For those who don't know me, I am the head writer over at Something's Bruin which is primarily dedicated to the Boston Bruins and various hockey talk. Although my main love is hockey, I grew up watching and playing football (in both high school and college) so when Derek asked me to write a weekly article about football, I jumped all over it. The issue here is, for those that do know me know I am not a Patriots fan.
Actually, I despise the Patriots and I may be the only person in Boston who does. So my idea for this blog is something I like to call "From the eyes of the enemy" where I will write about their upcoming opponent.
Unless you've been living under a rock lately, the Patriots will head down to New Orleans to face the undefeated New Orleans Saints.
From the Eyes of the Enemy
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The New Orleans Saints come into tonight's match-up against the New England Patriots with a record of 10-0. With that being said, the Saints (especially around these Boston parts) has been largely disrespected because:
1. They play in the NFC
2. People go to the old adage "They haven't beaten anybody".
Well those two points are absolutely terrible. Let's look at the first point:which I feel is always something AFC fans say because they have teams like Indianapolis and New England to rely on.
They play in the NFC
Instead of looking at the NFC as a whole, lets look at the NFC South where the Saints play the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay stinks, so lets throw them out of the window before we move on. Before the season began, many people thought that Carolina and Atlanta would challenge New Orleans for the best team in the NFC South, but New Orleans disposed both of them pretty handedly (35-27 vs Atlanta and 30-20 vs. Carolina, both games at home).
The Saints are 3-0 in the NFC South and still have 3 more games, which they should win. The NFC also has teams like the Minnesota Vikings (10-1), Dallas Cowboys (8-3) and a couple of teams at 7-4 who could take down most AFC teams (Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles).
So lets look at point #2:
People go to the old adage "They haven't beaten anybody".
I always felt that this is the biggest piece of crap line used by fans to justify how one team will beat another. Last season, the Patriots had the easiest strength of schedule with their opponents having a win percentage of .387 and a 99-157 record, however no one ever stated "they haven't beaten anyone" week in and week out of the 2008 season.
In week 6, the Saints welcomed a 5-0 New York Giants team to the Superdome and embarrassed them to the tune of 48-27. The score is not indicative to the type of play that the Saints played against the Giants. It was a pure beat down.
Need more proof?
The Saints welcomed Atlanta in week 8 and the Falcons were 4-2 and a hot team in the NFL. The Saints pounced on Matt Ryan early and torched the Falcons defense for 21 points in the 2nd quarter.
The Saints have the best offense in the NFL and are in the top 5 in most of the important categories like yards per game (1st), passing yards per game (4th), rushing yards per game (4th) and points per game (1st). The Saints average 5 touchdowns a game!
Everyone knows about Drew Brees (2,746 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs) and his receiving corps of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Jeremy Shockey (just to name a few), but how many people outside of fantasy footballers know about Pierre Thomas?
Thomas signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent rookie in April of 2007. In 2007, Thomas wasn't able to show what he could do when given a shot, but in 2008 he shined in the Saints backfield, rushing for 625 yards and 9 touchdown on 129 carries. Thomas is an effective runner, especially downhill and has a great compliment of backs in Mike Bell and Reggie Bush (if Bush plays tonight).
The Patriots defense will have a tough time covering all of their receivers, especially speedsters like Henderson and Moore. I think Jeremy Shockey will benefit the most because he can outrun the Patriots' linebackers.
The New Orleans defense is much improved from last season, though they don't pose the threat that teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore do. The defense is 15th in total yard allowed, 16th in passing yards allowed, 20th in rushing yards allowed, 15th in sacks but are 2nd in interceptions. The bright spot for the Saints defense is Darren Sharper, who is tied for 2nd in the NFL with interceptions (7), 3 of which he has returned for touchdowns.
Much like the New England defense, the Saints defense will have trouble locking down Randy Moss and Wes Welker, especially because they are two different types of receivers. Welker is a speedy, underneath receiver while Moss can stretch (and will) stretch the field.
For the Saints to disrupt this Patriot offense, they will need to get after Tom Brady, plain and simple. The defense can not sit back in a cover scheme because the Patriot receivers will eat it alive; I've seen it week in and week out. The Saints will have to bring "heat" (blitz) Brady from various spots, linebackers, conerbacks, safetys and disguise the defense well enough that the coverage will provide "coverage sacks".
No team will be able to fully disrupt the Patriots offense (sans New York Jets in week 2), but the Saints will need to contain it.
Look for this one to be a shootout, folks. I hope you enjoyed my first "From the Eyes of the Enemy segment", I promise it will get better as I go along. Next week, look for our next FTEOTE featuring the Miami Dolphins.