Week 15’s standoff between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs has put Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes on everyone’s notice, but there are plenty of head-to-head matchups worth watching as the two Super Bowl contending teams mix it up. The Saints defense will have their hands full against the high-flying Kansas City offense, while New Orleans’ offense must find mismatches of their own against the Chiefs defenders.
Here’s where we’ll be looking for big plays on Sunday:
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill vs. Saints DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Hill leads all Chiefs receivers in snaps played out of the slot the last four weeks (55.7% of his total), putting him on a collision course with Gardner-Johnson, who has covered more routes from the slot (97) than every other Saints defender combined (76) in that time. It’s possible the Saints try shadowing Hill with one of their top corners, but that would be a big break from their tendencies on the year so far: neither Marshon Lattimore (23 cover snaps in the slot) nor Janoris Jenkins (24) have taken Gardner-Johnson’s spot inside.
Jones has rushed slightly more often from the left side (72 snaps since Week 11) than the right (51), so that puts him up against Peat more frequently than right guard Cesar Ruiz. Which is bad news considering Peat has given up 7 quarterback pressures in that time, nearly as many as Ruiz (4) and center Erik McCoy (4) combined, but on just 164 pass-blocking snaps. It’s a mismatch to say the least. Jones has created 9 pressures going against left guards in his last four games, so Peat must turn in his best game of the year if Brees hopes to remain upright.
Jenkins has been the Saints’ go-to matchup for pass-catching tight ends in recent weeks, and the stats show why: he’s allowed just 3 catches for 28 yards to tight ends in his last four games. Then again, he hasn’t faced anyone like Kelce. Kelce is a monster through the air, posting an NFL passer rating when targeted of 129.8, second-best on the team over the last month. Compare that to the 88.9 Jenkins has allowed (to all opponents, regardless of position) in the same period. Jenkins is a wiley veteran who should be their best option at slowing Kelce down, but it’s still going to be a challenge.
Saints RB Alvin Kamara vs Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens
It’s possible that the Chiefs get creative and assign a versatile defensive back like Tyrann Mathieu to cover Kamara, but Hitchens is the likelier bet. He leads all Kansas City linebackers in coverage snaps this year (252), though he hasn’t been very effective. The same could be said of Kamara, who has caught just 10 passes for 51 yards with Taysom Hill starting the last four weeks. Before that, though, Kamara reeled in 67 receptions for 648 yards when working with Brees. They should connect early and often.
Chiefs RT Mike Remmers vs Saints DE Cameron Jordan
Remmers is already starting in place of the injured Mitchell Schwartz, but he himself is doubtful after missing a week of practice with his own injury. If Remmers can’t play, it’ll fall to undrafted rookie Yasir Durant to fill in on the right side. Whoever starts, they’ll be matched up with Jordan, who leads all Saints players in pass rushes off the left end over the last four weeks (107 snaps), with a team-high 17 quarterback pressures during that span. Remmers has allowed the second-most pressures for Kansas City in that same period (11, on 172 snaps), but Durant gave up a pair of pressures (including a sack) on just 13 snaps as Remmers’ in-game replacement.