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Giants vs. Saints preview: No letting up after that first victory

Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws a pass against

Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws a pass against the Texans during a game in Houston on Sunday. Photo Credit: AP/Eric Christian Smith

The Giants no longer have one of their top motivating forces from last week: Desperation.

They beat the Texans for their first win of the season and avoided falling to 0-3. The season-on-the-verge vibe has disappeared thanks to that victory. But as the Giants face the Saints on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, they’re trying to maintain that same intensity.

“I think last week we had great urgency and understanding of what we had to fix and get better,” Eli Manning said. “I think you have to have that same mentality. We’ve got to fix things from last week, there were mistakes, and I think that’s the mindset is to get better and improve each and every week.”

Landon Collins said the best way to do that is to not dwell on the victory.

“You gather momentum by staying the course,” he said. “You don’t think about it. We got our win. We can kind of calm down about that now. But we do the same preparation we did the week prior, the weeks before that, and the week before that. Just continue to get better and continue working to be the best.”

THE PUNT HUNT

The Giants had a punt that was tipped last week. It wasn’t enough to significantly alter the trajectory of the football – the kick traveled 39 yards – but it may open the door for future attempts to block Giants punts. “Mike Westhoff and the crew is rolling in,” Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said of his Saints counterpart (and former special teams leader for the Jets). “He’s going to have his guys hunting. There’s blood in the water. That’s just part of the deal.”

452, 7

Total wins and NFL Championships as head coach in the Hall of Fame genealogies of the two quarterbacks coaches for the Giants and Saints. Giants QB coach Mike Shula is the son of Don Shula (347, 2) while Saints QB coach Joe Lombardi is the grandson of Vince Lombardi (105, 5).

THE X-FACTOR: ALVIN KAMARA

When a wide receiver is a threat, you cover him with your best cornerback. When a running back can gain a lot of yards on the ground, you count on your run-stuffers to keep him curtailed. But when you face a running back who often lines up at receiver the way the Saints’ Alvin Kamara does, defending him can be a crapshoot. “Because of the multitude of places he can align and motion to and shift to, there’s no perfect call to get one guy on him every snap of the game,” Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “Whoever is on him has got to play fundamentally sound, got to understand the routes you’re going to get from the places he’s aligned, and got to get your eyes in the right place and play fast.” That’s why Kamara and his ability to create mismatches is so dangerous for the Giants.

“They use him all over the field,” Giants LB Alec Ogletree said. “He’s special when he has the ball. He’s able to turn a small gain to a big gain. It takes everybody to get to the ball and make a tackle.”

MULTIPLICITY

At some point in Sunday’s game, Michael Thomas could find himself going up against Michael Thomas. That’s because the Giants’ safety and the Saints’ wide receiver have the same name. “It’s funny,” Thomas, the Giants player, said this week. “We always get mistaken for each other on social media. I’m always getting some of his merchandise. It’s a funny situation.” Thomas faced Thomas last year when he was a member of the Dolphins and played the Saints. But even that wasn’t the first time he played against someone with whom he shares a name. The University of Arizona had a receiver named Michael Thomas who Thomas faced when he played at Stanford. He’s no longer in the NFL. In 2016 there were two Michael Thomases drafted into the NFL, the one now playing for the Saints and another picked in the sixth round by the Rams (that one is on injured reserve this season). Thomas – the one for the Saints – leads the NFL with 38 catches for 398 yards. It’s made Thomas – the one for the Giants – somewhat proud, even if he will be focused on trying to contain him on Sunday. “It’s actually cool seeing somebody ballin’ with the same name,” Thomas said. “It’s just a great name.”

BUFFALO RIGHT, KEY LEFT, SEVEN HEAVEN

If the Giants are close at the end of the game against the Saints, Pat Shurmur might very well call that exact play. And why not? It worked the last time he called it against this team when he was offensive coordinator for the Vikings and they beat the Saints on the final snap of their playoff victory in January. Down by 1 with 10 seconds left, it led to one of the most memorable plays in NFL history when Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs on a walk-off 61-yard touchdown. Marcus Williams, the safety who was beaten on the play, is still a starter for the Saints and will be out there on Sunday. Buffalo right is the formation, bunching the receivers to the right. Key left is the protection, allowing the quarterback to slide in the pocket. Seven is the route, run deep and toward the corner. And heaven? Well, that speaks for itself. Do the Giants have that same play at their disposal? Is it cued up just in case a similar situation presents itself? “It’s always up,” Shurmur smiled. “It’s always up.”

15

Career TD passes in seven career games against the Saints by Eli Manning, tied for his most against a non-division opponent. He’s also thrown 15 against the Seahawks but in eight games.

72-12: The Saints’ record in games when they score at least 30 points since 2006 when Sean Payton became head coach.

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