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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Giants will get a real test against the Saints

New York has feasted on an easy schedule to go 5-0. But New Orleans (4-0) is no cupcake.

October 14, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

They don't pick 'em, they just play 'em. So there's no sense in knocking the New York Giants for their recent string of pushover opponents -- Tampa Bay (0-5), Kansas City (0-5) and Oakland (1-4) -- that surely have left their statistics artificially inflated.

The Giants (5-0) are ranked second in offense and first in defense, outgaining their last three foes by a combined 1,309 yards to 403.

That's what makes Sunday's game at New Orleans such a significant measuring stick. The Saints (4-0) are fresh off their open date and were last seen stomping the New York Jets, 24-10.

It was the Saints' defense that led the way in that game, forcing four Mark Sanchez turnovers and scoring on a fumble recovery in the end zone and a 99-yard interception return.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been limited to fewer than 200 yards passing in each of the last two games and will look to get back in the flow against a Giants defense that last Sunday limited Oakland to seven first downs and 124 yards of offense.

Then again, let's face it, those are the Raiders.

High five

In addition to the Giants and Saints, three other teams remain undefeated: Indianapolis, Denver and Minnesota, all 5-0.

The Vikings play host to Baltimore, the Broncos play at San Diego on Monday night, and the Colts have the week off.

Minnesota and Denver, in particular, will be tested over the next three weeks. After the Ravens, the Vikings play at Pittsburgh and at Green Bay in Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field. Coming off the San Diego game, the Broncos have a short week to prepare for a game at Baltimore, then play host to Pittsburgh on "Monday Night Football."

Does 2-2 mean tutus?

Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith ruffled some feathers in San Diego when he called the Chargers soft, but it's tough to argue with that assessment.

The team, which has $12 million this season invested in running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, is ranked last in rushing and 27th against the run.

With Denver threatening to run away with the AFC West, the Chargers have a chance to put the brakes on their slide against the Broncos.

The last time these teams met was in the 2008 regular-season finale, when the Chargers unleashed a 52-21 stomping, becoming the first team to make the playoffs after a 4-8 start. Tomlinson had a season-high three touchdowns in that game.

Tom Tepid

If there's a team that has fallen off the map it's the 0-5 Tennessee Titans, who were undefeated at this point last season and on their way to a 13-3 regular season.

New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose team plays host to the Titans on Sunday, knows about drop-offs. He hasn't been horrible this season, just average, and for the future Hall of Famer Brady -- coming off reconstructive knee surgery -- that's a big step down.

He's around the middle of the NFL pack in completion percentage (.614), touchdown passes (six) and passer rating (85.9).

At least he can look forward to this: In the Titans, he'll be facing a 31st-ranked pass defense that's giving up an average of 287.6 yards a game.

Best in the West

No team has really stepped forward to take control of the NFC West, with the 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals looking either excellent or awful at various points.

Seattle, coming off a 41-0 blanking of Jacksonville, looks to be getting healthy and could take a big step toward re-establishing its division dominance Sunday with a home game against Arizona.

Seahawks Coach Jim Mora certainly has high expectations.

"A lot of times you walk in after a game like that and the coach says, 'Hey, do it just like we did last week,' " Mora said after the Jacksonville shutout. "I don't want it to be just like it was last week. I want it to be better."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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