NFL Football: New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 26, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 1 p.m. ET, Sept. 26, 2021
Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Where to watch: FOX

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Patriots -3; O/U 41.5; Patriots -160, Saints +140
BetMGM: Patriots -3; O/U 42; Patriots -154, Saints +130
Caesars: Patriots -3; O/U 41.5; Patriots -160, Saints +140

Season record
Saints: 1-1
Patriots: 1-1

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Saints - Patriots preview and analysis


Recent form
Saints: lost 26-7 at Panthers in Week 2
Patriots: won 25-6 at Jets in Week 2

We’re just over here trying to figure out when the appropriate time is to use the moniker “Return of the Mac.”

Before anyone gets all riled up, defeating the New York Jets isn’t going to be the crowning moment for New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones. His first NFL win, however, is noteworthy after a 19-point win at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

But now Jones and the Patriots return to Foxboro on Sunday to welcome the New Orleans Saints fresh off a whooping they received at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.

After a solid debut against the Miami Dolphins that resulted in a crushing one-point loss at home, Jones bested rookie counterpart Zach Wilson with 186 yards while going 22-of-30. To be fair, it would’ve taken a whole lot to out-do Wilson’s four interceptions. But the rookie played well and got a strong 62 yards and a Beastmode-like touchdown from Damien Harris.

But even though it was a rookie quarterback facing a Bill Bellichick-coached defense, the Patriots have to feel good after getting four interceptions off the No. 2 overall pick. And considering how bad Jameis Winston looked in Carolina on Sunday, the New England defense is liking these odds.

A week after a five-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers that got everybody and their mother cheering for Famous Jamies, he crashed back down to Earth with two interceptions and 111 yards on an abysmal 11-for-22 performance.

Carolina’s defense manhandled the Saints to the point of Alvin Kamara having only eight carries for five yards. Winston was New Orleans’ leading rusher with 19 yards and a touchdown on three carries. All in all, it’s a continuing process for the Saints in the post-Drew Brees era.

Prediction


I wouldn’t find it to be too alarming, but the fact Winston hasn’t cracked 200 yards in either of his first two Saints starts is intriguing. New Orleans’ defense wasn’t going to be at the same peak it was against the Packers, especially with Marshon Lattimore out of the lineup, and the Panthers proved that. This has all the makings for another solid day for Jones and the offense, and the New England defense will show up to play once again. Patriots by 13

Betting trends


The Saints are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games as an underdog, and 4-1 ATS as a road dog.

New Orleans is 23-10 ATS against AFC East teams in its last 33 games.

New England is 11-7 straight up in its last 18 home games and 8-9 against the spread. 

Players to watch


Saints: New Orleans needs Michael Thomas back in the worst possible way. Kamara was the Saints’ leading receiver with four catches for 25 yards. After two touchdowns in Week 1, maybe tight end Juwan Johnson is someone Winston should target more. He had only one catch for 23 yards in Carolina.

Patriots: After a strong stint in Las Vegas, Nelson Agholor has gotten off to a great start in New England with 93 yards and a touchdown. Look for a lot of targets his way should Lattimore miss another game.

Key injuries


Saints: CB Marshon Lattimore (thumb, questionable)

Patriots: LB Kyle Van Noy (questionable)

Statistical leaders


Saints:
Passing: Jameis Winston -- 259 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Alvin Kamara -- 88 yards
Receiving: Deonte Harris -- 81 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Demario Davis -- 16 tackles

Patriots:
Passing: Mac Jones -- 467 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Damien Harris -- 162 yards,  1 TD
Receiving: James White -- 94 yards; Nelson Agholor -- 93 yards, 1 TD
Defense: J.C. Jackson -- 2 INT

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All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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