Patriots’ Defense Can Prove Itself Vs. Saints, But Offense Can’t

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It’s hard to feel too bad for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The guy’s got five Super Bowl rings, a supermodel wife, and his nickname basically is “The GOAT,” and that’s not just because all he eats is greens.

But Brady is entering a no-win situation Sunday when his Patriots take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. He’s been set up to be compared to Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, of all people.

See, Brady and his offense sputtered in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady completed just 44 percent of his passes with Julian Edelman out for the season, and now he’s preparing for just his third game since 2007 without any of his slot receiver safety blankets, Edelman, Danny Amendola and Wes Welker. Amendola was ruled out Friday with a concussion and knee injury. The Patriots lost both games in which Brady played without those three receivers in 2015 against the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.

So, now everyone is expecting Brady to get back on track against the lowly Saints defense that just allowed Bradford to complete 84 percent of his passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions (seriously, look it up! It happened). If Brady excels, everyone can just point at Bradford’s performance and use it as proof that the Patriots’ offense still might not be on track. And if Brady can’t live up to the insanely high standard Bradford set in Week 1, then there will be further doubts about the Patriots’ offense.

Brady and the Patriots’ offense really can’t convince anyone they’re back to normal until Week 3, when they take on the Houston Texans, who have a legitimate defense, not whatever the Saints are putting on the Superdome field this weekend.

The Patriots’ defense, however, can right the ship Sunday. The Saints only scored 19 points against the Minnesota Vikings, but they have a real offense led by quarterback Drew Brees, wide receiver Michael Thomas and running backs Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and Adrian Peterson.

It will be a bad sign if the Patriots’ defense lets up a ton of points and yards as they did in Week 1. But if they can limit the Saints’ potentially high-powered offense, then that might assuage the concerns some Patriots fans have after they watched their team get annihilated by the Chiefs.

The Patriots will have to limit the Saints’ ground attack and prevent big plays without linebacker Dont’a Hightower on defense, too. Hightower already has been ruled out with a knee injury suffered in Week 1. In his place likely will be undrafted rookie linebacker Harvey Langi.

Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Saints probably will be a shootout. And regardless of whether New England wins or loses, Patriots fans probably will feel just as uneasy about the 2017 season Monday morning as they have since their Week 1 loss.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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