This should be a fantastic game, the Saints have been rolling and until last week with bad weather the Patriots have been finding different ways to pull out wins.
The return of Gronkowski should be an emotional lift to the Pats (especially Brady) after the uncharacteristic performance they just had against the Bengals.
If you do it once it might be luck, if you can repeat you are probably on to something. But the Saints defense has turned in 5 very good performances this year and are a key reason the Saints are 5-0.
Payton is a master at adapting in-game to what the defense is giving him. This week will be no exception, if the Pats concentrate on taking away Graham, then it should open up the game for Sproles, Thomas, Colston, etc. in the passing game. With Wilfork being out for the Patriots and not shutting down the middle of the field, it will give the Saints running game on opportunity to get established. If the Saints still aren’t able to run, then Payton can always go back to the short controlled passing game. The final deciding factor is that the Saints are leading the league in time of possession, making it difficult for Brady to produce offense while he’s standing on the sidelines.
The Saints have been able to stop the run and put pressure on the opposing QB without blitzing, that said they showed in the Chicago game that to change up they can blitz effectively when they want to. There probably isn’t another team in the league that has had their offense effected by injuries and free agents leaving as much as the Patriots. Even with Gronkowski and Amendola coming back for the game against the Saints, the offensive line has looked sluggish and has had trouble keeping the pressure off of Brady. The key for the Saints defense to perform well enough for the Saints to win this week will be found in the trenches.
On offense, Brady will have to be able to shake the rust off of the Gronkowski and Amendola quickly. He’ll also have to find a way to get the running game going and to make it effective in slowing down the pressure that he’ll see from the Saints.
The key for the Patriots defense is to produce turnovers and three and outs. Even though the Saints are portrayed as a passing offense the secret to their success has been their ability to control the ball. If they can keep the Saints offense off the field it will make for a long day for the WhoDat nation.
Final Score: Saints 24 Patriots 17
Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab