Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/7/12
To their credit, New Orleans hasn't given up on their season despite having to play with the distraction of Bountygate and without their head coach, Sean Payton.Drew Brees has struggled against good defenses this year, but the Giants' defense has struggled with consistency themselves.Who will show up and dominate this week? And will we see the good Eli who has 24 fourth-quarter comebacks and two rings, or the downright awful Eli who threw four picks and 0 touchdowns in a three game slump from Week 8 to Week 10?Here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s slugfest:Drew Brees shows more cracks in his gameAfter single-handedly costing New Orleans the game and possibly their playoff hopes last week with a ridiculous five-interception game, Drew Brees is due for a bounce-back game, right? Wrong.Brees and the Saints are blessed with playing in the lowly NFC South and have been fortunate enough to play some of the worst defenses in the league in their non-divisional matchups.What happened when they played against a real defense you might ask? Brees folded like a cheap suit.Well, almost. It has usually been more of a group effort, but as the team leader he puts the game on his shoulders and lately we’ve seen those shoulders just aren’t strong enough to carry the whole team.The Giants held Robert Griffin III to 163 yards through the air last week and while Brees is sure to beat that mark given the Saints’ reliance on the passing game, even the Giants' 22nd-ranked passing defense should come up with a couple of picks.He might not be the sole reason they lose this game, and he will probably put up at least 300 yards, but he and Joe Vitt are finding themselves out of their league without Payton calling the shots.The good Eli will show upEli and the offense actually played pretty well last week, for one half at least. Offensive penalties and an inability to convert red zone opportunities cost them the game, however.With this matchup possibly headed for a shootout, look for Eli to pick up his game as he has proven himself able to rise to the occasion countless times before. Another loss will make their road to the playoffs that much harder.Then again, the Saints have a way of making anyone look good this year as they boast the league’s third-worst pass defense. The Saints have been susceptible to play-action and tight ends have torn them up all year. Ahmad Bradshaw should get the ground game going and we can expect to see Martellus Bennett at the goal line again.The Giants’ defense will do just enoughNo one is mistaking the Giants’ defense for an elite unit right now, but they are capable of putting together a good game every now and then.While the Saints’ offensive line usually does a pretty good job buying time for Brees, they have some problems at right tackle thanks to injuries. We’ll see plenty of pressure on that side of the line and plenty of attention given to Saints tight end, Jimmy Graham.Graham has had his own struggles this year and the Giants have done well against tight ends so far. There should be no reason that New York doesn’t come out with this victory.That said, you never know after a month that has seen their division lead cut down to just one game after a few lackluster performances.    
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