NFL 2017 Week 2: New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints preview and prediction

Two star quarterbacks are hungry for a comeback after both suffered opening-week losses, in what should be a shootout in New Orleans.

Week 1 recap

Most people expected the heavily favored Pats to begin defense of their championship in style. But after a quick start, the team imploded, getting outscored 35-10 after jumping to a 17-7 lead en route to a 42-27 loss. The defense suffered a couple of key injuries during the game and suffered big play after big play, yielding 537 yards in the process. Meanwhile, Tom Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes and failed to throw a touchdown. The only bright spot for New England was that they appeared to find a goal-line back, as new acquisition Mike Gillislee ran for all three touchdowns the team scored.

The Saints came out flat in their debut on Monday night, allowing the Vikings to move up and down the field in a 29-19 victory. The defense yielded 470 yards to the Sam Bradford-led Vikings offense and couldn’t get off the field as Minnesota converted 9 out of 14 third downs. Drew Brees was able to move the ball as well, but couldn’t get touchdowns out of it until a late touchdown pass when the outcome was already decided. Adrian Peterson’s New Orleans debut was underwhelming, as he barely saw the field after the opening drive while rushing for 18 yards.

Hurting defense

The Patriots defense is still smarting, literally and figuratively, after the hurt the Chiefs put upon them. LB Dont’a Hightower’s status is up in the air after he sprained his MCL, but the truth is New England was really struggling to limit the Chiefs big plays even before he went out in the third quarter. This is a defense that has been torched in its last two contests going back to the Super Bowl, and Drew Brees is licking his chops to make it three in a row.

Line play questions

The Saints entered Monday night’s game already with a rookie starting at one tackle position with Terron Armstead on the PUP list. Now right tackle Zach Strief is out with an injury suffered in the opener. Even though the Vikings managed just one sack, the truth is that they were all over Brees and prevented him from doing anything down the field. The Pats’ pass rush could get well in a hurry in this contest.

New faces, same result

New Orleans felt that their new-look with defense, with eight new starters, was ready for prime time after a solid preseason, but they were exposed every which way by the Vikings. Their secondary constantly lost the Vikings’ wideouts, and rookie running back Dalvin Cook wore them down in the second half. Now it’s time to face Tom Brady, who is not a happy camper after a Week 1 loss. This might get ugly fast.

Patriots QB Tom Brady vs. Saints QB Drew Brees

Of course, they won’t be on the field together, but two of the game’s preeminent quarterbacks against defenses who seem absolutely lost in a dome should make for some fireworks. What’s more is that both are smarting, having combined for just a single touchdown pass between them in Week 1. It could be the last one with the ball wins in this contest with these two hurling.

Fantasy football tip – Saints RB Alvin Kamara

There won’t be any shortage of fantasy players getting theirs in this game. Kamara might be the sneakiest play out of those. The rookie Saints runner received more snaps than veterans Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in Week 1, and the Patriots struggled with Kareem Hunt catching passes out of the backfield, which bodes well for Kamara in similar passing game situations here.

Prediction: New England Patriots 51-31 New Orleans Saints

The Patriots at 0-2? It would be conceivable were they not playing a team that looked as lost at sea defensively as the Saints do. This one should be a statistical smorgasbord.

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