I haven't done this in a couple weeks, but I thought I'd throw out the Scouts, Inc. preview hidden behind the ever thoughtful Insider wall at ESPN.
The most important question for non Saints or 49ers fans is WHY TO WATCH:
While both clubs have the identical record, one team is building on recent victories and the other is struggling to find answers and recover their once-promising season...Look for a spirited NFC contest that will virtually doom the loser and keep the victor in a position to make some noise in the second half of the season.
We know what the 49ers defense can do, so let's check out what Scouts, Inc. thinks the 49ers can look forward to from the Saints defense:
PASSING - The New Orleans secondary has been marginal thus far giving up too many long plays. Gary Gibbs will use a two-deep zone coverage often and will mix in zone and man blitzes to pressure opponents. The Saints don't pressure opposing signal-callers well out of their base defense and it's likely that Gibbs will play tighter coverage on the 49ers' receivers and bring some type of blitz during passing situations. We should look for Hostler to use a controlled passing game to counter the pressure that the 49ers are likely to see in Week 8.
RUSHING - The Saints use a base 4-3 scheme and yield 100.7 yards per game. Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs will mix in some zone-run blitzes along with interior stunts to keep offenses off-balance. Twelve-year veteran Hollis Thomas anchors the middle of the Saints defense and two former first-round draft choices -- Charles Grant and Will Smith -- set the edges effectively. With the quarterback position for the 49ers in question it's likely they will force feed Gore and the power ground attack to set up an effective play-action passing game. The 49ers are a bit one-dimensional because their running game does not have great speed to get on the perimeter and this should give an advantage to the New Orleans defense.
If the 49ers are going to make things happen with the passing game, I think this is the perfect week. The Saints passing defense has been atrocious and a short, controlled passing game could be just the ticket to counter any offensive line issues. While many of us want to see Ashley Lelie make more of an impact, this is the type of game where Arnaz Battle and Darrell Jackson could excel. Scouts, Inc mentioned the potential use of play action, but we've seen the lack of that so far this season. Of course if the running game continues to improve, some PA passing could be just what the doctor ordered.
Once again I find myself gaining a little bit of confidence and hoping this is the week the team can turn things around, if only for a day.