The New Orleans Saints are looking to bounce back from a season-opening lost last week, but that task won’t be easy against Sunday’s opponent.
The New England Patriots, last season’s Super Bowl champions, will visit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the game starting at noon Sunday, and after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, the Patriots will be trying to overcome their early-season hole, too.
Here are three key matchups that could determine which team improves to 1-1:
Saints run game vs. Patriots run defense
When the Saints were reviewing video of the Patriots’ Week 1 performance, coaches surely got excited about the possibility of having a productive rushing attach this week. Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt ran for 148 yards on just 17 carries against New England last week, and when the Patriots take the field on Sunday, they won’t have middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Hunt is a different style of running back from the guys in the Saints’ top trio of runners — Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara. Still, Hunt’s ability to expose holes in New England’s defense is something that should help the Saints, and even though the Patriots probably made fixing the run defense a top priority this week, it might be hard to improve with Hightower out.
Plus, the Saints struggled running the ball last week against the Vikings with just 60 yards on 21 carries, so coach Sean Payton probably wants to see that group bounce back and provide some balance to the offense.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro vs. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski
This matchup is yet another area where the Saints probably looked at…
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