The New England Patriots are coming off of a huge win last week against the New York Jets. It was classic Belichick. Disrupting rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and interception him four times. While featuring an offense that didn’t turn the ball over once, playing the safe game to pick up the 25-6 win. This week offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been under fire for being “too conservative” with his play calls. Not letting rookie quarterback Mac Jones air it out enough. That maybe this proved a lack of confidence in his throwing ability. Though all of these have been shut down by both McDaniels and Jones, maybe they look for something more aggressive this week against the Saints.

Defensively, this game could prove to be a nightmare for Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick. The two-quarterback system is something that could frustrate the hell out of this Patriots defense. The days of Drew Brees stat-padding in garbage time is now over, with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill heading a newly imposed dual quarterback system that has given teams nightmares in recent years. It was limited by Brees’s inability to throw a deep ball, but now with Winston, this unit could soar to new heights.

Both of these teams have gone under monumental remodeling in recent years. Especially when discussing the franchise quarterbacks moving on. One thing has remained the same though. Their brilliant coaches have stuck around through it all. Bill Belichick and Sean Payton have a football mind matched by few, and it’s always a fun time when they meet. So without further delay, let’s get this one underway. Set it up, Bailey!

Three Keys to The Game

Mac Jones' 'confidence is on a 10:' Patriots veterans are impressed by  rookie's conviction - masslive.com

Key #1: Don’t Be Suprised By Winston-Hill Interchanging

I am absolutely certain that the Patriots will see both of these quarterbacks plenty in this matchup. Simply because the Pats haven’t seen it before. The last time they played New Orleans was in 2017 and Drew Brees hadn’t totally fallen off the cliff yet. Now it’s a brand new offense to them, and it’ll be interesting to see just how prepared this defense will be, and which Jameis we will see on Sunday. Will it be the Jameis Winston who throws five touchdowns casually? Or the 30 for 30 turnover machine Jameis Winston?

Key #2: Getting Creative Offensively

Although I feel the criticisms of the McDaniels offense can be unjust, they’re not totally wrong. Even if indirectly, Jones hasn’t had a huge opportunity to showcase what talent he might have. He’s been a really good game manager for this offense two weeks in. But there haven’t been too many aggressive shots downfield called for McCorkle two weeks in. I think the Patriots could afford to get a little more creative under center and maybe create some more risky throws for the rookie. They didn’t invest in guys like Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry for no reason, right? Let’s see what the kid has. Not at the cost of a win, but don’t get predictable offensively.

Key #3: Protect Mac Jones

It’s been no secret that the Patriots are struggling without Trent Brown on the offensive line. Too many times the Pats’ offense has been shut down on drives off of sacks or immediate pressure. They can’t afford to let McCorkle get blown up as often as he has in recent weeks. He’s not exactly Kyler Murray running around back there. Brown did return to practice this week, and he should be good to go come Sunday, but nevertheless, this offense cannot afford to have the same lackadaisical pass protection that they’ve showcased through two weeks.

X-Factor: Josh Uche

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Edge rusher Josh Uche is going to play a major role in keeping the trio of Winston, Hill, and Alvin Kamara in check. He’s probably the only edge rusher that has the wheels to keep up with Hill and Kamara’s speed. Setting the edge will be a huge part of this game, so Uche and Dont’a Hightower will have their hands full come Sunday afternoon. PFF holds Uche with some of the best edge rushers in the NFL with pressure scores, let’s see those in full effect against New Orleans.

Closing Thoughts

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I for one was delighted to hear that the Patriots would be honoring future hall of fame (yeah, I said it) receiver Julian Edelman at halftime this Sunday. An all-time playoff performer, a third-down specialist, tough as nails. Edelman personifies Patriots football to a tee. When the Pats needed a big-time catch, there’s a reason Tom Brady always looked his way. A legend by all accounts in Boston sports, and hopefully soon, an NFL legend as well.

As for the game at hand, the Patriots can’t let this get into a shoot-out. The offense just hasn’t proven itself capable of winning a 37-35 game. If the Saints get the best of the defense early, this could be a really long day. Especially ahead of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski‘s homecoming next week on Sunday Night Football.

I have faith though that Belichick will be prepared for the things that Payton has in store. It’s not often that the hoodie is caught by surprise. Give me New England in a huge warm-up game ahead of possibly the biggest regular-season game in NFL history.

Final Score: 24-20, New England (2-1)

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