FOXBORO -- Of course the Saints offense is getting all of the attention his week.
Drew Brees and his talented targets roll into Gillette this weekend with a No. 2 NFL ranking for net passing yards per game (326.8). And the receivers are often looked to last. Tight end Jimmy Graham, and running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas all have more catches than the still-dangerous Marques Colston.
Almost makes you forget there's a Rob Ryan defense on the other side. Well, maybe you've forgotten about it. The Patriots certainly haven't.
"They've definitely been doing a good job this year," Julian Edelman said Wednesday. "With Coach Ryan, you have to be prepared for everything, and play within your own scheme and your rules because you don't necessarily know what's going to come."
Bill Belichick, who remembers well Ryan's days as Patriots linebackers coach between 2000 and 2003, talked about what he's expecting to see from the Saints defense Sunday night.
"He’s sound fundamentally and he does game plan things from week to week that try to attack the opponent’s weaknesses. Depending on what you do and how you do it and what he has available, what resources he has, then he’s going to come up with some type of individual game plan for you that may or may not look like something that he’s run in previous weeks. That’s specifically based toward what the offensive opponent is doing and what the personnel matchups are that week."
If you sit these offenses side by side, New Orleans has the obvious edge. The Saints are scoring 26.8 points per game. New England dropped to 19 after not scoring one touchdown in a loss to Cincinnati last weekend.
The Patriots are only converting touchdowns in the red zone 35.3-percent of the time. And this, despite averaging nearly three and a half opportunities a contest.
"You get down in the red zone and you want to score touchdowns," rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins said. "Sometimes scoring three points, it can hurt you. Unfortunately, that's what cost us in the Cincinnati game."
New Orleans' defense allows 2.6 red zone chances per game. Opponents convert only 1.6 of those chances.
"From the looks of it, it looks like they game plan a bunch of stuff according to the week," Edelman said. "We're going to have to play sound football, not play dumb football, play with our scheme, and just execute what we have to do."
Added Aaron Dobson: "They're definitely disguising defenses. We just can't get fooled on what they're doing."
More than a few offensive players on the Patriots mentioned the need to get on the same page. They spoke of communication issues and mental mistakes that shouldn't be cropping up after five weeks of regular season football.
"We just haven't been clicking as much, like last game," Edelman admitted. "We're going to be out here, tackle it in the film room, and we're going to get better, have good practices, and hopefully execute in the game."
This is not a week to rely on the defense for a shutdown. New England will have to punch it in against the Saints if they want a shot at winning Sunday night.
No pressure, right?
"We try not to think of it as pressure," Dobson said. "We just try to go out there and do our job. If you think of it as pressure, too much mental things happen then. We've just got to go out there, do our job, and have fun."