WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
A confluence of circumstances caused the Cincinnati disaster. An excellent defense playing at home with the speed, talent and beef to generate pressure with minimum use of blitzes. Also, a good group of secondary players athletic enough to blanket the Patriots wideouts. Without a changeup back or a tight end to take the heat off of the perimeter players, the Patriots were swimming upstream. A great game plan by the Bengals, drops by the Patriots wideouts and some stray throws and it looked like teams do when their offenses sputter. New Orleans doesn’t generate its pressure in the same way the Bengals do. And that’s good news for the Patriots. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is known as an aggressive defensive coach and he makes good use of his pass rushing edge guys Junior Gallette and Cameron Jordan. But the Saints do give up chunks on the ground, as a 5..4 yards per carry allowed stat shows. The return of Stevan Ridley to the running game will give some diverse skill and the Patriots should be able to stay out of the third-and-several situations that killed them last week. The Patriots are going to find more room to work downfield than they did last week and – with the Saints needing to use blitzes to get Tom Brady off his spot – the chance to get plays in screens and down the middle should arise. Gronk or not, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will be in business on Sunday.