New Orleans Saints

Giants’ high-priced defense needs to slow down Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) shake hands after an 2009 NFL football game in New Orleans. Brees and Manning are friends off the field and rivals on the field. On Sunday, the two high-profile quarterbacks go at it when Brees’ Saints take on Manning’s Giants.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) shake hands after an 2009 NFL football game in New Orleans. Brees and Manning are friends off the field and rivals on the field. On Sunday, the two high-profile quarterbacks go at it when Brees’ Saints take on Manning’s Giants. Associated Press

The New York Giants’ big-bucks, revamped defense found a way to hold off the Dallas Cowboys in the Ben McAdoo’s debut as coach. Facing the New Orleans Saints on Sunday will show whether spending more than $100 million to help Steve Spagnuolo’s unit was cost effective.

The Giants (1-0) aren’t going to be facing Dak Prescott, a rookie making his first NFL start.

It’s Drew Brees this week. The 37-year-old leads the league in passing and comes into the season with 10 consecutive years of passing for more than 4,000 yards, with no less than 4,870 in the last five, which includes three 5,000-yard campaigns.

If those numbers don’t impress the Giants, all they have to do is recall last year: Brees passed for 511 yards and tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a 52-49 win.

“I don’t even remember that,” Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie quipped.

He does, though.

“When you are playing a guy like that who has been doing it for a long time, you know he has a good arm and has some good receivers who can definitely take the top off a defenses, and you have guys who understand football, and the way he throws and gets it out quick,” Rogers-Cromartie said. “Man, it’s going to be tough.”

It’s also going to be tougher for Brees. He will be seeing a lot of new faces.

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison and end Olivier Vernon are new, and end Jason Pierre-Paul did not play last year because of his fireworks accident.

Middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard is new, as are cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, safeties Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe, who was on injured reserve last year.

“I would say while it’s the same scheme for the most part, Steve Spagnuolo, there’s a lot of good players over there that seem to be playing really well,” Brees said. “I don’t really look at last year as any type of indication as to how this is going to go. I think they’re much improved. They’re playing really well right now. I have a lot of respect for coach Spagnuolo and his scheme. I’m sure they’re going to be ready for us. We need to make sure we’re ready for them.”

New Orleans put up 34 points last week as Brees passed for 423 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants edged Dallas 20-19.

With Delvin Breaux going out for six to eight weeks with a broken leg, the Saints are relying on a trio of cornerbacks with only one regular-season game to their name: starter P.J. Williams and reserves DeVante Harris and Ken Crawley. However, a pair of recently acquired veterans could suit up in New York – Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb, who both practiced this week.

Moore knows the Giants well from playing three seasons in the NFC East with the Cowboys (2012-2014). He also played against the Giants last season with Tampa Bay.

New Orleans Saints at New York Giants

When: Noon Sunday

Where: East Rutherford, N.J.

TV: FOX

Radio: 870-AM, 105.3 FM

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