Although Drew Brees and the Saints' offense will garner a lot of the attention, there will be an extra focus on defense this week in New York when Rex Ryan and his Jets defense take on New Orleans and Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Sunday's game will have more than family bragging rights on the line, however, with both teams in playoff contention. The Saints enter atop the NFC South at 6-1, while the Jets are two games back in the AFC East at 4-4. New Orleans is not only playing for the division, but is also in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, making every game vital. The Jets are one of seven teams at .500 or better in the AFC and enter the week just outside of the playoff picture.
The matchup will be just the third time the teams have played since 2001 and the first since 2009.
Meet the Jets
New York has been an up-and-down team this season, winning four close games while also suffering two blowout losses. The Jets' four wins came by a combined 13 points, including three wins on game-winning field goal attempts. Only one of New York's four losses came by fewer than 13 points, with New York being outscored by 81 points in losses. New York's minus-68 point differential is the lowest for any team with more than two wins and the fourth-worst in the NFL.
A big part of the up-and-down struggles has been the offense. In wins, the Jets average 26.3 points per game. That number drops to 9.5 PPG in their four losses. Overall, New York is 27th in the NFL in scoring at 17.9 PPG. Not surprisingly, rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been considerably worse in loses. He's thrown seven touchdowns compared to four interceptions in wins. Those numbers drop to one touchdown and nine interceptions in the four losses.
The strength of New York's defense is up front, with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson both playing at very high levels. Wilkerson has seven sacks on the season and has been among the best defensive players in the NFL this season. New York is first in the NFL in run defense and sixth in yards allowed, but tied for 23rd in scoring defense.
Meet the Saints
Everyone knows what Brees and the Saints' offense is capable of, but the New Orleans defense is much improved. New Orleans, which allowed 28.4 PPG last season, is fourth in the NFL in scoring defense at 17.1 PPG this season. The Saints held opponents to 18 points or fewer in six of their seven games.
The improvements on defense, combined with New Orleans' potent offense, have made the Saints a tough team to beat this season. They are fifth in the NFL in scoring at 28.0 PPG, making them the only team in the NFL to be ranked in the top five in scoring offense and scoring defense. New Orleans hasn't had a lot of success running the ball, but Brees has made up for it by averaging 310.7 passing yards per game.
New Orleans and Seattle are the only one-loss teams in the NFC, but the Saints will need to win road games if they are going to keep pace. Seattle is 4-1 on the road while the Saints have played just three road games and are 2-1.
Local Takes: New York
Turnovers have been a major issue for Smith and the Jets at times this season. Gang Green Nation dug a little deeper to examine the issue.
This could mean a few things for the Jets as they try to protect against turnovers. The common sense call has been for more run game. Run it and run it, try to control the time of possession. Don't let Geno expose himself to turnovers. The problem with this really is that it only works if the Defense is pretty stout, and if the run game can get traction. But as can be seen in the Cincinnati game when the Defense gives up early scores the Jets end up playing nearly the whole game in the Geno Smith danger zone.
Local Takes: New Orleans
Despite the offensive success, the Saints still have some issues on that side of the ball. Ricky Tiernan and Canal Street Chronicles talked about the issues on the offensive line.
One of the biggest things we discussed was the offensive line and what impact that will have on the Saints this season. I am highly critical of this aspect of our team. Say what you will, but I will say this and did to Jason Strudwick: The offensive line we have currently will not lead us to a Super Bowl. Period. We have a real problem here and it must be addressed.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Gang Green Nation and Canal Street Chronicles, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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After a 49-9 debacle on Sunday, see which writer thinks the Jets are the 4th worst team in the NFL: http://t.co/VQKxwn5qSQ— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) October 29, 2013
Are we as optimistic about the Pelicans season as we are about the Saints SB chances? I guess we can all hope, right?— Canal St. Chronicles (@SaintsCSC) October 29, 2013
@MicklesAdvocate -- Saints beat writer
@RichCimini -- Jets beat writer
New York has been up-and-down this season. If it turns in one of its better performances, it could hang with the Saints. The problem is New York doesn't necessarily match up well with the Saints and New Orleans should have a slight advantage on both sides of the ball. The Jets should play better than last week, but New Orleans comes away with the win.
Pick: Saints 28-13
The Saints opened up as 3-point road favorites, according to OddsShark.com. The total was set at 45.5 points and the line has shifted in New Orleans' direction with the Saints favored by as many as six points.
New York will be off on a bye week, while New Orleans will host Dallas.