The New Orleans Saints (10-3) return home after a 3 game road trip to battle the defending Super Bowl Champion, Kansas City Chiefs (12-1). In this potential Super Bowl preview, the Saints return QB Drew Brees to the gridiron after missing 4 games to a rib/lung injury and now sit in a prime position to close the regular season on a high note and clinch a division title.
Below the Saints News Network Krewe shares their Keys to a Saints Victory in a potential "Game of the Year" candidate against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Secondary Play
The New Orleans defensive backs have played terrific football after some struggles over the first month of the year. Over the last six games, they've allowed just 54% completion percentage and three touchdown passes to opposing quarterbacks while intercepting 9 of their 13 passes on the season. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins are a big key to that success.
They've allowed only a 56% completion percentage rate when targeted this season, with 4 interceptions and 17 passes broken up. Kansas City has the speed of a 4×100m relay team at wide receiver. Tyreek Hill is one of the league's most feared receivers and has 77 receptions for 1,158 yards and a league-high 14 touchdowns.
They have outstanding depth with former Pro Bowler Sammy Watkins, Pro Bowl kick returner Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson, all deadly threats in the open field. Slowing down record-breaking TE Travis Kelce is also an unsuccessful endeavor for most teams. Kelce leads the Chiefs with 90 receptions for 1,250 yards and 9 touchdowns and has eclipsed the 100-Yd mark in five of the last six games.
I expect the Saints to guard Kelce with a combination of linebackers Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander, and S Malcolm Jenkins while using S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to help slow the Kansas City wide-outs with Lattimore and Jenkins. The New Orleans corners should be physical with the smaller Chiefs wide-outs to prevent a free release off the line of scrimmage but will be challenged to stay with them in the open field.
Free safety Marcus Williams, who has 3 interceptions and tied with Janoris for the team lead, must also make proper reads and sure tackles to prevent big plays. It’s something that Williams struggled with early in the year, but he’s played extremely well over the second half of the season.
Kyle T. Mosley
Sean Payton. Period.
This game and the playoffs hinge on Coach Payton's preparation for the New Orleans Saints to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. No more nonsense, experiments, and trickery. If the Saints win, it starts and ends with head coach Sean Payton.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Match the Energy
The Saints enter Week 15 as underdogs at home against the Chiefs, and the deck is stacked against them with no Michael Thomas. While New Orleans has plenty of weapons still, mainly Drew Brees returning from injured reserve, they simply need to come in on Sunday and match the energy from Kansas City.
This game is being built up as a potential Super Bowl preview, and both teams are looking to prove something. New Orleans is trying its best to keep pace with Green Bay, but more importantly they are trying to wrap up the NFC South. You have to do your best to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs offense. It won't take a perfect game plan, but rather a well-executed one. This game could come down to who has the ball last.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Time of Possession
The Saints are facing the toughest game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs. New Orleans should have met Kansas City two years ago, but now is a good time for both teams to go head-to-head for the no. 1 seed. Saint's head coach Sean Payton and Chiefs' head coach Andy Reid are two of the NFL's top offensive minds over the past 15-20 years. The KEY to this game will be time of possession.
Drew Brees will be the starting quarterback on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, per multiple sources, and coming off of 11 broken ribs the offensive line MUST do their job well. The defense will have to be stellar as they’ve been this season, especially against the league's top offense. And special teams will have to step their game up, specifically K Wil Lutz who finds himself in a funk. New Orleans is in a tight race with the Green Bay Packers (10-3) for the top seed in the NFC so this game becomes a must win to stay in the hunt for the NFC's lone first round BYE.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Bend But Don't Break
The New Orleans Saints have their hands full defensively this week as they battle the NFL's top offense and the league's best young quarterback. Despite Drew Brees returning to the lineup, I am not sold that the Saints could afford to get into a shootout with the Chiefs and come out victorious.
Sustaining long offensive series and keeping Mahomes and Co. off the field will be key but perhaps even more important is seeing the Black and Gold defense return to peak form after a subpar effort last Sunday. New Orleans surrendered just two touchdowns in a five-week span and allowed the offense to remain in the game with a bend but don't break mentality. The same mindset will be needed in Week 15 for the Saints to come away with a victory inside the Superdome.
For all the latest New Orleans Saints News & Rumors follow:
The Saints News Network at www.saints.media.
Continue to follow all Saints’ coverage on Social Media with Saints News Network at @SaintsNews on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook