The undefeated New Orleans Saints storm into Gillette tomorrow to take on a Patriots team coming off one of its' ugliest games in recent memory.
How can the Patriots turn it around and hand the Saints their first loss of the year?
Run the ball. A lot.
The Patriots rushing attack, which they bizarrely abandoned last week, has been the most consistent facet of the offense this year. Fumbling issues aside, the three headed running game of Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden has been efficient and the offensive line has been great in creating holes and the Pats will need to rely heavily on their three backs for two important reasons.
The first is that running the ball helps speed up the clock and keeps Drew Brees off the field. The Pats can't hope to outgun the Saints with its current personnel. If the Pats are drawn into a shootout, Brees surrounding passing talent will outstrip what Brady can bring to the table. Running the ball through Ridley and Blount will give the Pats a consistent way to move the ball, but more importantly, it will allow the Patriots to control the clock.
The second reason why the Patriots should focus on the ground game is that it should be especially effective against New Orleans. The Saints defense is much improved thanks to new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, but there is one area where the Saints are glaringly weak; run defense. Per Christopher Price of WEEI:
One weakness for the Saints that fairly jumps off the page is their run defense. New Orleans is average to below average when it comes to stopping the run, and its 5.4 yards per carry allowed is the worst in the league.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to take the ball out of Brady's hands, it will be necessary for the Patriots to take home a win against a very potent Saints team.
What do you think is the most important thing that the Patriots must do to beat the Saints?