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Sunday NFL thoughts: Comparing '17 Patriots to '14 Patriots, what to expect of Saints, and more

A look at the Patriots and Saints as they head into their week two matchup.

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

1. Prior to the season, the 2017 New England Patriots were regularly compared to one of the greatest teams of all time, the 2007 Patriots who finished the regular season with the first and so far only 16-0 record. However, last week's loss against the Kansas City Chiefs put an early end to those comparisons - while creating a new one: the 2014 Patriots.

Like 2017 team, the 2014 Patriots started their season with a blowout loss after a) being highly competitive at halftime and b) experimenting with players (Jordan Devey/Jordan Richards). While the team lost to the Miami Dolphins on 2014 opening day, a game against the Chiefs ultimately turned out to be the season's turning point. Whether it will also be this year remains to be seen. But if New England is able to win today, expect the comparisons to the team that won Super Bowl XLIX to stay.

2. The Patriots try to avoid an 0-2 start against the New Orleans Saints later today. The franchise has not started a season with consecutive losses in 15 years, the last coming in 2001: After losing on opening day, New England lost in week two as well - all while losing starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe to injury. The man who replaced him that day, Tom Brady, led the team to its first Super Bowl victory and since becoming a starter has never started a season 0-2.

3. The Boston Herald's Adam Kurkjian has taken a look at some of the most lopsided regular season losses if the Belichick-Brady Patriots: Overall, the team has suffered seven 20+ points defeats since Brady took over as a starter and New England bounced back with a victory on six of seven occasions. The lone exception came in 2009 and the Saints were involved. After losing 38-17 in New Orleans, the Patriots fell to the Miami Dolphins the next week as well.

4. Speaking of the Saints: Don't expect New Orleans' offense to look much different from last week's. This means that the team will likely feature its top three wide receivers – Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon Coleman – on a regular basis. How regular? In week one against the Minnesota Vikings, the trio was on the field for 30 of the team's 62 offensive snaps. 20 of those 30 snaps resulted in passing plays.

5. We are 16 games into the 2017 regular season and so far, blowouts have been the recurring theme: Thursday night's game between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals was only the fifth contest that was decided by a score or less. Of course, as teams get into more of a rhythm the number of blowouts should decrease – but it puts some New England's week one loss into some context.

6. Some interesting statistical notes: Tom Brady and Drew Brees combine for 922 touchdown passes – which makes for the most by two opposing quarterbacks since the merger in 1970 (via NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano). Chris Hogan leads the Patriots in yards per carry (5.7, on three rushing attempts). The Patriots have two pass catchers of 40+ receiving yards – the Saints have five. New Orleans has run the ball 21 times last week: Nine came behind the right side of the offensive line, eight up the middle, and only four to the left.