Two NFC playoff-hopefuls meet at the Superdome when the New Orleans Saints (7-3) host the New York Giants (6-4) in a homecoming for quarterback Eli Manning on Monday night.
The Giants are looking to bounce back after a home loss to the Eagles last week in which they only scored 10 points. Manning threw 18 completions for 264 yards to go along with a touchdown and interception. New York's offensive woes are still clear as the Giants have failed to score 30 points in nine-of-10 games this season.
Aside from a 62-point outburst against the Colts earlier this season, the Saints' don't seem to have quite the high-octane offense they once had, but New Orleans are still capable of going on scoring binges. Manning, who attended Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, may be called upon to throw the ball more against a defene that is ranked 22nd in average passing yards per game.
This will be a battle of two rather similar defenses. The Giants and Saints are tied for 19th in average points allowed per game (22.8), and are similar in average yards allowed per game.
While the spotlight might be on Manning in his return home, five-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees may be poised for a big evening as he will probably look to Jimmy Graham early and often. The 25-year-old has emerged as one of the best tight ends in the league, and with linebacker Michael Bay injured, the Giants will probably have rookie Jacquain Williams covering Graham.
The Giants will need a stronger performance from Brandon Jacobs and the offensive line. Against Philadelphia, New York mustered only 29 yards on 17 carries, and Jacobs had only 21 yards on 12 carries. It doesn't help things that the offensive line will be without left tackle Will Beatty.
Saints' linebacker Jonathan Vilma is questionable with a knee injury.
The Giants have a 3-2 record on the road, while the Saints are 4-0 at home.
LINE: Saints are favored by 7.5 points.
OVER/UNDER: 51.5 points
PREDICTION: The Giants' under-achieving offensive line will mean Manning will be forced to make more throws under pressure. Still, it would be hard to assume that New York's running game will be worse than last week, and Jacobs can be expected to find a hole and break off a few decents run. The Saints offense might be too much for the Giants. Graham will likely exceed 100 receiving yards, and expect all-purpose back Darren Sproles to have a big game, as well.
PREDICTED SCORE: New Orleans 40, New York 20