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Giants vs. Saints: Breaking down the matchups

A look at the matchups for Sunday's New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints game at MetLife Stadium.

Drew Brees
Drew Brees
John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Giants (7-5) host the New Orleans Sainsts (5-7) Sunday at MetLife Stadium (4:25 p.m. ET). The giants need a victory as they are clinging to a one-game lead over the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.

Here is a breakdown of how the teams match up with each other.

[See the Big Blue View Game Hub for more coverage]

When the Saints have the ball

Last season the Saints completely overwhelmed the Giants' defense. New Orleans scored 49 points, totaled 577 yards of offense and put together six drives of at least 70 yards. Drew Brees passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for a fifth score.

Brees and the Saints haven't been quite as prolific this season as they were last, when Brees threw for an NFL record 5,476 yards and had 46 touchdown passes. This season he has 31 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. The Saints have scored 321 points (26.75 per game), identical to the Giants.

Brees' favorite target is wide receiver Marques Colston, a Hofstra grad, who leads the Saints with 61 catches and 828 yards receiving. Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham have each caught eight touchdown passes. Graham (59), Lance Moore (52) and running back Pierre Thomas (51) all have more than 50 receptions.

The Saints are 27th in the league in rushing offense at 92.1 yards per game. Thomas has a team-best 425 yards and Mark Ingram has 352.

The Giants are 22nd in the league in pass defense and have given up 53 plays (nearly 4.5 per game) of 20 yards or more. They will have to get pressure on Brees, and do a better job of limiting the big play than they have often done this season.

When the Giants have the ball

Moving the football has not been a problem for the Giants (371.2 yards per game, 10th in the league) most of the season. Punching it into the end zone consistently has been. The Giants have reached the Red Zone (inside the opponent's 20-yard line) 49 times, but have only 24 touchdowns (49 percent). That puts the Giants 22nd in the league.

If the past two games with the Saints are any indication, the Giants are going to have to score touchdowns -- lots of 'em -- to win this game.

Eli Manning is 259-of-427 (60.7 percent) for 3,170 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Victor Cruz has 68 receptions for 883 yards and eight touchdowns. Hakeem Nicks has 46 catches and Martellus Bennett has 44.

Ahmad Bradshaw has 883 yards rushing (4.5 yards per carry).

Special teams

Placekicker Lawrence Tynes is having a spectacular season (32-of-36), with the only problem being how often the Giants have asked him to kick. The 36 tries are a league-high. David Wilson did a good job returning kickoffs early in the season, but has not hit a long one in a while.

The Saints' most dangerous return man is Darren Sproles, but Travis Cadent has been good this year as a kick returner as well. Both are averaging more than 28 yards per kickoff return.

On punt return Sproles is averaging 8.7 yards per return.