The New England Patriots were stunned in their home opener by the Kansas City Chief, 42-27, thanks in part to some big fourth-down stops by the Chiefs defense and aggressive offense.
Although the Patriots put up 27 points on a solid Kansas City defense, they made uncharacteristic mistakes – including not being able to convert on some crucial fourth down plays.
It’s obvious quarterback Tom Brady is missing wide receiver Julian Edelman – but it’s also likely that wide receiver Brandin Cooks will be a solid replacement for the season.
The Pats are now preparing for Week 2 where they will take on quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints – who are coming off a 29-19 Monday night loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Saints are already at a disadvantage having the short week while New England has had 10 days to prepare – but New England will have to clean up their mistakes from their home opener in order to pull off a win.
They will also take the field without wide receiver Danny Amendola (concussion/knee) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) as both players have officially been ruled out for Sunday’s game.
The game plan for the Patriots should be simple: go back to what works and establish the passing game early with the running backs and incorporate a two-tight-end-offense. Allow the offense to dictate the tempo of each play.
The Saints, however, are stacked in their running back position with Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara and –despite the team losing to the Vikings on Monday night — one should never count Brees out – especially at home.
New England also has one explosive weapon that puts the Saints at a major disadvantage – running back Mike Gillislee, who rushed for three touchdowns against the Chiefs.
Look for Brady to target Gillislee early and often – if he can get through the Chiefs defense, there’s no telling what he will do on Sunday.
Both teams are coming off tough defeats and will want to use that as motivation to get their first win of the season. The thing about this game is that one great team will start the 2016 season 0-2 and only eight percent of NFL teams make the playoffs after starting the season 0-2.
However, even if the Patriots do indeed succumb to the Saints on Sunday, there’s no way New England doesn’t win their crippled AFC East division.
Stopping Brees at home is no easy task and the New England defense is going to have make some major improvements from their first game in order to improve to 1-1 on the season. The key to that will be stopping the Saints in the red zone and only holding them to field goals – much like Minnesota did on Monday.
Aside from stopping Brees, New England needs to avoid turnovers, tighten up their defense and execute the red zone – which means the passing game will be crucial in order for the Patriots to win this game.
New England will need to put up at least 30 points on New Orleans if they want to come out victorious. They will need to stop Peterson and Ingram on offense and take advantage of the young defense the Saints have with starting three rookies on their D-line.
Minnesota ran all over the Saints and allowed Vikings’ quarterback Sam Bradford to complete 27 of his 32 passes for 346 total yards. If the defense looks like that against New England, they will be in serious trouble.
The Patriots will need to contain the New Orleans defense early, make important red zone stops and most importantly, force the Saints into kicking field goals while New England scores the touchdowns.
New England’s defense will need to step up and fill the void of a missing Hightower and the offense will need to score early and often and take a comfortable lead into the locker room at halftime.
Brady will need to find a higher success in passing this week than he did in the opening game and will have to throw at least 40 passes.
Final score: New England: 38, New Orleans: 28