Saints 2021 schedule previews: New England Patriots

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·5 min read
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As we continue with our seasonal opponent matchup previews, we are now moving on to the New England Patriots. Much like the previous two teams, the Patriots have entered a new era of football as the franchise moved on from Tom Brady in 2020, brought in Cam Newtown, and has just recently drafted Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

New England had a very active offseason (more on that in a minute) and they still employ head coach Bill Belichick. Therefore, expectations for this team are still high, especially as they turn their focus towards the future.

The Patriots represent the third-straight test for the New Orleans Saints to start the season. Regardless of what questions fans have regarding what this team will be, they will be answered in relatively short fashion.

So, who are the Patriots this season? Let’s find out:

Game Information

Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Everything you need to know:

  • When: 12:00 p.m. CT, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021

  • Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Ma

  • TV: FOX

Expectations for New England

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Regardless of who is under center, as long as Belichick is in charge the expectations for this team will always be high. Despite drafting Jones in the 2021 NFL draft, it appears Newton will at least begin the season as the starting quarterback. After dealing with shoulder issues and looing like he was throwing a tomahawk instead of a football last season, Newton could have a bounce back season. His knowledge of the playbook should have expanded and his personal expectations under Belichick should be clear by now. Regardless, the spending spree in free agency should only reinforce that New England is preparing to return to its winning ways, or as those in Boston like to call it the "Patriot way." Every game will be a test for the Patriots this season, especially if they do make a quarterback change at some point in the season. The matchup against the Saints holds similar implications for both sides. As for their projected win total: BetMGM has set the over/under at 9.5, just ahead of the Saints themselves at 9 flat. But it's going to competitive in the AFC East, where the Bills (11) have higher expectations while the Dolphins (9.5) are tied with New England, and the Jets (6) are hoping to make some noise with a new coach and quarterback.

Key Additions

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agency/Trades

After having some of the most cap space to utilize in the league, New England went on a spending spree in free agency. Here are some of the biggest names they signed to help revamp this next iteration of Belichick's squad:

  • Hunter Henry, Tight End

  • Matthew Judon, Linebacker

  • Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker

  • Nelson Agholor, Wide Receiver

  • Jonnu Smith, Tight End

New England also signed a whole host of depth players that they hope will have an impact this season. The Patriots directly addressed their glaring holes on both sides of the ball and the defense, all of sudden, looks like it could once again be a real strength. As for the offensive side of the ball, their signings indicate that they are giving whoever lines up under center some reliable weapons and outlets (Agholor's hands withstanding). That is a good thing for either Newton, who has questions about his arm strength, and Jones who is a rookie.

2021 NFL draft

  • First round, 15th overall: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

  • Second round, 38th overall: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama

  • Third round, 70th overall: DE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma

Much like in free agency, New England is thought to have had a stellar draft. Once again, they directly addressed their needs early and drafted two or three players that will immediately start. The Patriots favored Alabama players early and with good reason. Most taken in the early rounds have proven they are NFL-ready and New England is expecting not just to compete for, but win the AFC East this season. Jones is clearly the future of the franchise, or at least that is the idea. However, it remains to be seen when or if he will get any action in 2021.

Key Losses

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots did experience some loss this offseason, but not on a magnitude that they will be greatly affected by. Perhaps the biggest loss is playoffs legend Julian Edelman who retired this offseason. His production on the field and presence in the locker will be greatly missed as this team turns a new corner. Other departures include offensive lineman Joe Thuney, safety Patrick Chung, receiver Donte Moncrief, cornerback Jason McCourty, and running back Rex Burkhead. Again, the Patriots mitigated many of these losses and even improved in areas through the draft and free agency. Overall, this should be a better team than the 2020 version of itself.

Series History and Preview

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans and New England have met each other 14 times over the years with the Patriots holding a 10-4 advantage over the Saints. The previous three matchups were must-watch television as they featured two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Once again, both of these two franchises have entered into a new stage of their existence and both have a lot to prove. What does remain the same, and why this game will likely draw viewership, is the coaching battle that will ensue between one of the greatest defensive minds in Belichick and one the greatest offensive in Sean Payton. Neither of these two coaches will relent, just as they have not done in their previous three meetings. This matchup against the Patriots will be a huge test to see what kind of heart and soul this Saints team has now that they are facing life after Brees.

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