The New Orleans Saints kick off the Sunday slate with their game against the Minnesota Vikings in London. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosts the game, and the Saints need a win. At 1-2, New Orleans is in a tricky spot; they must return from London with a win. It will not be easy, but here are three things they must do to have a chance.
Shut Down Justin Jefferson
After exploding in Week One, Justin Jefferson has endured two challenging games since that opening week win over the Green Bay Packers. Darius Slay dominated Jefferson in Week Two, while third-year corner Jeff Okudah held Jefferson to three receptions for 14 yards on six targets. The Detroit Lions doubled Jefferson on third downs and had over-the-top safety help for their young corner. The Saints have a defender in Marshon Lattimore, who is on fire right now. Per Pro Football Focus, Lattimore has allowed three catches for 23 yards through three weeks. Dennis Allen will not hesitate to leave Lattimore on an island and ask his star defensive back to win his battle. Lattimore possesses the physicality to press on Jefferson, and has the foot speed and agility to play various techniques. The Saints boast the depth and talent to cover the rest of the Vikings’ pass-catching corps. If Lattimore stays red-hot and is in the hip pocket of Jefferson, the Saints will have a chance of disrupting the Vikings’ passing game.
Per ESPN and rbdsm.com, the Saints are the worst pass-rushing team in the NFL. A pass-rush win percentage of 19% is by far the worst in the NFL. The Detroit Lions’ hobbled pass-rushing unit failed to hurry Kirk Cousins last Sunday. New Orleans cannot win with four, and they look sluggish upfront. Former Saint Trey Hendrickson has more sacks than Cam Jordan, Payton Turner, and Marcus Davenport combined. If the Saints can’t win with four, they need extra help from blitzes, shifted fronts, and disguised pressures. It is time to get creative and dial things up to 11.
Use A Quick Strike Passing Game
With Andy Dalton likely to start, the Saints must pivot towards a short/intermediate passing game. Dalton’s greatest asset is his accuracy and game management skills. Last Sunday, Jared Goff was 20-of-27 on throws between five and 20 yards. The Lions used their run game and a jabbing passing game to puncture Minnesota’s second level. The Vikings average less than six players in the tackle box, and their safeties play with depth in the backfield. If Dalton can get the ball out quickly and use crossers, slants, and dig routes with a dollop of play-action, New Orleans can take advantage of the intermediate and short areas of the field.