Halftime: Patriots Extend Lead to 17-7 on Saints

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots are leading the Saints 17-7 after 30 minutes in week six.

The New England Patriots have played perhaps their most solid 30 minutes of football this season, and lead the New Orleans Saints 17-7 at halftime in week six.

New England has been moving the ball very effectively on offense, scoring on three long drives thus far.  Quarterback Tom Brady has been sharp, completing 16 of 22 passes.  His favorite targets have been rookie receiver Aaron Dobson and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.

The running game has also been a huge boost to the offense for the Patriots today.  New England finally turned back to Stevan Ridley, who has been hitting the hole fast and hard all game.  He picked up both of New England's touchdowns on the way to 61 first half rushing yards.

The most concerning element of the Patriots offense has been the pass protection, which has been in a word, awful.

Defensively, the Saints haven't tried to run the ball much on the Patriots.  New England shut out Jimmy Graham in the first half by shadowing Aqib Talib on him on nearly every snap.  The pass rush has been just enough to rush Brees on a few throws.  The only area where the Saints have seen success is on the check-downs to the running backs.  They've created some mismatches on linebackers and have taken advantage.

There's still 30 minutes of football to play, and I've got a feeling the Saints offense will have something to say in this one.  Nonetheless, it was an encouraging first half from the Patriots.

The Saints will get the ball to begin the second half.

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