by Hal Bent | Posted on Saturday, October 12th, 2013
After four fortuitous victories by the skin of their teeth, the New England Patriots finally failed against the strong defense of the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. This week, the Patriots face an unfamiliar foe who brings an unbeaten record, a potent offense, and a much improved defense to Foxboro, MA. With quarterback Drew Brees heading up the New Orleans Saints offense and former Patriots defensive assistant and brother-of-Rex Rob Ryan heading up the defense, the Saints are in position to present a tough matchup on Sunday afternoon.
The New Orleans Saints offense should look familiar to the New England Patriots: hall of fame quarterback, double tight-end set, primary receiver in the slot, weak outside wide receivers, receiving running back. The only ingrediant missing is the 1,000 yard back, or this could be the 2012 Patriots offense. In the Saints offense, Drew Brees looks remarkably similar to Tom Brady, finding whoever is open and feeding his monstrous tight end, Jimmy Graham (playing the role of Rob Gronkowski). Former New England first round draft pick Ben Watson fills in as the second tight end (think Michael Hoomanawanui…there are no tight ends with Aaron Hernandez’s quickness and athleticism), and wide receiver Marques Colston, although built more like Anquan Boldin than Wes Welker, is a powerful slot receiver.
At running back, the Saints multi-faceted attack is down to Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Sproles was a third-down back, but with the disappointing first round draft pick Mark Ingram playing 32 snaps in five games due to injury and ineffectiveness, the running back position has become another pass receiver in the Saints offense. The Saints run out youngsters and veterans at wide receiver, but none have been effective this year other than Colston. Youngsters Kenny Stills and Nick Toon have made a few plays, but are not keeping defensive coordinators up at night. Both Lance Moore and Robert Meachem are veterans who are comfortable in the offense, but neither has been a threat so far this season.
The Patriots defense is likely to be without both starting defensive tackles with Vince Wilfork out for the season and veteran Tommy Kelly injured last week. Against a team with a threat of a running game, New England would be in trouble. Rookie defensive tackles Joe Vellano and Chris Jones were both the weakest links on the Patriots defense, as they were both received negative grades by ProFootballFocus.com (Jones -2.4 and Vellano -5.6) mostly for their lack of production stopping the Cincinnati rushing attack.
Expect the Patriots to show different looks at defensive tackle throughout the game. While the Patriots depth at the position is thin (rookies Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, and street free agent Andre Neblett), expect the Patriots to attempt to get pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees with combinations of defensive ends (Jake Bequette, Chandler Jones, and Michael Buchanan) and linebackers (Brandon Spikes and Jamie Collins) especially on passing downs to get pressure on Brees...Click here for more: http://www.h4-entertainment.com/2013/10/new-england-patriots-face-tough-home-test-versus-new-orleans/