For some reason, when thinking of this upcoming game, I think back to the movie Rocky III that my dad took me to see a couple decades back.
In particular I'm thinking of Mickey as he yells to Rocky, "You can't win Rock!"... and of course, Rocky didn't, he got pummeled by Clubber Lang like rag doll facing off against a rabid pit bull.
It's true that anything can happen on any given Sunday. But it is also true that there will be no Wilfork anchoring the D-line, and if there is a Kelly out there on the D-line, it is likely to be a gimpy one.
You really don't want to be going up against one of the more brilliant Offenses in the NFL, with a glaring weakness in your Defense. And the Patriots have a glaring weakness, right smack dab in trenches, the anchor point, that the rest of the Defense is forced to react to when its not getting it done.
Drew Brees is better than any QB the Patriots have faced by far this year, and Sean Payton is no slouch when it comes to drawing up game plans and exposing a Defense's weakness.
The Saints have a very capable group of running backs, that are overshadowed by Drew Brees and his record breaking passing attack. They pass by choice, unlike the Packers and Rodgers, or Brady in the past, when they had no dependable running game to lean on, and the game's outcome hung in the balance of their passing ability.
Its very likely the Saints will reveal a well devised running attack against the Patriots, which in turn will open things up for the surgical like passes of Brees, who can fit a pass into the smallest of windows as good as Brady has ever been able to do.
The Patriots on the other hand, are still trying to work the kinks out on Offense, a difficult thing to do with rookies thrust into starting roles, and every veteran receiver on the roster out-of-sorts due to missed time because of injuries.
Making things worse for that Offense, will be the fact that they are facing Rob Ryan, who knows Brady and BB all too well, as he used to be on the Patriots staff during their years of winning Super Bowls. He has master minded one or two of the Patriots more humbling defeats in the last half-dozen years... and that was when he was the DC on teams that had offenses more inept than what we have seen out of the Patriots this season.
So we have one of the best, if not the best, offense in the NFL coming to face off against a Defense that is suddenly without its all-pro NT/DT and anchor of the Defense.
And we have a struggling Patriots Offense that is going to be facing off against a resurgent Saints Defense being led by one of the few DCs that has had the Patriots' number, and that they have struggled against even when they were playing their best football.
The script for this game is not a pretty one... the Patriots could easily be handed one of their worst defeats of the last dozen years. And come to think of it, back in 2009 it was the Saints that handed them one of their worst defeats of the past dozen years.
Of course, there is always a chance things can go off script.... but I don't think its a very good chance.