Good morning Saints fans. Ready for the big game tonight? It's a little ways away, so to help get you through your day I've saved everyone's favorite weekly post, Chat with the Enemy, for last. As usual, I posed a few questions to the appropriate SB Nation blogger, this week being New England's writer, MaPatsFan, from Pats Pulpit.
But wait...there's more! Because this is such a big game for the Saints and because today will inevitably crawl by at a snails pace in anticipation for MNF, I've got a second, similar post I'm calling Chat with Another Enemy lined up this afternoon to help pass the time. That one will include answers to completely different questions from Patriots Daily blogger Bruce Allen. That's right, it's a double dose of enemy insight! I might also throw some other things in there just to keep you psyched throughout the day, so check back often.
And, of course, we will see you here tonight for the open game thread which will open an hour before kickoff at 6:30pm Central. There will be a second half open thread scheduled to post at 9:15pm Central. I'll be at the game so I can't start it exactly at halftime. Hopefully 9:15pm will coincide with halftime.
On to the questions and answers.
CSC: A lot of people in Who Dat Nation are calling this one of the biggest games in Saints history. What is the sentiment regarding the Saints and this game from Patriot fans? Is it as big of a statement?
PP: From a pure logical, Spock type standpoint, this is an out-of-conference and out-of-division game which helps little when looking at tie breakers, seeding, and wild-cards within a conference. On the other hand, Win/Loss trumps all of that and a W keeps the wolves at bay, i.e.: Miami.
From an emotional standpoint, this is huge to us Patriots fans. The Saints are on track to blow up a number of the records set by the Patriots in their 2007 season and it would be good to at least say we pulled a W out of it. I don't think we consider it the biggest game in Patriots history, though; that would boil down to our Super Bowls, particularly Super Bowl XLII against the Giants, or our AFCCG match-ups against the Colts.
CSC: What matchup are you most worried about coming into this game?
PP: Statistically speaking, the Saints defense isn't burning up the charts; however, they appear to be solid in just about every area which worries me more than leading the league in one defensive area. It reminds me of the Patriots defenses from 2001-2005 - no superstars, but a lot of team work and solid play, very few holes. There are TWO areas, though, where New Orleans burns up the field: they are the league leader in both interceptions and interceptions returned for a TD. So, to answer your question a bit more directly, I worry about Tom Brady trying to force the ball to Randy Moss, which happens a few times per game, and "Tom Terrific" getting picked. I wouldn't be surprised to see Darren Sharper, with 7 picks this season, getting Moss duty.
CSC: If you were writing a book on how to beat the Patriots, what would be the most important chapters?
PP: Take away Wes Welker would be the first, and most important, chapter. Not only is he a first or second look for Brady, but he's the safety valve. When the heat is on during a blitz or pass rush, Tom invariably goes to Welker. The second chapter would be to take away Randy Moss. Welker and Moss are the two biggest offensive threats we have, but Welker is the chain mover and capable of chunking the Patriots down the field. Next, contain the run game. We don't have a workhorse back that can burn up the field, but the backfield-by-committee has been effective at balancing out our offense.
CSC: Do you think Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Drew Brees, Super Bowl rings aside? Please explain your answer.
PP: Yes, but not for the reasons one may think. We could get into a long, protracted back-and-forth about their statistics, but the simple reason I think he's better is Brady's "been there". He's played in a lot of big games. For me, it's hard to discount that experience when comparing the two. That could be considered a fine distinction and possibly a bit homeristic, but I have to retain SOME Patriots pride, right? ;-) At any rate, when we talk about the top quarterbacks in the league, it's no longer the duo of Brady and Manning; it's the trio of Brees, Brady, and Manning.
CSC: Tell us something interesting, surprising or unusual about the Patriots that most fans wouldn't know.
PP: A guy by the name of Ernie Adams is considered the "Belichick behind Belichick" and many think the voice in Hoodie's headset. Ernie is a longtime friend, dating back to Bill's prep school days at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Adams is a football geek, knee deep in statistics and holds the dubious title of "Director of Football Research" for the Patriots. Few of the players really know what he does, but Bill does and the two are almost inseparable.
CSC: Care to make a prediction?
PP: Sure. High scoring and very close. I think the Pats pull this one out, 34-28.