September 26, 2016

Worry Wart – Game Eleven at Saints

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Two weeks ago, your New England football club traveled to a dome to play an undefeated team. That result at Indianapolis – a one-point loss as pleasant as road rash – makes Monday’s tilt at New Orleans look all the more intimidating.

Now hold on one minute, you say. The Saints have yet to play any teams of substance, you say. Well, I say they’re 10-0, and I point out that New England hasn’t exactly racked up the wins against elite teams, either.

Who dat?” indeed.

Some other less-than-fun thoughts as we wait for Monday:

A Worthless Two Quarters: The Patriots always try to get out to a fast start. While they’ve had success in doing so, their second-half offense has been pretty sad. A second-quarter laugher vs. the Jets got tense in the third. Ten points in the second half against the Colts didn’t cut it. Whatever the reason (running game, play-calling predictability), Monday’s visitors had better put some point on the board or they’ll survive about as well as your turkey did this past Thursday.

The Sky’s The Limited: The Pats named enough players as limited participants on Thursday to field an entire team. Ty Warren and Tully Banta-Cain are two players who come to mind who could give New England the best chance.

Personally, I’d have to sit out with “tryptophan-induced coma.”

More With Wes: Apparently, this “Wes Welker” character can catch the football. His receiving partner Randy Moss isn’t the worst, either. What will bring the Patriots to the next level (and help them beat undefeated dome teams) will be the emergence of a true third receiver. Is rookie Julian Edelman up to the task? Will Tom Brady start looking for Benjamin Watson more often? With heavy coverage on the big two, look for someone else to emerge (or at least get the chance to).

Full Frontal: What’s up with the offensive line? Will New England field a full set of five on Monday? Kudos to Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir for stepping up, but we’d like to see Sebastian Vollmer continue to hold down the left tackle spot. If Matt Light comes back this week, Vollmer might take the right side, which would look awesome.

Wait a minute. That’s not a worry. Here…

Play It Again, Sammy: How will the (potential) return of Sammy Morris affect the running game? Will Laurence Maroney see it as a challenge and meet it, or take it as an insult and shrink back? New England needs to run the ball, if only to lengthen their time of possession and keep the ball away from a Saints offense so explosive it scares off M-80s.

Monday night. Tons of hype. Yet another “Game of the Year.”

I’ll try to remain calm.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

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