The New England Patriots began the 2017 season with a shocking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, who came into Foxborough and beat the defending champions soundly. Behind Alex Smith‘s four touchdowns through the air and rookie running back Kareem Hunt‘s incredible NFL debut, the Chiefs pulled off the major upset. The Saints will be looking to follow the same formula with Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, another talented runner from this year’s rookie class, to get the victory. Unfortunately for New Orleans, however, I think this week ends with another Saints’ loss.
Though Brees always gives the Saints a chance to win, the New Orleans defense will continue to struggle. Sam Bradford absolutely carved up the defense in the season opener, going 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three scores, as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs routinely burned the secondary. Minnesota’s offensive line dominated as well, preventing the Saints from generating any consistent pass rush and paving the way for Dalvin Cook to rush for 127 yards, breaking the Vikings’ rookie rushing record for a season opener (The previous record holder? None other than current Saint Adrian Peterson).
None of this bodes well for the upcoming game. The Patriots’ offense is just as dangerous as the Vikings’, and Tom Brady knows how to take advantage of young and inexperienced players on the other side of the ball. Speedsters Brandin Cooks and Philip Dorsett are both deep threats that can beat teams over the top, and Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan are all proven receivers that can stretch the field too. New England’s running back by committee (James White, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, and Dion Lewis) will cause problems for a New Orleans run defense that still hasn’t improved.
Even the Saint’s offense faltered in Week 1, as the normally high-octane unit mustered only 19 points against Minnesota. Brees certainly seems to miss the reliable Willie Snead, who’ll still be suspended for Sunday’s game, and newcomers Ted Ginn and Adrian Peterson haven’t integrated themselves into the offense yet. Peterson in particular, is a concern- speculations about his power running style not meshing with Sean Payton‘s offensive scheme seem very valid now. One bright spot was Alvin Kamara, who showed flashes of gamebreaking ability could help Brees and the offense topple New England. However, I think Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, and Malcolm Butler lead a motivated Patriots’ defense to a better performance.
Prediction: The Patriots hold off New Orleans, 38-23.
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