New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints: Game Two Preview and Prediction
By Hal Bent
WHY THE PATRIOTS WILL WIN:
- The defense can’t really be that bad, can it?
- The offense can’t really be that bad, can it?
- A full sixty minutes of effort.
Look, the Patriots went into the season with a roster loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. This roster still has a lot of talent both on offense and defense.
The New England defense was ripped apart by the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night allowing 185 yards on the ground and 352 yards passing (all stats from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted).
The defense was hurt by big plays and long drives. Credit the Chiefs offensive game plan as they isolated linebacker Cassius Marsh in one-on-one coverage of Kareem Hunt for a 78-yard touchdown. The touchdown by Tyreek Hill was a clear miscommunication as cornerback Stephon Gilmore clearly was passing Hill to safety Devin McCourty.
Cleaning up stupid mistakes making a few key third-down stops and winning one-on-one battles would have gone a long way to keeping the team in position to win. The run defense is not as big a concern as New England was in a dime defense for much of the game. like many game plans in the past New England seemed to be conceding the run. However, unlike in those previous games they did not come up with the stops in the passing game.
The New England offense put up 27 points on a very good Kansas City defense. The Kansas City defense was last seen holding the Pittsburgh Steelers out of the end zone into six field goals in the AFC divisional Playoff round last year.
Kansas City was able to slow the offense by for the most part rushing three defenders, dropping eight Defenders into coverage and clogging the middle of the field.They were able to win one-on-one matchups with safety Eric Berry on tight end Rob Gronkowski holding him to two receptions on six targets for just 33 yards.
On the outside, the Chiefs deployed cornerback Marcus Peters on New England wide receiver Chris Hogan. Hogan was targeted five times and had just one reception for eight yards.The Chiefs rolled coverage to help out on Brandin Cooks who is held to just three receptions for 88 yards.
New England was in position to hold off the Chiefs going into the fourth quarter. A 17 to 14 halftime lead expanded to a 27 to 21 lead going into the final quarter. Historically with Bill Belichick teams, the game ends as a New England Victory
Instead the Chiefs made big plays to close out the game all New England barely touch the ball in the fourth quarter. The New England offense was forced to take what the Kansas City defense gave them. With the middle of the field flooded with defenders, too often Brady had forced the ball into coverage on the outside.
The game plan for victory is very simple: New England needs to go back to what works. Put Brandin Cooks in the slot. use the two tight end offense in the corporate the play-action by establishing the running game early. Get the running backs involved in the passing game early and often and don’t be afraid to use running back and wide receiver screens to slow the outside pass rush.
If New England could allow the offense to dictate the tempo and re-establish their horizontal passing game against Orleans on Sunday, there should be significant improvement.