There will be a few notable numbers to look at during and after the game when the Saints open up their season this Sunday. Each one will give a hint in how the Saints are doing in certain key categories.
So things have gotten a little bizarre over the last 24 hours, as far as who will kick for the Black and Gold. Kicker Kai Forbath won the spot supposedly over the preseason. However, news broke just yesterday that Forbath was cut and a rookie named Wil Lutz was signed. Wil who? Who Dat Nation may be a little shocked when they found out the news. Regardless, Lutz is gonna have the duties at least for now. Field goals will be critical this year, and I get the feeling there won’t be a long leash given. So in Lutz we trust for the Raiders game.
The Saints will want to do well on third down conversions. Anything over 40% would be pretty good. The top 10 last year finished between 40-47 percent. The important ones will be in the Red Zone inside the 20 yard line. The short yardage plays are going to be a key point in the game as well. Can the Saints get the push from the offensive line to get that extra yard? Time will tell. On both sides of the ball, this stat will be the one to keep an eye on.
The offensive line will have all eyes on it Sunday. An argument can be made that this one thing might be the most important. Drew Brees cannot afford to get hit and dropped this Sunday. In order for the Saints to get their offense going, the big men upfront must protect Brees. First quarter will be important to set the tone for the game. Brees will also have to be a little nimble as well. He’s done it before. The Saints will ask him again to dodge the rush. Awareness is one of his strengths. Brees will need to have that third eye wide open much of the game.
The Saints have struggled for most of the preseason averaging sometimes two yards a carry. In order for the Saints to keep the defense guessing, they must get at least four yards per carry. This will set up the play action pass, as well as keep the defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage. If the Saints can’t get that magical number, the corners and safeties can stay focused on coverage. The Saints will want to keep the Raider’s defense off balance to keep the momentum going.
The Saints finished at -7 in the turnover ratio in preseason. To have any chance this weekend, the Saints must win the turnover battle. There is no way of getting around this statistic. Statistics support that teams that cause turnovers usually win much more consistently than teams that don’t. The Saints also better keep three hands on the football at all times on offense. Also, no foolish errors can be made on special teams which also plagued the Saints this preseason.
In summary, the Saints need to put all these things together consistently throughout the season. Even more important though, when the game is on the line people need to step up. The last five minutes will most likely decide at least three or four games. These key stats will be even more crucial when the time is winding down.