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5 Players To Watch: New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints

Photo Credit:: newsday

The New York Giants will look to win their first home opener since 2011 as they take on the New Orleans Saints (0-1). When these two teams played last year, the Saints won 52-49 in what was the highest-scoring game of the NFL season.

The Giants have better personal this season and our favored to win. Several players must step up in order for the Giants to win.

Here’s a look at 5 key players that will determine the outcome of the game.

1. Eli Apple

Apple has played above and beyond expectations thus far in his young career. Now comes a tough task for the rookie in going up against a high-powered Saints passing game led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.

Apple is far and away the least experience cornerback on the Giants. So look for the Saints to try to get Apple matched up against the Saints most explosive receiver Brandin Cooks. It’s important that Apple remains discipline and does not go for Cooks double moves and gets beat deep. If Apple can hold his own on man to man coverage it will be a big edge for the Giants.

2. Darian Thompson

Much like fellow rookie Eli Apple, the Saints will look to challenge safety Darian Thompson on Sunday. The Saints will try to connect on a couple of big plays on Sunday. So Thompson must not let any of the Saints receivers get behind him for a big play. It will also be Thompson’s responsibility to cover the Saints tight ends along the seams.

3. Sterling Shepard

Last season Odell Beckham Jr. torched the Saints defense with eight receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Unlike the Giants, the Saints did not upgrade their defense on the off season. So they’ll look to double team Odell often in order to slow him down.

With Odell being doubled, Shepard will see single coverage throughout the game. Last week Shepard only had four targets. Expect him to have at least eight targets on Sunday. This could be a breakout game for Shepard.

Olivier Vernon

Last season Drew Brees through the ball 50 times and was not sacked once. Olivier Vernon will make sure that does not happen again. Expect Vernon to pressure Brees and get his sack as a Giant.

Eli Manning

Everyone expects Manning to put up huge numbers (yard & touchdowns) against the Saints just as he did last year and he will. But Manning must also not turn the ball over. The Giants have a better overall team than the Saints, but one thing that could get them beat is if Manning has a few turnovers.

Jason Leach is an analyst for Pro Football Spot for the New York Giants for @pfspot. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKLeach

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