able to win the turnover battle. Also, while the Jaguars have the third-leading rusher in the league, the Saints are more than capable of running the ball.
However, if New Orleans doesn’t come to play, or they’re sloppy when it comes to penalties, they can definitely lose to this Jacksonville team.
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