Week 11: New Orleans Saints At Oakland Raiders
- QuarterbackDrew Brees has the Saints playing much better football. Earlier in the year, the Saints were not sustaining their offense for 60 minutes, but now they are keeping the pressure on. Brees depends on his accuracy, quick release and his ability to read defenses. He also has the quickness to get away from the pass rush and make plays from his feet.The Raiders are struggling to find games they can win, but Carson Palmer is playing decent football. He has completed 61.3 percent of his passes and he has thrown for 2,723 yards. His 15-to-9 touchdown to interception ratio shows that the Raiders passing game can be dangerous.
- OffenseThe Saints seem to have learned that their explosive passing game is a lot more dangerous when they can employ a complementary running game. Chris Ivory carried 7 times for 72 yards against the Falcons and Pierre Thomas is also a factor. However, the key to the Saints’ offense is their explosive receiving crew led by Marques Colston, Lance Moore and tight end Jimmy Graham.The Raiders are going to have a chance to exploit the 32nd ranked defense in the league. They are expecting to get running back Darren McFadden back from a sprained ankle to punish that defense. Palmer is building a good rapport with wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. Tight end Brandon Myers has good hands and he has caught 44 passes.
- DefenseThe Saints have the weakest defense in the league heading into Week 11. They rank 32nd in yards allowed and 31st in passing yards allowed. The Saints have a chance to improve their defensive play if they can put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Defensive end Cameron Jordan had a team-high six sacks and he must turn it up a notch for the Saints to become more competitive.The Raiders have also had problems on the defensive end, but they have been much more efficient than New Orleans. The Raiders rank 23rd in yards allowed and they have some hard-hitting tacklers. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler has a team-high 72 stops and he is solid against the run. Defensive end Richard Seymour has three sacks and he needs to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
- Special TeamsThe Saints have not gotten much from their return game this year, but they know that Darren Sproles has the ability to break big plays as both a punt and kickoff returner. Thomas Morstead is an explosive punter who is averaging 51.0 yards per punt.Sebastian Janikowski continues to be the dominant placekicker in the league. He has made 22-of-23 FG attempts this season and he continues to be a threat for the Raiders any time he has an attempt of less than 60 yards. Punter Shane Lechler is nearly as strong punting as Janikowski is as a field goal kicker.
The Saints may have started the season 0-4, but they have turned it around and are much closer to the explosive team that lit up the league last year. The defense is still generous, but Brees is back on track and firing the ball with abandon. The Raiders may be able to get into this fight, but they won’t be able to finish it.