AJ Spirito- Pats Militia
We’re onto New Orleans.
Yeah, yeah, that’s what every Pats fan has been saying over the past ten days since New England was embarrassed at home against Kansas City on banner night.
I would love to sit here and throw the Patriots defense under the bus but honestly one game isn’t enough for me to call this defense garbage just yet.
The week one nightmare is over with now so let’s “bury the ball”, as Coach Belichick would say, and move on.
Okay so is this game going to be the usual Patriots bounce back, statement win? We’ve seen it countless times in the Brady/Belichick Era, the most recent coming in 2014 with that “Onto Cincinnati” game.
I think the Pats win this game but I’m not so sure about it being a statement blowout like that 2014 game. There’s just too many questions on this team still and I don’t think the chemistry is quite there. It will get there in time but not just yet.
On the defensive side of the ball I really don’t have any moderate expectation at all. This defense let Alex Smith go 28 for 35 for nearly 400 yards on them. If an average quarterback can do that kind of damage then what could an elite caliber QB like Drew Brees do to them? Brees may not have a great supply of weapons on his offense (I’m sure he misses Brandin Cooks very much) but he is still Drew Brees. He can make no name receivers look like all-pros, just like Brady can.
Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore are going to have to play their asses off today to save this defense. There is roughly $18 million dollars being dealt to the cornerback duo and they have looked very shaky through the preseason and week one, especially Butler.
Stopping the New Orleans running game may be a mess for New England as well with Dont’a Hightower out with a knee injury. That leaves the Patriots with a whole mess of mediocre players on their front seven (excluding Alan Branch and Trey Flowers).
So there’s definitely a huge concern for the defense going into this game. Now let’s talk about the offense.
It seemed like just yesterday that the Patriots were so stacked at the wide receiver position but today the team has three active receivers for their week two showdown. Crazy.
The crazier thing is that even with just three active WRs this offense is still stacked. Their stable of backs can be lethal if used right and there is still Rob Gronkowski. The offensive line did a hell of a job last week and I think that will continue to be a strength this season.
Three things to watch for:
1.) James White having a huge day.
With the limited receivers for Brady I think he’ll go to his trusty Super Bowl LI hero, James White. White played solid last week but didn’t get a ton of action while splitting time with Lewis, Gillislee, and Burkhead. It could be any of these four having a big day today but I have to go with “Sweetfeet” on this one (Should be a solid fantasy starter too in a PPR league).
2.) Bet on the “over” in this one.
Tom Brady v.s. Drew Brees in the Superdome, two mediocre defenses…yeah it’s going to be a high scoring affair. I don’t see either defense stopping the opposing offense but I think the Pats will do just a little bit more (maybe a couple key turnovers) to make the difference in the game.
3.) Punt Returner?
Yup, it’s still a bit of an issue. Danny Amendola had punt duty last week but now he’s out with an injury too. The word is that Patrick Chung will return punts this week but we’ll see what Belichick decides to do. Having an unexperienced punt returner is always a concern because you don’t want to see someone fuck up a can of corn punt, giving the other team the ball back, and costing you the game (*cough cough* Cyrus Jones and Chris Harper in 2015 *cough cough*). I know Chung returned punts for Oregon in college but that was about seven or eight years ago now.