Why the New Orleans Saints Defense Will Dominate the San Francisco 49ers
Looking for a DST that isn’t the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens or Denver Broncos? There’s one defense that is being overlooked by a lot of people this weekend, and that is the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are actually my top defensive play this week.
Against San Francisco? Really? Here’s why.
Since the 49ers lost Daniel Kilgore at center against the Denver Broncos, they have been a mess. San Francisco had a bye week after Kilgore suffered the injury. The 49ers hosted the St. Louis Rams and gave up an atrocious 10 sacks. Keep in mind that Colin Kaepernick is a mobile QB, there were two weeks to prepare and this game was in San Francisco.
When a center goes down, it is significantly underrated how valuable he is to make an offense work. He’s essentially the second QB since he shares the most responsibility with making an offensive line function.
Allow me to provide a few examples on how important centers are with injuries. When the Cleveland Browns lost center Alex Mack against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jacksonville Jaguars (one of the worst defenses in the league) sacked Brian Hoyer three times, the Browns ran it 30 times for 69 yards and the Jaguars won 24-6.
The Falcons got off to a decent 2-1 start and looked like a possible NFC South threat after they beat New Orleans and obliterated Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football. But after losing a couple offensive linemen, including center Peter Konz, against the Vikings, Atlanta hasn’t won a game since and Ryan has been sacked 13 times in this stretch.
Last year when Maurkice Pouncey of the Steelers went down against the Tennessee Titans in the opener, they lost their first four games (Titans, Bengals, Bears, Vikings), Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 15 times in those four games (this wasn’t because he was holding onto the ball too long like other times) and Pittsburgh didn’t have a running back go over 100 yards rushing until Week 16.
We pay attention so much to skill-position players when they get hurt, because well, they are more exciting to watch. However, it’s usually overrated. But, when it happens to linemen, it’s often very underrated. It takes time for the entire unit to adjust and for the replacement to get better. And ultimately, a bad offensive line makes everyone’s production suffer.
As for the Saints coming into this matchup, they have racked up four sacks in each of the last two games and have eclipsed double-digit FPTS the last two weeks against the Packers and Panthers in primetime. This game is in New Orleans, the spread has climbed all the way to -5.5 and the Saints have a big homefield advantage inside the loud Superdome. Not only will the Saints rack up the sacks, I’m predicting a minimum of three false-start penalties for San Francisco, which obviously leads to more sacks in passing situations. But, it also leads to the more likelihood of a pick-six.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz