Garic: Breaking down the Saints-Raiders matchups

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Here we go screaming into week 2 of the NFL season. The Saints are set to “open” the Raiders’ new pad, “Allegiant Stadium” on Monday Night Football. No fans again this week. Several Saints fans I talked to are still headed to Vegas, because they already made plans prior to COVID-19. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

SAINTS DEFENSE VS RAIDERS OFFENSE:  The Saints defense was pretty impressive in the win over Tampa in week 1.  The “Fleur De Lis D” held Tom Brady and company to 310 yards of total offense.   For the Raiders it’s about establishing the run with Josh Jacobs.  That would allow QB Derek Carr to function in the offense off play action.

Carr sliced up a hapless Panthers defense last week.  That won’t be the case this week against New Orleans.  The Saints went back to ball hawking, snatching two interceptions from the Bucs.  The Raiders did a good job of protecting Carr against Carolina.  Again, this defense in week two isn’t anything like the one Las Vegas pushed around in week 1.

WR Henry Rugs III is their weapon in the passing game.  Head coach John Gruden loves to push the ball down the field, so CB’s Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins better be ready for the deep ball.  In this matchup, the Saints hold the advantage.

SAINTS OFFENSE VS RAIDERS DEFENSE:  After the Saint scored 27 points in the win over Tampa Bay, fans were asking, “What’s wrong with the offense?”  Um, NOTHING!  First, give credit to the Bucs, that defense is salty.  Also, offense is a rhythm thing with time on task components that take a little while to fully develop.  The Panthers posted 30 points against the Raiders in week one.  Carolina doesn’t have nearly the offensive weapons the Saints possess.

Carolina chewed the Raiders up on the ground last week too, rushing for 128 yards.  I expect the Saints to attack the run defense of the Raiders then push the ball over their heads in the passing game.  In this match, the Saints hold the advantage.

SAINTS SPECIAL TEAM’S VS RAIDERS SPECIAL TEAMS:  Again, you would have a hard time convincing me the Saints don’t have the best special teams in the NFL.   Returner Deonte Harris averages 15 yards a punt return.  So what does that mean?  Well, field positon for one, also it’s one less first down the offense has to convert.  I’m not really going to dissect this matchup because it’s so lopsided in the Saints favor.

SEAN PAYTON VS JOHN GRUDEN:  Both come from the Andy Reid coaching tree in Philadelphia.  Payton and Gruden are offensive masterminds, but Gruden can’t touch Payton as a play caller and ability to prepare their teams.  Payton and the Saints are better in this category hands down.

PREDICTION:  Saints 34 - Raiders 13.  Yeah the offense flexes and the defense suffocates.  Who Dat!  Let’s go play some black jack!