The New Orleans Saints are now only 3 more days away from their 2017 home opener inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and will be seeking a much-needed win after dropping their season opening game to the Vikings on the road at Minnesota.
The Patriots will also be seeking to win their first game of the new season, after dropping their game last Thursday Night to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 42-27.
It sets up for an interesting early season showdown between 2 of the League's most iconic head coach / QB duo's in history -- Sean Payton / Drew Brees of the Saints vs. Bill Belicheck / Tom Brady of the Patriots, with both duos desperately seeking to even their season records at (1-1).
It's with that in mind this morning, that the Saints News Network presents 5 "bold" predictions for this Sunday's opening home contest (and vitally important game to the Saints' season-long hopes) against New England.
And we'll start first at #5, and work our way down to #1......
#5. DREW BREES AND THE SAINTS OFFENSE "BOUNCE BACK" AFTER GETTING STYMIED BY MINNESOTA
Just days removed from their disappointing Monday Night performance in Minneapolis where New Orleans scored only 19 points despite EIGHT (8) total trips into the red zone (inside the opponent's 20-yard line), Drew Brees and the Saints offense "bounce back" in this game against the Patriots at home.
Brees passes for over 300 yards and 3 TD's, and guides the Saints offense to two other scores on the ground (including one from rookie RB Alvin Kamara) along with a chip-shot field goal, as New Orleans rebounds offensively after being regulated to 4 field goals and a late meaningless 4th quarter TD by the stout Vikings defense this past Monday Night.
Saints WR Michael Thomas also has a big game with 7 receptions for 144 yards and a TD of his own, and tight end Coby Fleener catches a TD pass for a 2nd straight week. All in all, it ends up being a great performance by the Saints offense that's intent on correcting the difficulties it faced the previous week at Minnesota.
#4. "TOM TERRIFIC" THROWS FOR 4 TD's AGAINST THE SAINTS PASS DEFENSE -- INCLUDING 2 OF THEM TO FORMER SAINTS WR / 2014 #1 DRAFT PICK BRANDIN COOKS
"Tom Terrific" is the nickname I've personally used to describe long-time Patriots QB / living legend / cultural icon Tom Brady for some time now (because the media annoyingly portrays him as the penultimate American "hero" with his handful of Super Bowl rings and supermodel wife), and he and the Patriots offense invade the Superdome ready to face a beleaguered Saints pass defense that's just days removed from getting "sliced and diced" by (of all people) Vikings QB Sam Bradford.
Despite the best efforts of the Saints defense led by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, the Saints CB's again have trouble with pass coverage although this time it's against the short-handed Patriots WR corps, now being led by former Saints WR Brandin Cooks -- whom the Saints traded to the Patriots before this year's 2017 Draft in exchange for the #31 overall pick (which the Saints used on rookie left tackle Ryan Ramczyk).
Cooks, who has had his ups and downs thus far since his arrival in Beantown, will shine against the team that drafted him with their top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft; as he puts up 163 receiving yards with 2 TD's (including a 78-yard catch and run in full stride) to help the Patriots match the Saints "score for score".
#3. ADRIAN PETERSON AND SEAN PAYTON RENEW ACQUAINTANCES ON THE SIDELINE ONCE AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME ON MUCH BETTER TERMS
In case you don't know the story, here's the real quick version of it: Adrian Peterson and Sean Payton had a verbal exchange on the sidelines during the 2nd quarter of the Minnesota game the other night, that appeared to be of an intense nature.
But as far as we know, they might have been talking about anything (only the 2 of them know what was really said, and whether if it had any significance in that moment or not). Neither man say it's an issue and have both 'moved on' as far as the public knows, but you know that sometimes things get taken out of context and an issue becomes something "bigger" than it actually should have been.
Which is why it wouldn't come as a shock at all if Payton and Peterson are seen together with all smiles this Sunday when the TV cameras are showing them, to present the image to the home Superdome crowd and to the general public of team unity; to dispel any notion that there is a rift of any sort between the two notoriously strong-willed men.
Is there really any friction between the head coach and the long-time veteran star RB? I seriously doubt it.
Just two VERY passionate and competitive guys who were pissed off about losing a game that they were expecting to win, and neither man who was in the mood for taking suggestions at that particular moment in time.
#2. AS EXPECTED, THE GAME TURNS INTO A "SHOOT OUT" AS A SOLD-OUT SUPERDOME HOME CROWD WATCHES ON
A lot of observers and analysts for months now since the NFL schedule was released back in May; have been predicting that this game would likely turn into a "shoot out" between two of the sport of Pro Football's very best QB's and both future 1st-ballot Hall of Famers: Drew Brees of the Saints and Tom Brady of the Patriots.
And they would be right, too.
As mentioned, Brees will throw for 3 TD's and lead the Saints to two more rushing scores along with a field goal, to give the Saints 38 points; while Brady will have 4 TD passes -- 2 to Brandin Cooks -- and both a rushing TD drive and a field goal to his credit as well to also give New England 38 points, as the game winds down to the final 2 minutes.
Brady and the Patriots drive the ball down to the Saints 40-yard line; but on a 2nd down and short, Brady tries to hit Cooks streaking down the middle towards the goal line with a potential "walk off" TD pass, but is intercepted on a tremendous effort of athleticism by high-leaping rookie free safety Marcus Williams.
The Saints get the ball back with less than 30 seconds, and Brees quickly gets them down to the Patriots 42 but with only time for one last play. The Saints then send out kicker Wil Lutz for a 59-yard field goal attempt to win it, but even though he has the distance, he misses juuuuuuust wide to the right --- and the sold-out Superdome crowd momentarily sits in a stunned state of silence since they know that with the score still tied at 38-38, the teams are now headed for overtime.
#1. WE'RE NOW IN OVERTIME, WHEN SUDDENLY.......
When suddenly both teams begin pulling out "all of the stops" to win.
A Saints interception on a tipped pass by Cam Jordan that floats into the waiting and willing hands of rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone sets the Saints up in great field position with a chance to win it early in overtime; but on a 2nd down and short near midfield, Brees attempts to hit a streaking WR Ted Ginn, Jr. with a deep ball down the right sideline, but he's picked off by Patriots CB Malcom Butler.
Brady now has his shot to win it, and he gets the ball down to the Saints 38 almost immediately with a big play down the middle and right through the heart of the Saints defense, to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
But two running plays lose a net of a yard, and on 3rd and 11, Brady misfires on a slant pass intended for Cooks; and the Patriots have a decision to make: kick a 56-yard field goal to win it, go for it on 4th and 11 at the Saints 39-yard line, or punt. Belicheck wisely chooses the field goal attempt for the win, but Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski misses from 56 yards out, just slightly off to the left.
Which of course then means that Brees and the Saints offense have yet another opportunity to possess the ball, and this time with a chance to put the game away as the stadium clock in overtime slowly ticks down to under 5 minutes remaining.
On a 3rd Down and short, Brees throws a screen pass to Kamara, who after putting a move on Patriots safety Duron Harmon, breaks away from the pile of bodies laying on the turf nearby and bursts his way into the clear open field; before sprinting the rest of the way in to the end zone for a 55-yard TD reception -- as a rollicking home crowd at the Superdome literally jumping up and down in their seats, happily celebrate after Kamara crosses the goal line for the winning points.....