A Battle Of Legends

Intriguing Game- Week Two

New England Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)

Patriots: Last Thursday was the worst that I’ve ever seen them look. The offense was neutralized and even the best in the business at his position is due for an off game and that’s exactly what we saw from Brady. He wasn’t on the same page with his receivers, Gronk was shut down for most of the game and their biggest problem came on the defensive side of the ball. The Patriots don’t have a true pass rusher and every year, they’ve always had a guy and that was his specialty. Chris Long last season, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Richard Seymour and Rob Ninkovich are a few who had that role and if they don’t get this fixed soon, it could be a really long season for the defending Super Bowl champions. After Julian Edelman got hurt and was done for the year, everyone stated that they’d be fine and the next guy was going to have to step it up and no team is better at the next man up than the New England Patriots. Whenever Gronk has been taken away (which is rare), Brady has always had that other option to get the ball too and it was Edelman. He didn’t have that last week and he looked lost without him. I’ll never count them out or throw the towel in on them because three other times in the Belichick era, they’ve lost their first game of the year and they would still find a way to win it all and bring the Lombardi back to Foxboro. When that game against Kansas City was ending, I saw an angry Tom Brady and when he’s mad, he’s at his best. They’ve had more than enough time to review the tape of everything that went wrong and as Belichick would say, it’s on to New Orleans.

Saints: I remember at one time, the New Orleans Saints were one of those teams that you really had to prepare for and worry about because their offense was so dynamic and had the ability to score at any time. They were also a serious contender and anytime you have Drew Brees under center, you have a chance to win. It hasn’t been like that so much in the last few seasons. They’ve struggled. Three straight years of 7-9 records and no playoff appearances. The offense has still been one of the best in the league and that’s no shocker especially when you have a guy like Drew Brees anchoring everything. They can score 30 points per game against anybody but their biggest problem has been their defense and the lack of effort and communication to stop someone. Anything that can go wrong for their defense does go wrong. They get no type of pressure on the quarterback, they blow a lot of coverages, they don’t tackle and they get physically dominated off the line of scrimmage four to five yards per play and they can never get off the field. Sam Bradford had a field day facing the Saints defense on Monday night. They can’t get to the quarterback without blitzing and that’s another thing that kicks them down because you can only do that for so long until the other teams start to pick up on what it is that you’re doing. What a home opener this will be. The Superdome is always a live environment and defending Super Bowl champions are in town.

Patriots Player To Watch: Danny Amendola– Replacing the production of Julian Edelman is much easier said than done. But somebody has to step up and be that guy that can make that catch over the middle and Amendola can. When Brady can’t get the ball to Gronk, Edelman was always the second receiver of choice. It’s time for Danny to step it up while Cooks gets more acclimated to the system.

Saints Player To Watch: Ted Ginn Jr– Willie Snead is suspended for the first three games of 2017. The Saints signed Ted Ginn from the divisional rival Panthers and he’s still a productive receiver. He’s a veteran, something the Saints haven’t had on the offensive side of the ball since the days of Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Ted can be used in the backfield, in the slot, out wide so use his versatility as much as you can.

Final Analysis: This game has some big storylines. This will mark the return of Brandin Cooks who was traded to the Patriots this offseason after being drafted by the New Orleans Saints and this is also a match up of legendary quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Drew Brees. This could also be the final time that we’ll see these two square off against each other. As early as this is, this is a must win game for the Patriots and nobody bounces back better from a loss like New England. There’s nothing the Saints would want more than to upset the defending champs.

Prediction: Patriots 35 Saints 31