The New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots face off on Sunday afternoon in the team’s first home game of the 2017 season. Both teams come into this game with a record of 0-1, anxious to reverse the doubts caused by lopsided losses in Week 1.
These teams don’t play each other often, because the Patriots play in the AFC and the Saints of course are in the NFC. This will be the 14th meeting between the two franchises, with New England holding a 9-4 advantage in the series. The first time they played was during the 1972 season, a home game for New Orleans played in Tulane Stadium, resulting in a 17-10 Patriots victory. The game featured a matchup between Saints quarterback Archie Manning, who finished 3rd in the 1970 Heisman Trophy voting while at Mississippi, and would be the 2nd overall pick in the 1971 draft. The Patriots countered with Jim Plunkett, the former Stanford great who won the Heisman Trophy in 1970, and would be the 1st pick in the 1971 draft.
The first time that the teams would meet in the New Orleans Superdome would be the season finale of the 1980 season, a game won by the Patriots, 38-27, ending an infamous 1-15 season by the struggling Saints.
The Saints would lose the first five games in this series against the Pats, not coming away with a victory until a 28-24 win at New England during the 1989 season. That would be the first of 3 straight victories for the Saints over the Patriots through the early and mid-1990s, all on the road. Amazingly, New Orleans would not defeat New England in the friendly confines of their home stadium until the 2009 season, and are just 1-4 all-time in games played in New Orleans. The last meeting between these two occurred in 2013, a thrilling last second 30-27 Patriots victory in Foxboro.
The Saints are just 1-3 against the Patriots since Tom Brady became the quarterback, but the 38-17 victory by Sean Payton and Drew Brees in 2009 was one of the most convincing wins of their Super Bowl championship season. The game was played on a Monday night, and the Saints win against a perennial championship contender put them in the conversation of dominant teams, propelling them to the best season in their team history. Brees is 3-1 against New England as a starting quarterback (1-1 as a Saint, and 2 victories when he was with the San Diego Chargers). The Saints are 1-4 against Belichick-coached teams; 1-3 since he has been with the Patriots, and losing once to him as coach of the Cleveland Browns during the 1993 season.
Sean Payton and Bill Belichick are quite possibly the two best coaches to have "graduated" from the Bill Parcells coaching tree. Belichick was on Parcells' defensive staff with the Giants through the late 1980s, then reunited with Parcells' New England and New York Jets staffs of the late 1990s. Payton, meanwhile, was on Parcells' offensive staff with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003-05. Each man has become the best coach in their respective franchise's histories, and among the longest tenured coaches in the NFL.
Drew Brees and Tom Brady have had a parallel history as well. They faced each other in one of the most prestigious collegiate conferences in the NCAA, when Brady was the quarterback for Michigan, and Brees wound up as a Heisman Trophy finalist while at Purdue.
Pride and mutual respect are not the most important things on the line when the Saints and Patriots line up to face each other for the 14th time. Both teams come into this game with 0-1 records, after getting handled easily in their season openers. History shows that since 2007, only 10% of teams that have started the season 0-2 have gone on to qualify for the playoffs.
The prediction here is that Payton, Brees and the Saints will come out with an extremely aggressive offensive game plan to challenge an undermanned Patriot defense, and that the young New Orleans defense will rebound slightly, showing an aggressive approach that served them well over the preseason.
Saints 31, Patriots 27
Who will be victorious in Saints vs. Patriots?
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