Aldon Smith can again dominate when the San Francisco 49ers take on the New Orleans Saints. Smith can attack the weak edges of the Saints' offensive line and terrorise quarterback Drew Brees.
Smith is coming off a monster game in Week 11. He dominated the Chicago Bears on Monday Night football.
The second-year rush end logged 5.5 sacks. That gives him a league-leading 15 for the season, exceeding his rookie tally of 14.
Smith is arguably the best pure pass-rusher in the NFL. His long arms and natural bend, explosive first-step quickness and deceptive power, make him a nightmare for offensive tackles.
That's bad news for Saints duo Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief. The strength of the Saints' front five is along the interior, with guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs.
However, they have a definite weakness on the edges. Bushrod and Strief lack range and are awkward movers.
Neither is able to shift their feet quickly and turn to deal with speed around the corner. That's not the kind of problem blockers can afford to have against Smith.
If the 49ers hope to win in New Orleans they must pressure the league's most prolific quarterback Drew Brees. He has thrown for more touchdowns than any other quarterback with 28.
It's not a question of stopping Brees, it's a matter of containing him. Harassing him in the pocket and speeding up his decision-making are the best ways to do it.
Smith has a crucial role to play and should relish his matchup against either Bushrod or Strief. Against the Bears, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio let Smith attack from either side of the formation.
The Saints will then have to set their protection towards Smith's position and give both tackles help. That's still unlikely to be enough to slow him down.
Expect Smith to again dominate and keep Brees running for his life.850277