Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints: Preview and Prediction

Everything you need to know before the Kansas City Chiefs take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in Week 15 of the NFL season.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs head to New Orleans to face the 10-3 New Orleans Saints. This game will reportedly bring the return of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has been out since Week 10. In his absence has been Taysom Hill, who has been passable with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in those four starts, in which the Saints have gone 3-1. Of course, one of those games was against the Denver Broncos, who had more interceptions than completed passes, and their loss was to the Philadelphia Eagles in Jalen Hurts' first career start, so that has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Fact to Know: The Saints have the top defense by EPA since Week 9

The Saints defense is the league's best defense since Week 9 for Expected Points Added (EPA) with a -0.211 EPA allowed per play, -0.317 EPA allowed per rush and a -0.137 EPA allowed per dropback. They also have the league's best success rate with just a 34.3% success rate for opposing offenses. In this time frame, Demario Davis has been back to his dominant self from 2019, getting three games of an 89 grade or higher from Pro Football Focus (PFF) after having one game above a 65 grade in the first nine weeks. For the pass rush, they have had David Onyemata and Cameron Jordan with 22 pressures and Trey Hendrickson with 20 pressures and five sacks. In comparison, the Chiefs' only pass rushers with more than seven pressures in that time frame are Chris Jones (21), Frank Clark (17) and Tershawn Wharton (11).

Matchup to Watch: Marshon Lattimore vs. Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill is still on fire, as he racked up 111 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins last week. That gets Hill to 1,280 scrimmage yards and 16 total touchdowns on the season, with 10 touchdowns since Week 7. With this incredible production, Hill has cemented himself as the best wide receiver in the NFL at the moment besides Davante Adams of the Packers. 

Marshon Lattimore, the Saints' top cornerback, has been having a rough season, with six touchdowns allowed (double his career-high) and a career-low PFF grade of 49.2 at the moment. Lattimore also has just five combined interceptions and pass breakups, with his career-low for his first three seasons being 10. If Lattimore has to be on Hill, he's going to need to go back to rookie-Lattimore levels or it could be ugly for the Saints.

Key to the Game: Can the Saints slow down Travis Kelce?

Travis Kelce is fully in the running, and potentially even the front runner, for Offensive Player of the Year, as he is putting on arguably the greatest tight end season of all-time. He is well on his way to breaking the single-season receiving yards record for a tight end and may become the first tight end to ever lead the NFL in receiving yards. No one is on his level at the moment. Priority number one for the Saints in this game should be to do everything they can to slow Kelce down. Linebackers Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander and safety Malcolm Jenkins are likely the main players that will be given this difficult task, perhaps along with defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson. 

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Saints 17

The Saints defense is quite the challenge, but you have to expect Patrick Mahomes to still produce against any defense in the history of football. Expect a couple of touchdowns from Mahomes to Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs' defensive challenges get tougher with Brees at quarterback, but perhaps Tyrann Mathieu can make some more big plays on the ball or Juan Thornhill can get his first interception since Week 4.