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Why The Patriots Should Be Concerned About The Saints

Just like the Patriots, the Saints are one of the best coached teams in the league

Since 2018, New Orleans has only lost five road games under head coach Sean Payton - one without Drew Brees at quarterback.

The Saints are well-coached and have made the playoffs for four straight seasons now.

This Sunday's matchup between the Patriots and Saints will be full of compelling storylines; the Patriots are looking to build some momentum after winning their first game of the season last week, the Saints want to prove that they are still a threat in the NFC, even without their star wide receiver, Michael Thomas, and of course, losing Drew Brees to retirement. Also, both teams will feature two of the best coaches in the league.

I’m not predicting who I expect to win. Instead, I’m presenting three things the Patriots should be concerned about heading into this weekend’s showdown against the Saints.

Don't fall into the trap game trap

Even though Bill Belichick has a history of focusing on one week at a time and not looking ahead, this could be the one week it would be really easy to look past the Saints and start thinking about that week 4 matchup against Tom Brady's Buccaneers.

Why am I worried this could be a trap game for the Patriots?

Well for starters, even though Belichick respectfully declined to answer any questions about Brady or anything related to week 4's highly anticipated game, the media, fan base, and even Brady's camp have been talking about Brady's past and future.

On Wednesday, NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran was on tv reporting and tweeting live in Tampa. He even tweeted out to the world that they got an early jump on that week 4 matchup.

Curran also had Tom Brady Sr. on his podcast this week discussing his son's Patriots tenure and departure. He did not hold back on how the Brady family feels about the way things ended in New England.

The Boston Herald even got in on the Tom Brady saga this week. Karen Guregian wrote a column on her interview with Brady's trainer, Alex Guerrero, who more or less ripped Bill Belichick and stated that Brady no longer felt wanted in New England and that the front office wasn’t giving him enough reason to stay.

All this went down this week and yet the Patriots still have a home game against the Saints.

The Patriots just need to be careful and focus on beating the Saints.

The Saints defense

Early in the season, New Orlean's defense is tied at No. 4 in takeaways and turnover margin. The defense is also No. 4 against red-zone scoring.

The talented Saints defense is getting some key players back this week. Marshon Lattimore and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will return after being reported inactive for the Carolina game. The pesky Gardner-Johnson is expected to defend the Patriots' tight ends or slot receivers, and Lattimore will likely be assigned to Nelson Agholor. 

The Saints should feel good about Lattimore covering Agholor because he had pretty good games against him in the past. 

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In 2018 Agholor only saw two targets in a game the Eagles lost to the Saints 48-7. Lattimore had an interception in that game.

In 2019 Agholor faced the Saints defense again, this time as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders. He once again wasn't very effective. For the whole game, Agholor had one catch for 19 yards.

The New Orleans defensive line destroyed the Packer's offensive line in their week 1 matchup. As a matter of fact, Aaron Rodgers was under pressure the whole game. 

Edge rushers Cam Jordan, Payton Turner, Carl Granderson, and Tanoh Kpassagnon will look to pressure and rattle Mac Jones. 

All-Pro Demario Davis is among the league's best linebackers and an elite run defender. He has the athleticism to track down plays from sideline to sideline. The 32-year-old veteran has registered at least 110 tackles in four straight seasons.

The Saints defensive line matching up against the Patriot's offensive line is going to be fascinating. New England's offensive line is supposed to be a strong point this year, but thanks to some injuries, the unit has not been able to live up to the hype.

In Week 2, the NFL's third-ranked rush defense made necessary adjustments at halftime to counter Christian McCaffrey's effectiveness on screen passes.

 Something to keep an eye on is the speed of the Saints' linebackers. Both Demario Davis and Zack Baun should be able to neutralize James White, who has had an impressive start to the season and appears to be Mac Jone's safety valve if nobody else is open.

Alvin Kamara

Don't let Alvin Kamara's slow start to the season and quiet week 2 performance fool you. Even though Kamara had more carries (8) than rushing yards (5) last week in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the 4x pro bowler is still one of the best running backs in the NFL.

In his fifth season now, the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year has been a touchdown machine. 

His stat line is remarkably consistent too. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the star running back caught 81 passes out of the backfield. 

Last season was even more impressive. He put up 1,688 total yards on offense, catching 83 passes, and scoring 21 touchdowns.

“I feel like if you were to maybe try to build a perfect back, I mean, he essentially has everything you need,” Hightower said. “Vision, balance. He’s strong. He’s tough. However you want to give him the ball, you can give it to him.

“Whether it’s screens, you want to throw it to him, you want to hand it off, I mean, he’s just a really good player. Explosive. So, I mean, you can hand off a ball to him and expect maybe a three- or four-yard run, he’ll turn it into a 75-yard touchdown. He’s just that type of player.”

Early on, New England’s front seven hasn’t been great against the run. Last week that defensive unit allowed 152 yards rushing to the Jets rookie Michael Carter and Ty Johnson. 

If the Patriots are unable to contain Kamara, he could single-handedly put the Saints offense on his back.