Curran: Three things to watch during Pats-Saints

Curran: Three things to watch during Pats-Saints
October 13, 2013, 3:15 pm
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The countdown to Patriots-Saints at 4:30 p.m., and here are some final items to ruminate on before kickoff.
 
SPEED CONCERNS
The key play in last week’s loss to the Bengals was their third-and-15 conversion late in the third quarter. That was a rare moment when Cincy went hurry-up and the Patriots defense wasn’t ready for it. New England cannot have that kind of issue this week because the Saints are all tempo, all the time and will hit the gas pedal on the Patriots defense.
 
RED ZONE RESULTS
With no Rob Gronkowski, the ability to challenge the middle of the field and seam with a big body is again going to be very low. We saw the implications of that last Sunday when the Patriots got in deep against Cincy and the Bengals just loaded the box from tackle-to-tackle and dared the Patriots to beat them on the perimeter and they didn’t have a player with which to do that. The Bengals could deal with the New England running game, though, especially without Stevan Ridley. The Saints are not as good against the run -– by a far sight –- and the Patriots will have a better shot managing in close.
 
THE OTHER GUYS
Drew Brees told media that, even if the Patriots sell out to deal with Jimmy Graham, he believes that Darren Sproles and Marques Colston can have breakout games. If they are the focal point, the Patriots have already won a battle because they Graham is far and away their best weapon. And the Patriots are healthy enough in the back to deal with Colston, but Sproles is an issue in mismatches with linebackers.