New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints Free Pick 10/13/13
New Orleans Saints (5-0) at New England Patriots (4-1)
NFL Football: Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm (Gillette Stadium)
The Line: New England Patriots -3 -- Over/Under: 50 See the Latest Odds
The New Orleans Saints head to New England on Sunday to square off against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The New England Patriots haven’t been as impressive this season as in years past, but wins are wins in the NFL, and currently the Pats are a solid 4-1. New England did fall this past weekend, getting upended by the Bengals in Cincy, 13-6. The Patriots had an off day for sure, but you have to give some credit to the Bengals, who have one of the best defensive units in the entire league right now. Brady threw for just 197 yards and a pick on Sunday…definitely not Brady like numbers. Brady has had trouble finding chemistry with his new receivers this season, but it appears that Gronk will be back on Sunday in time for their meeting with the Saints. Gronkowski brings a new dimension to this offense, even if the ball isn’t being thrown his way. The attention Gronkowski will receive from the Saints defensively, will detract some of the attention from the other wideouts for the Pats, and should free them up against a New Orleans secondary that is giving up nearly seven yards per attempt this season. Another area I like the Patriots to exploit on Sunday against the Saints on Sunday is the ground game. New Orleans is giving up 5.4 yards per carry this season, ranking them 32nd in the league against the run in yards per attempt. The Pats don’t run the ball often (just over 40 percent of the time) but when they do, they are successful, picking up 4.1 yards per carry. I think the addition of Gronk, and the fact that the ground game should be successful, should mean a much better performance from Brady on Sunday.
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The New Orleans Saints are still undefeated on the year, and we are seeing just how big Sean Payton is to this team, compared to how the Saints performed last season. New Orleans latest win came against the Bears in Chicago this past Sunday. New Orleans defeated the Bears 26-18, on the heels of a stellar day from Brees, who completed 29/35 for 288 yards and two scores. Coming on as of late for the Saints in Pierre Thomas, who had just 36 yards on the ground against the Bears, but hauled in nine passes from Brees on the day for 55 yards and two scores. Of course the Saints have Jimmy Graham at tight end, who is one of the biggest mismatch problems in the entire league. The Saints have the ninth ranked scoring offense this season, averaging 26.8 points per game, and a big reason for that is their ability to sustain drives. The Saints are converting on nearly 44 percent of their third down attempts this season. If the Pats are unable to get the Saints off the field, and allow New Orleans to sustain a few long, scoring drives, things could get dicey for the Pats in New England on Sunday.
The total has gone under in four of the last five games for the Saints. The Saints are also 4-2 overall in their last six road games. The Patriots are just 2-4 against the spread in their last six games, and New England is just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games against the Saints.
I’m going to lay the points with the Patriots here. New England is far better than they showed us last weekend. The Patriots should have Gronk back, and for the reasons I stated above, this will be a huge boost to their offense. The Saints defense is better than they were a year ago with Rob Ryan now calling the shots, but they are far from lights out. The Pats actually are playing the pass well, averaging just 6.2 yards allowed per completion and an opposing completion percentage of just 57 percent. The Saints are likely going to have to throw to win, and that will be a challenge on Sunday. Far from a blowout, but I like the Patriots to win at home on Sunday by about a touchdown.