Previewing the opposition: New Orleans Saints

The Jets' season is effectively over and a loss on Sunday will officially eliminate them from mathematical playoff contention. They'll face the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, as New Orleans continue its postseason push.

Let's review how their roster shapes up:


Now 38, Drew Brees shows no signs of slowing down, as he's completing a career high 72% of his passes and has only thrown six interceptions all season while not losing a single fumble.

His overall numbers are down slightly on recent years, mainly because the Saints have been so successful running the ball so he's attempting fewer passes. However, they have the number one offense in the NFL and that will present a challenge for a Jets team that will be without Muhammad Wilkerson.

Back-up Chase Daniel has yet to throw a pass this season.

Offensive line

While the Saints have the number four running game in the NFL, that's been more due to the dynamic play of their backs than the run blocking. However, first round rookie Ryan Ramcyzk, who has started games at both tackle spots, has done an excellent job in the running game.

Ramczyk is currently starting at right tackle with Terron Armstead at left tackle. The athletic Armstead has been banged up all year but is said to have inspired his team by playing hurt.

The starting left guard is Andrus Peat but he's listed as questionable with a groin injury that kept him out of the previous game last Thursday night against Atlanta. Peat had started the game before that at left tackle with Armstead out so Senio Kelemete has started the last two games at left guard and will be ready to go if Peat can't play. Peat has struggled this year as he leads the team in penalties and sacks allowed.

Max Unger, at center, is the only starter other than Ramczyk to start every game but he hasn't committed a penalty all season.

The other starter is right guard Larry Warford, who is having a good year in pass protection. Josh LeRibeus backs up on the interior.

Running Backs

Rookie Alvin Kamara - a player the Jets supposedly were interested in drafting - has been a sensation this year with 1,247 yards from scrimmage, 62 receptions, a 7.0 yards per carry average and 11 total touchdowns. The playmaker is going to play on Sunday having passed through concussion protocol.

However, he's not even their leading rusher. That would be Mark Ingram, who needs just 29 yards for a thousand-yard season and has a team-high nine rushing touchdowns. He's also added 46 receptions himself.

Zach Line has done a good job as a blocking back but doesn't have any touches on offense so far.


Youngster Michael Thomas has been Brees' favorite target this year as he is just eight yards short of a thousand-yard season as he seeks to become just the second receiver to register 90 catches in each of his first two seasons. He needs five to attain that mark, which has previously only been achieved by Odell Beckham Jr.

Ted Ginn has been the next most productive receiver with 46 receptions and he also leads the Saints in yards per catch. However, he's listed as questionable with a rib injury.

Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead and Tommylee Lewis could all look to step up if Ginn can't play. Snead has just six catches after having been a productive slot option with 141 receptions in his first two seasons. The youngster Lewis - a 2016 undrafted free agent - had his first career touchdown last Thursday.

The starting tight end is Coby Fleener, who has 22 catches, but the Saints also have two veterans who contribute as blockers in Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawanui.

Defensive line

The Saints are strong up front, led by Cameron Jordan, who is having an outstanding season. Not only does he have 10 sacks, but he's also third on the team with 54 tackles.

The other starting end was Alex Okafor, who had also done well against the run and added 4.5 sacks. However, he was added to injured reserve a few weeks ago. With rookie Trey Hendrickson also out, the next best option is Hau'oli Kikaha who has just six tackles, but four of them have been sacks.

Inside, the Saints are led by Sheldon Rankins, last year's 12th overall pick, who is becoming more and more disruptive as a pass rusher. Tyeler Davidson and David Onyemata split reps alongside Rankins and both have done well against the run.

Rankins tends to move around on the defensive line and will probably just get more reps as a defensive end with Hendrickson out.


The Saints will be without a starter due to AJ Klein's groin injury, although he is also their leader in missed tackles. They had already placed another starter - rookie Alex Anzalone - on injured reserve in October.

Last week, veterans Manti Te'o and Craig Robertson got the majority of the reps with Michael Mauti rotating in. Gerald Hodges, a player the Jets looked into signing during the offseason, is another option but hasn't played much so far this year.

Defensive backs

The Saints' defensive backs got off to a rough start but have been lights out since the first few games, led by their first pick Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore has been battling injuries and got beaten a few times by Julio Jones last Thursday, but overall his play has been outstanding.

Another rookie - Marcus Williams - has also done a stellar job at safety. Kenny Vaccaro is listed as the other starter, but the Saints play a lot of three safety sets and Vonn Bell actually leads the team with 69 tackles and has added 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

The other starting cornerback is Ken Crawley - a 2016 undrafted free agent - who has done an excellent job, although he does lead the team with nine penalties.

Off the bench PJ Williams, Rafael Bush and Chris Banjo have all also been getting reps recently in the secondary. Williams was a third round pick in 2015 and gets a lot of work in the slot.

Special teams

Kicker Will Lutz - in his second season - has missed five field goals, including four of 18 from beyond 40 yards. The Saints have an experienced punter in Thomas Morstead though. He has the second highest punting grade in the NFL according to PFF.

Kamara and Ginn are listed as the primary kick and punt return men, but Lewis has been handling both roles of late.

Reserve defensive back Justin Hardee blocked a punt and returned it for a score earlier this year. Mauti, another good special teamer, did the same thing two years ago.

In kick coverage, Banjo and reserve tailback Trey Edmunds have been their most productive tacklers.