The New Orleans Saints road trip continues for another week. Their latest stop will be at Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on the New England Patriots. The Saints are trying to bounce back from last week’s embarrassing 26-7 loss to division rival the Carolina Panthers.
At the time, New Orleans was without eight position coaches and was missing a plethora of talent on defense. Based on recent reports, four out of the eight coaches missing in Week 2 due to COVID-19 have returned to the organization.
Those four coaches are running backs coach Joel Thomas, receivers coach Curtis Johnson, offensive analyst Jim Chaney, and special teams assistant Phil Galiano. Four more coaches — assistant head coach/defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen, tight ends coach Dan Roushar, pass-rush specialist Brian Young and offensive assistant Declan Doyle — have yet to return from the COVID-19 protocol. In regards to the injury report, there are signs of hope.
Players such as Marshon Lattimore, CJ Gardner-Johnson, Payton Turner, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Pete Werner, PJ Williams, and Clavin Throckmorton are expected to play versus the Patriots, according to reporter Nick Underhill. Having those players available for this Sunday’s game could mean the difference between the Saints winning and losing at Gillette Stadium. Let’s look at the keys to victory as we preview the Saints’ upcoming matchup against the Patriots.
Saints Important Keys to Victory Against the Patriots
1. Establish the Rushing Attack Early and Dominate
In two weeks, the Saints went from having the best running games in the league to one of the most non-productive units in the Sean Payton era. That cannot happen against New England. For a solid rushing performance to even manifest, the offensive line must communicate together as one unit. For whatever reason, that was not the case last week against Carolina. The Saints only rushed for a total of 48 yards.
Head Coach Sean Payton made it clear that the communications issues on the offensive line would be corrected before the Saints’ next matchup, which is against the Patriots. Payton’s counterpart, Bill Belichick, will not allow a team’s best weapon to defeat him. New England may be ranked as the fifth-best unit for total defense, but they struggle to defend the run.
In two games so far, the Patriots rush defense is giving up a total of 113.0 yards a game. While Belichick may neutralize the overall effectiveness of Alvin Kamara, a committed rushing attack can open up other opportunities for the Saints’ offense to capitalize against New England’s defense.
2. Force Mac Jones to Defeat them Without the Script
While the Patriots do not have the same capabilities as the Carolina Panthers at the running back position, their offense is somewhat similar. Like the Panthers, New England does not throw the football deep down the field. They are highly proficient in the short to the intermediate passing game. The Saints’ defense must take away those elements of the Patriots’ offense and force quarterback Mac Jones to beat them through the air.
The only actual outside threat for New England right now is Nelson Agholor. His fellow teammate Kendrick Bourne has yet to make an impact with the team so far. With cornerback Marshon Lattimore possibly back in the lineup, the Saints’ defense will be far improved compared to the previous week.
The Saints are a better team on paper than the New England Patriots, even with the various injuries. It’s just that simple. As long as New Orleans can takeaway what New England does best on offense, they will win this football game. Suppose they can eliminate the Patriots’ ability to get the football to their playmakers quickly. In that case, it will force Jones to figure out another way to win the game, but the Saints’ defense may be too difficult for him to adjust appropriately.
Saints 24, Patriots 21
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