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Week 15 Preview: Saints run offense will need to thrive against Chiefs run defense to have a chance

The only way to beat Patrick Mahomes is to keep him off the field

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the Kansas City Chiefs are an absolutely horrific matchup against the New Orleans Saints. One of the few places on the roster where the Saints may stack up favorably is up front, where the Saints offensive line has been generally good this year.

The Saints rushing offense is in a weird state of flux with Taysom Hill at the helm, in that Hill is running the ball far more often that a quarterback normally would. That could cause some problems for the Chiefs run defense if Drew Brees doesn’t return this week, but time will tell.

The running game has never been more important this season for the Saints than it will be this week. Patrick Mahomes has been carving up defenses all season, and if the Saints have a 38-20 pass-run balance this week, that means something went terribly wrong.

The Chiefs are the 26th-ranked run defense in the NFL, so the Saints can exploit them. Andrus Peat looks like he’ll be a go this week after battling a foot injury, but depth will be lacking as Nick Easton looks like he’ll miss next week with a concussion.

The Chiefs don’t exactly have a difference-maker in their front seven outside of Chris Jones. Safety Daniel Sorensen is leading the team in tackles with 80, while Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are just trailing him at 75 and 68, respectively.

Alvin Kamara leads the team at 723 yards, but this might be the kind of game where, if Hill plays, Hill runs the ball 15 times and throws it 10. If Brees plays, expect a big game from Kamara as they continue to try to get him rolling, with a healthy amount of Latavius Murray mixed in for pacing’s sake.

Up front, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk have been solid as ever, while the interior has had problem. Peat and Cesar Ruiz still appear to be figuring things out, which could be troublesome with Jones anchoring the front. He’s easily the best player up front for the Chiefs, so the Saints could get creative to stop him.

Regardless of Brees’ status, the Saints have the edge on the ground, and they should ride it out. At 137.3 yards per game, the Saints are seventh in the league. They may need to be up around the 150-180 mark in order to keep Mahomes off the field long enough to win.

As unfavorable as this matchup is overall, Sean Payton is perfectly capable of game-planning against a team like the Chiefs. It would be foolish to write the Saints off in this game, especially if Kamara and Murray fill in their roles. If Brees plays, the opens things up for Kamara in the passing game, and if Hill plays, expect a bruising showing from the Saints as they try to keep pace with the Packers after losing the lead in the NFC last week.


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