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Giants vs. Saints: Giants’ DC James Bettcher knows
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“great challenge” awaits “Great challenge this week.”That is how New York Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher on Thursday described facing quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.The Saints are second in the league in scoring at 34.7 points per game. Brees is completing 80.6 percent of his passes
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, has set the league record for career completions and is 418 yards from passing Peyton Manning to become all-time leader in career passing yards.Bettcher said that while Brees has done so far this season is a “rare and special thing” in the NFL.“Really an offense that collectively has been one of the top five offenses for a while. They’ve [Brees and coach Sean Payton] been together for over a decade, they’ve called a lot of plays, run a lot of plays together. You can see that.”“It going to be a great challenge.”Like the Giants have the duo of Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr., the Saints have the outstanding running back-wide receiver combination of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Bettcher was asked about controlling those two players.Alvin KamaraThe running back exploded on the scene for the Saints last season after being selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He had 1,554 yards from scrimmage (728 rushing, 826 receiving). He scored 13 touchdowns.This season, Kamara has 141 rushing yards and 289 receiving yards that puts him on pace for 2,293 yards from scrimmage. Kamara’s 30 receptions leads NFL running backs.Bettcher called Kamara a “really special player” and said “They’re gonna find way to target him and get him touches.”The defensive coordinator said there is no specific way to match up against Kamara, who does more of his damage as a receiver than runner.“At the end of the day we have to play fundamentally sound football,” he said. “There‘s no perfect call to get one guy on him every snap of the game.”Michael ThomasThe third-year wide receiver has 38 receptions this season in 40 targets from Brees, an astounding 95 percent catch rate. Thomas caught 104 passes for 1,245 yards last season, and has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons.The Saints move the 6-foot-3
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, 212-pound Thomas around, often in the slot and sometimes outside to create matchup issues. The Saints have, in face, lined Thomas up in the slot 22.8 percent of the time this season.“Thomas is another really talented receiver on the perimeter. Really strong hands at the point,” Bettcher said.“They’re going to move him, put him all over the field. There’s special plays that are designed to get him touches, just like Kamara. Might be in the slot, it might be the X in the back side of 3x1 a few times as the Z.“Anywhere they put him you’ve gotta be aware they put him you’ve gotta be aware he’s a focal point.”Eli Apple appears unlikely to play Sunday. He missed last week’s game vs. the Houston Texans with a groin injury and has yet to practice this week. The Giants could have Janoris Jenkins shadow Thomas.Linebacker Olivier Vernon has practiced twice this week and might be healthy enough to make his debut on Sunday as he recovers from a high ankle sprain.“You’re talking about a very special player playing on the edge,” Bettcher said. “We’d love to have him and when we do get him back whether that’s this week or in the future we’ll be excited to have him back.”Giants-Eagles odds: Giants will be underdogs at home vs. Eagles The New York Giants came close to a late road win against the Carolina Panthers in Week 5, losing in the final seconds thanks to a 63-yard Graham Gano field goal. But close doesn’t count in the NFL; the Giants are still a one-win team, and while they return to their home-field in Week 6, the lines aren’t giving the team much of an advantage. The visiting Philadelphia Eagles opened as 2.5-point favorites and, as of Tuesday, they are now favored by three points at both Bovada.lv as well as 5dimes.eu. The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles
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, at 2-3, aren’t as formidable as expected to open the season. They’ve scored just 103 points — one fewer than the Giants — through five games, and their injury-ravaged running backs cadre has left quarterback Carson Wentz vulnerable, having taken 12 sacks in three games. The Giants surprisingly surpassed the 30-point mark on the road against Carolina, a total the Eagles have yet to reach this season. While that doesn’t mean the Giants will reprise the performance on Thursday, that they managed it just days ahead of their divisional rivals coming to town is, at the very least, a morale boost. And the NFC East remains up for grabs with the rest of the division at two wins apiece. The Giants still have a reason to fight. On offense, lean on Saquon Barkley as both a rusher and receiver, and on defense, force Wentz to throw and then bring the pressure: It’s a not-so-complicated way to a win.While smart money is on the Eagles early, that may not be the reality of the situation come Thursday night. As disappointing as the Giants have been this season, being at home on a short week against a slumping Philadelphia squad could do the team a world of good.
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Giants vs. Saints: Giants’ DC James Bettcher knows
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