The New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints are both teams that have had decades of success but face turnover at the quarterback position in 2021. Like the Patriots, the Saints come into Sunday’s matchup at 1-1 with a very impressive 35-3 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 followed by a disappointing 26-7 loss in Week 2 to the Carolina Panthers, so it is uncertain which Saints team will show up this week.
It’s an interesting matchup as both teams’ strengths will square off — the Saints’ strong run defense versus the Patriots’ power rushing attack, while the Patriots’ inconsistent passing game will try to exploit the Saints’ secondary. Sunday’s contest has the makings for one of the more entertaining games of the year for New England.
Let’s get into the keys to a Patriots win in Week 3 ...
Take more shots down the field
Channel the Tom Brady quote to Bill Belichick: “It’s a great day to throw.” With nothing but sunshine in the forecast and the Saints’ banged-up defensive backfield this may be the game we see the Patriots allow Mac Jones to rip it a bit more. We have seen the Patriots take a conservative approach with their rookie quarterback through the first two weeks and it has cost them opportunities to put the ball in the end zone and finish drives. However, with Jones only getting more and more comfortable as the weeks pile up, look for Josh McDaniels to open things up for him a bit on Sunday. Facing a Saints offense that is high-powered and can put points up in a hurry if they’re rolling, the Patriots will need to finish drives and put points on the board to come away with a win on Sunday.
Win in the trenches
This is generally the case every game, but with the Patriots struggling to find consistency through the air, the offensive line will need to help carry the load on Sunday after a rough start to the season. The Saints have had one of the league’s best run defenses for the last few seasons and have held their opponents to just 132 yards on the ground through the first two games. Although Damien Harris has been the key cog offensively for the Patriots, the Patriots’ offensive line will need to dominate up front to establish some sort of running game early on and then allow Jones to settle in and have more time to throw. With Cam Jordan and Demario Davis making things happen along the front seven, New England’s offensive line will need to be much better in pass protection Sunday if they want a chance to throw the ball on the Saints’ secondary.
Limit Alvin Kamara’s opportunities in space
It is obviously a task that is much easier said than done, however, if the Patriots want to be successful defensively, they’ll need to limit one of the best running backs in the league’s big-play opportunities. Sean Payton does a fantastic job with his personnel and loves to flash the versatility of Kamara lining him up all over the place. A Patriots run defense that is giving up just under five yards per carry to start the season will have a tough task with Kamara’s ability between the tackles and as a pass catcher.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Saints 14