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Game Preview: Saints at Patriots

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WEEK 3 · Sun 09/26 · 1:00 PM EDT

Saints

New Orleans Saints

AT

Patriots

New England Patriots

FOX / WFXT
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GILLETTE STADIUM

The New England Patriots return to the confines of Gillette Stadium and will begin a two-game stretch against the NFC South with home games against the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots are an NFL-best 59-17 (.776) against the NFC since realignment in 2002, the best inter-conference record in the NFL during that time.

SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

Points figure to be at a premium when the Patriots and Saints go at it Sunday in Foxborough.

When the Patriots run - Edge: Saints

Heading into the season it was expected that the Patriots would rely heavily on the run and play behind their dominant offensive line. Through the first two games that hasn't exactly been the case. One reason for that was the loss of right tackle Trent Brown to a calf strain suffered on the first series of the opener. Without Brown the Patriots haven't been able to consistently generate yards on the ground. Damien Harris has run hard and been tough to tackle, but his production has been sporadic. He has managed a pair of long runs – a 35-yarder in the opener and an impressive 26-yard touchdown run Sunday at the Meadowlands. Otherwise it's been tough sledding. Taking out the 61 yards he picked up on those two attempts, Harris has carried 37 times for 101 yards. Those two carries count, however, and overall he's averaging 4.2 yards per carry for the season – solid if unspectacular. New Orleans is outstanding against the run, allowing 66 yards per game (third in the league) and just 2.8 yards per attempt (second). Those numbers include a solid effort against Carolina's Christian McCaffrey, who was limited to 72 yards on 24 carries (3-yard average) last week. The Saints front includes Cameron Jordan, Christian Ringo, Shy Tuttle and Carl Granderson in front of linebackers Demario Davis, Zack Baun and Andrew Dowell. That front seven has dominated despite the absence of defensive tackle David Onyemata, who won't play against the Patriots as he continues serving his suspension to open the season.

When the Patriots pass - Edge: Saints

Mac Jones has been quite efficient in his first two starts, completing nearly 74 percent of his passes. But his 6.2 yards per pass play ranks just 23rd in the league, and the Saints stingy secondary will make it tough to improve on that total. However, New Orleans is dealing with some significant health issues on the back end. Both Marshon Lattimore (hand) and C.J. Gardner-Johnson (knee) missed the Panthers game and will be playing at less than 100 percent if they return for the Patriots. Also, Marcus Davenport, one of the Saints best pass rushers, is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. That could help give the Patriots passing game a boost. Nelson Agholor did not build off his strong opener and Kendrick Bourne has been limited to three catches on the season. Jakobi Meyers leads the wideouts with 10 catches but for just 82 yards. James White is Jones' favorite target with 12 receptions through two games. The Patriots might need to get tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry more involved against the Saints tough pass defense. P.J. Williams, Paulson Adebo and newcomer Bradley Roby join Lattimore and Gardner-Johnson with veterans Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins at safety. It's a deep secondary that can take the ball away, and New Orleans also has the top-ranked red zone defense in football, which is not good news for a Patriots offense that has struggled to score.

When the Saints run - Edge: Patriots

New England is coming off a tough outing against the run in New York. The limited Jets rushing attack generated 152 yards on 31 carries, making the Patriots front look vulnerable throughout the day. But the Saints haven't been able to generate much on the ground through two weeks. Alvin Kamara is averaging just over 3 yards a carry with 88 yards on 28 attempts, although those numbers are skewed a bit by his eight-carry, 5-yard performance in Carolina on Sunday. Tony Jones has chipped in with 57 yards on 14 attempts, and head coach Sean Payton likes to use Taysom Hill as a runner on occasion as well. The Patriots will need to tighten up their run fits early to put the ball in Jameis Winston's hands. Kamara is a game-breaker and he figures to be the focal point of New England's defensive game plan. He's been off to a slow start this season, but that can change quickly if the Patriots linebackers aren't ready to deal with him as a runner and receiver. The Saints offensive line has also dealt with injuries as center Erik McCoy missed the Panthers game and was replaced by right guard Cesar Ruiz. Even at full strength the Saints have struggled to run the ball effectively and the Patriots should be able to improve on their Week 2 showing.

When the Saints pass - Edge: Patriots

Winston has been the ultimate trick-or-treat quarterback in the first two weeks. He tossed five touchdown passes in just 20 attempts in the opener but threw a pair of picks while passing for just 111 yards in Carolina the following week. Winston is last in the league in passing yards and the Patriots made life miserable on rookie Zach Wilson on Sunday. J.C. Jackson picked off a pair while Adrian Phillips and Devin McCourty had one each. Saints All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas remains out after undergoing ankle surgery, leaving New Orleans with limited weapons. Kamara is the leading receiver with just seven catches. Marquez Calloway, Deonte Harris, Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Chris Hogan comprise the wideout corps but have combined for just nine catches on the season. Tight ends Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson also chip in, but this is a very limited passing game. Winston has the ability to make throws and get hot, but he also is prone to mistakes and would appear to be the type of quarterback Bill Belichick loves to face. Winston faced the Patriots once when he was the quarterback in Tampa, completing 26 of 46 passes for 334 yards and a touchdown without an interception in a 19-14 loss. Look for Belichick to pressure Winston a bit to force some errant throws, which has been a problem for the former No. 1 overall pick throughout his career.

Special Teams - Edge: Patriots

Nick Folk just keeps making field goals and the Patriots have needed each and every one of them. He's 7-for-7 on the season and has now made 33 straight to set a franchise record for consecutive field goals. His last miss came last year in Seattle in Week 2 when he misfired from 51 yards out. He's needed to be that effective given the offense's struggles in the red zone. Saints kicker Wil Lutz is on IR so veteran Aldrick Rosas has taken his place. Rosas made his only field goal attempt but also is 6-for-6 on PATs. The punters are both solid with Jake Bailey putting four of his seven attempts inside the 20 while the Saints Blake Gillikin sporting an impressive 44.5-yard net on his eight kicks. Harris has been dangerous on kick returns, averaging 31.2 yards with a long of 39. The Patriots coverage against the Jets was a bit loose so it wouldn't be surprising to see Bailey opting for touchbacks this week. Harris also handles punts for New Orleans. The Patriots haven't gotten much out of their return game with Brandon Bolden (kicks) and Gunner Olszewski (punts) being held under wraps thus far.

QUARTERBACK COMPARISON

#10
2021_headshots_recropped__0042_Jones_Mac_2021
MAC JONES, QB, PATRIOTS
HT: 6-3 | WT: 217 | COLLEGE: ALABAMA
Table inside Article
SEASON COM ATT YDS TD INT LNG SK/YDS
2021 51 69 467 1 0 32 4/40
#2
This is a 2021 photo of Jameis Winston of the New Orleans Saints NFL football team. This image reflects the New Orleans Saints active roster as of Tuesday, July 27, 2021 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, SAINTS
HT: 6-4 | WT: 231 | COLLEGE: FLORIDA STATE
Table inside Article
SEASON COMP ATT YDS TD INT LNG SK/YDS
2021 25 42 259 5 2 55 4/31

TOP TWO SCORING TEAMS SINCE 2010

The New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints are the two highest scoring NFL teams since the 2010 season and the only teams to reach 5,000 points scored during that time frame.

MOST POINTS SCORED SINCE 2010

  • New England Patriots: 5,087
  • New Orleans Saints: 5,021
  • Green Bay Packers: 4,703
Patriots defense celebrates after making a play.
Patriots defense celebrates after making a play.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2021 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND NEW ORLEANS
Record 1-1 1-1
Divisional Standings 1st (T) 3rd
Total Yards Gained 653 450
Total Offense (Rank) 326.5 (23) 225.0 (32)
Rush Offense 113.0 (13) 109.5 (17)
Pass Offense 213.5 (25) 115.5 (32)
Points Per Game 20.5 (23) 22.5 (18T)
Touchdowns Scored 3 6
Third Down Conversion Pct. 50.0 33.3
Team Passer Rating 96.7 97.2
Total Yards Allowed 595 612
Total Defense (Rank) 297.5 (5) 306.0 (7)
Rush Defense 113.0 (14) 66.0 (3)
Pass Defense 184.5 (6) 240.0 (13)
Points Allowed/Game 11.5 (2T) 14.5 (6)
Possession Avg. 32:18 28:02
Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost 4/40 4/31
Sacks Made/Yards 6/43 4/26
Passing TD/Int. (Off.) 1/0 5/2
Passing TD/Int. (Def.) 1/5 2/3
Penalties Against/Yards 14/138 17/151
Punts/Avg. 7/45.4 8/49.6
Turnover Differential +3 (2T) +2 (4T)

SERIES HISTORY

Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft's first game as owner of the team was a 1994 preseason game at Foxboro Stadium against the Saints. The Patriots won that game 24-6.

The two teams will meet this week in New Orleans in the 15th meeting ever and the first meeting since the Patriots 36-20 win at New Orleans on Sept. 17, 2017.

The Patriots lead the all-time series, 10-4. The Patriots are 5-3 against New Orleans in home games, including 2-0 at Gillette Stadium.

CONNECTIONS

Former Patriots

  • DL Montravius Adams (2021)
  • WR Chris Hogan (2016-18)

Former Saints

  • RBC Vinnie Sunseri (Safety, 2016)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR...

  • The New England Patriots own a 59-17 (.776) record vs. NFC teams since realignment in 2002, the best inter-conference record in the NFL during that time.
  • The Patriots have gone 88 straight games (regular and postseason) scoring in the first half, an NFL record. The Patriots also own the second-longest streak at 82 games with a first-half score (2006-11). The last time the Patriots failed to score in the first half was a 16-0 loss at home against Buffalo on Oct. 2, 2016.
  • If the Patriots record four interceptions against the Saints, it will be the first time ever that the Patriots have secured four picks in back-to-back games.
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JULIAN EDELMAN CEREMONY

The Patriots will honor former WR Julian Edelman in a special halftime ceremony this week. He announced his retirement after 12 seasons with the Patriots this past spring. Edelman is second in team history with 620 receptions, fourth with 6,822 receiving yards and ninth with 36 receiving touchdowns. He sits second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions, behind Jerry Rice's 151 catches in the playoffs. He is one of 15 NFL players with at least 1,000 career postseason yards and his 1,442 postseason receiving yards are second all-time, behind the 2,245 playoff receiving yards by Rice. A member of three Super Bowl Championship teams, Edelman turned in key performances at crucial moments in all three Super Bowls wins. He was named Super Bowl LIII MVP after finishing with 10 receptions for 141 yards in the win vs. the Los Angeles Rams. Edelman finished with five receptions for 87 yards, including a miraculous 23-yard, diving, finger-tip catch late in the fourth quarter of the win vs. Atlanta in Super Bowl LI. He also caught the game-winning, 3-yard touchdown pass with 2:06 left to play in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl XLIX win vs. Seattle.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen locally on WFXT-TV Channel 25. Adam Amin will handle play-by-play duties with Mark Schlereth as the color analyst. Shannon Spake will report from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Barry Landis and directed by Mitch Riggin.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by ESPN Radio. Jay Alter and Rob Ninkovich will call the game. Sal Paolantonio will work the sidelines.

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 35 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

For information on how to stream the game please visit our Ways to Watch guide.

2021102-ClevelandSweeps-PDC

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