Here’s a sentence you won’t see often: This week, the winless New England Patriots and winless New Orleans Saints square off.
Of course, it’s just preseason, and win-loss records hardly matter. Nevertheless, it’s still rare to see an 0-1 record next to two teams that have been among the best in the NFL for the past decade.
Tom Brady, Drew Brees and other starters will be limited, if they even play at all. But neither Bill Belichick nor Sean Payton will be satisfied if their team drops to 0-2. That will make this a compelling battle. Here’s a look at everything you need to know.
Date: Saturday, August 22, 2015
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
TV Channel: WBZ in Boston; WVUE in New Orleans. Click here for a full list of local affiliates
Live Stream: NFL.com
Odds: New Orleans (-2), Over/Under 42, via OddsShark.com
Patriots Player to Watch: Jimmy Garoppolo
It’s still unclear if Tom Brady’s four-game suspension will stick, but until anything is decided, Garoppolo is the Patriots’ Week 1 starter.
But judging by his performance last week, he may not be ready for that role. Garoppolo completed 20 of 30 throws for just 159 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. He took seven sacks, displaying mediocre awareness, and was given a negative-4.7 grade by Pro Football Focus, the second worst among all Patriots offensive players. In his nine series under center, New England scored just 11 points, with eight of those coming thanks to 55-yard touchdown run and subsequent two-point conversion by Jonas Gray.
Preseason stats don’t always correlate to the regular season, but this is about much more than numbers. If Garoppolo is going to ease the concern of Patriots fans, he needs to show better awareness and accuracy in the pocket.
Saints Player to Watch: Brandon Coleman
With the departures of Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Pierre Thomas, the Saints have a lot of production to replace in the passing game. While Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston are likely to eat up a lot of the targets from Drew Brees, there almost has to be a breakout player in this offense.
And it’s looking increasingly likely that Brandon Coleman will be that player. The Rutgers product, who went undrafted last year, has impressed during training camp and seemingly surpassed Nick Toon for No. 3 WR on the depth chart.
Coleman didn’t do anything last week against the Baltimore Ravens, but he’s an intriguing player nonetheless. With elite size (6’6″, 225 pounds) and solid athleticism, he has the chance to be a dangerous player in this offense. Keep a close eye on him, especially if he gets snaps with the first team.
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