Brandin Cooks vs. Marcus Peters ... who ya got?
CSC: Marcus Peters will definitely make an impact in the game, but I still like Brandin Cooks' chances of having a big game. The Saints offense is able to use pre-snap motion to get favorable match-ups and it seems unlikely the Chiefs move Peters to the right side of the field every time Cooks is lined up there.
Even when they're lining up against each other, Cooks runs great routes. If Peters bites on a double-move against Crabtree, Cooks should have similar success (but Drew Brees definitely has the arm strength to take advantage). Cooks also has blow-past speed, and when you couple that with his route-running, I expect him to have over 100 yards in the game.
Where is the Saints defense vulnerable?
CSC: The Saints defense is most vulnerable in the secondary, specifically with the young cornerbacks. Our star CB Delvin Breaux isn't expected back for a few more weeks (and that's being optimistic) and our other starter, P.J. Williams, is out even longer. CB Sterling Moore has shown potential, but if Alex Smith is able to pick on CBs like Brian Dixon on big passes, it'll be a long game for New Orleans. Even with the departure of the historically bad Brandon Browner, the Saints CBs still have a tough time turning their heads around and trying to make a play on the ball.
If Alex Smith just throws the ball in the general direction of a Chiefs receiver, the odds of a catch or defensive pass interference is embarrassingly high right now.
How are the Saints - and Drew Brees - on the road?
CSC: The days of "The Saints are good at home and can't win on the road" are over. That's not to say that they are suddenly an unstoppable offense on the road, but rather that the Saints magic in the Super Dome has been lost and everything seems to have leveled out.
The eye test still says Brees is more prone to make mistakes and force throws on the road, and the stats seem to back that up. Last year, Brees had one more interception and 14 less passing touchdowns on the road. Even still, his road QBR is eerily similar to Alex Smith's home QBR (when the stats seem to indicate Smith is a better QB on the road).
Do the Saints have a pass rush?
CSC: Surprisingly, the answer looks to be yes thus far. The Saints were able to log 13 hits on Cam Newton last week. The Saints only have nine sacks on the season, but have been able to generate fairly consistent pressure on opposing QBs all season long.
Free agent signee Nick Fairley looks to be one of the best offseason acquisitions (when considering value of the contract and performance on the field) across the NFL, and he now has registered a sack in three straight games.
Saints DC Dennis Allen also is starting to play around with more exotic looks on defense, some times lining up DE Cam Jordan a few yards behind the line of scrimmage to get a running start at the QB.
As I said earlier, unfortunately it's been the Saints secondary/pass defense that's the problem as they haven't been able to capitalize on poor/rushed throws or maintain coverage when plays break down.
Prediction for the game
CSC: The homer in me says (read: "hopes") the Saints win, so I've got to go that route. I expect a close game, so I'll say 27-21 Saints. I don't see this game as a blowout either way, and expect the final margin to be one possession or less. In any event, let's just hope for a good game with no injuries to either team. Good luck on Sunday, but Who Dat?!