After an abysmal first week the New Orleans Saints look to bounce back in a home performance against a New England Patriots team that also struggled last week. Last week, we saw the “new and improved” Saints defense fall flat on its face in Minnesota where they allowed 470 total yards- 341 through the air and 129 on the ground, while managing 1 sack and no turnovers. To be fair, the Vikings didn’t force a turnover either and only compiled a single sack as well, though Bress was walloped early on a play called back for offsides. Sean Payton did say that he was going to learn a lot about his new defense in that first game and I certainly hope he learned exactly what he needed and that Dennis Allen is going to be able to pull off a miraculous turnaround come Sunday.
While the defense was of concern, we also had the offense to worry about. Our, also “new and improved” running game garnered 60 total rushing yards on barely 20 carries among 5 rushers. Certainly not the start this backfield was expected to have. However, we did see rookie Kareem Hunt slice the Pats defense for 148 yards last week, so that’s the porous defense we should hope to face in the Dome. Meanwhile the ever-reliable Saints passing game took a major hit with the loss of Zach Strief in the 2nd quarter. The, already barren offenseive line loses another important piece which lead to increased pressure on Brees and not much time for long-developing routes. Hence all of the throws to the flats, screens, and jet sweeps we all groaned at the television about in the second half. Strief is out again this week, but the pass rush of the Patriots isn’t as ferocious as that of the Vikings.
All told, this is shaping up to potentially be the perfect rebound game for the Saints who own a 3-1 record against New England in the Brees era. The Pats will be without Dont’a Hightower, Danny Amendola, and Matthew Slater, meaning that the Pats defense, offense, and special teams are all down major contributors. The Pats offense, of course, still highlights with former Saint Brandin Cooks and human monster truck Rob Gronkowski. Those two players alone will find ways to pester the Saints defense while the Patriots backfield creates another headache with the change-of-pace variation of Mike Gillislee, James White, and Dion Lewis. But will it be enough to counteract the damage Drew Brees and his band of bullies will do at home?
You think the Saints defense was bad giving up 470 yards and 29 points? The Pats gave up 537 yards and 42 points to a team with a single one-dimensional receiver. Not to speak ill of the Chiefs, but it’s not a mystery that New Orleans’ offense has a lot more wrinkles and a ton more complexities than what Kansas City brings to the table. One has to imagine that this will be a shootout akin to that of the Saints-Panthers game a few years back.
The Saints LB core played well last week and I expect that to continue while we see improved secondary play from the hometown heroes as well. DeVante Harris will either be put in a position to turn things around (i.e. not be assigned to cover Cooks or DorsetT) or find the bench early in favor of Sterling Moore who didn’t play in Week 1. Ken Crawley is inactive again. The Saints and Pats will both come in to this one with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. But I give the edge to the home team to rebound from a tough first week loss. The Saints start hot with a TD catch from CGM and plays smart late to seal the victory thanks to some maybe insane/maybe genius Payton playcalling with his trio RBs.
Prediction – NO 35 – NE 31
Lagniappe – Marshon Lattimore has 2 PBUs | AD gets more than 9 carries | Chris Hogan finishes with more receiving yards than Brandin Cooks but Cooks doesn’t get mad about it.