NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (0-1)
at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (0-1)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: New England -6.5, Total: 55.5
The Patriots will be hoping to avoid what would be a surprising 0-2 start by defeating the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday.
The Patriots hosted the Chiefs in the NFL’s season opener last week, and nobody expected the defending champions to lose that one. New England was an eight-point favorite in that meeting with Kansas City, but the team ultimately lost 42-27. The Chiefs racked up 537 yards of total offense in that game, and the Patriots know that they’ll need to correct a lot of things before this meeting with the Saints. New Orleans’ offense did not show up in a 29-19 loss as a three-point underdog in Minnesota in Week 1, but the Saints have firepower offensively and will get back on track sooner rather than later. And they’ll be looking forward to getting back home, where they are 1-1 SU but 2-0 ATS versus the Patriots since 192. One trend that suggests New England might get back on track here is the fact that the team is 13-3 ATS off an upset loss by 10 points or more under head coach Bill Belichick. The Pats are also 9-2 ATS after playing a Thursday game under their head coach, which suggests they usually respond when getting an extra couple of days to prepare. It’s not all good for the Patriots, though. The Saints happen to be a ridiculous 19-7 as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points under head coach Sean Payton. They’re also 25-10 ATS off a road loss under their lead man.
The Patriots did not defend at a high enough level in last week’s loss to the Chiefs and one area of concern is back in the secondary. New England invested heavily in the defense in the offseason, bringing in CB Stephon Gillmore, so this is definitely not supposed to be an issue. Perhaps it was just a fluke, but the Patriots’ defensive backs must be ready to play well in coverage against a team that loves to throw the ball. But there is also room for improvement everywhere, as the Pats definitely did not expect to get gashed for 148 yards on the ground by Kareem Hunt last game. The team needs to do a better job defending the run against New Orleans, and the defensive ends also need to find a way to get some pressure on Drew Brees. On offense, QB Tom Brady can definitely afford to play a bit better than he did in Week 1. Brady completed only 16 of his 36 passes for 267 yards and no touchdowns against the Chiefs. He’ll definitely be hoping to find the end zone at least twice on Sunday. But New England would also have no problems with offseason acquisition RB Mike Gillislee rushing for another three scores. The former Bill was extremely effective with his touches and should be in for another good game here, as the Saints were a disaster against the run versus the Vikings.
The Saints also struggled defensively in their first game, as they allowed rookie Dalvin Cook to rush for 127 yards and also gave up 346 yards and three touchdowns through the air to the mediocre Sam Bradford. If New Orleans plays that same type of defense on Sunday then Tom Brady and the Patriots are going to score at least 40 points against them. New Orleans must also find a way to move the football, but the expectation is that it shouldn’t be a problem moving forward. The Saints faced a tough Vikings defense in a hostile environment, but they’ll regroup a bit and find some success against an average Patriots defense. QB Drew Brees will definitely want to improve upon his performance in that game against Minnesota, as he threw for only one touchdown and a lot of his 291 yards through the air came when the game was already out of hand. Expect him to bounce back and perform at a high level here. The Saints will, however, need to figure out what to do at the running back position, as both Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson can’t possibly be happy with the timeshare they’re currently a part of. The problem for both of those guys is that rookie RB Alvin Kamara just might be the most talented runner on the team.