The Monday night showdown in New Orleans is shaping up to be one for the ages. Both the 10-0 Saints and the 7-3 Pats want to use tonight\’s match-up as a springboard for the remaining six weeks of the season as well as use this game as a benchmark for their progress thus far.
As far as the Saints are concerned, they have put the lid on most of their critics, but a win against the Pats would seal their place as a serious super bowl contender. They have had an incredible offense this year with QB Drew Brees and his receiving core of Marcus Colston and Devery Henderson as well as a strong running attack with Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell. The most improved piece of the Saints this season has been their defense. With DE Will Smith and his 8.5 sacks this season anchoring the defensive line and S Darren Sharper and his 7 interceptions looming in the secondary, it will be tough for Tom Brady to have the time to find the any open seams.
On the Patriots sideline, they are fired up at the chance to prove that they are a legitimate playoff team. Thus far in 09 they have picked up momentum after a slow start. Brady has settled in and has been throwing strong accurate passes as of late. With WR Wes Welker for the short quick routes and WR Randy Moss for the deep shots down field, the Patriot passing attack matches what the Saints can do through the air, but RB Laurence Maroney and their other backs have been suspect at best. The big question mark is the Patriot defense. They have given up 20+ points in 4 of their 11 games this season and playing in a loud dome can be difficult to pick up on audibles at the line, making the Saints more difficult to defend. If the Pats defense can get by the big Saints offensive line (315+ pounds each) and get pressure on Brees, then they have a good shot at derailing the red hot Saints.
No matter how you look at it, this should be an excellent match-up between two of football\’s best QBs and offenses and it will probably come down to who has the ball last when the 4th quarter ends.
Prediction: Patriots by 3