9 Saints players to watch in Sunday’s Patriots game


The Saints boast several Pro Bowlers on their roster but have gotten off to a disappointing 2-2 start this season.

Chris Olave is one of the game’s top young receivers. AP Photo/Morry Gash

The Patriots enter Week 5 in desperate need of a win, and they face a Saints team that would like to prevent its losing skid from turning into a losing streak.

New Orleans enters its matchup in New England with a 2-2 record, losing its last two games as it blew a 17-0 lead to Green Bay in Week 3 before falling at home to Tampa Bay last week.

The Saints might have more talent than their record indicates, though. They boast a handful of players who have been Pro Bowlers in recent seasons and were the favorite to win the NFC South before the season.

Here are nine Saints players to watch in Sunday’s game against the Patriots.

Derek Carr

Set to play in his fifth game with the Saints on Sunday, Carr has had trouble against the Patriots dating all the way back to his rookie season with the Raiders in 2014.

The 10-year pro has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 903 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions with an 82.2 passer rating, 5.9 yards per passing attempt, and three fumbles (two lost) over four games.

If you recall, Carr was able to get his first win over the Patriots last season when Jakobi Meyers’s lateral to Mac Jones ended up in Chandler Jones’s hands, allowing the Raiders defender to get the winning score as time expired. Carr had a mixed bag of stats in that game. He threw for three touchdowns but completed just 52.6 percent of his passes and had a near-costly pick-6 when he threw a screen pass that was intercepted by Kyle Dugger.

Dugger’s pick-6 actually marked the second straight game against Carr that the Patriots were able to get a defensive score off a turnover he committed. In 2020, Deatrich Wise recorded a strip sack of the quarterback before scooping the ball up to get a score in a Patriots 36-20 win over the Raiders.

Even as they play their first game without Christian Gonzalez and Matthew Judon, the Patriots could expect to see a similar version of Carr. He hasn’t been too impressive in his first four games in New Orleans, completing 64.5 percent of his passes 763 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions with an 80.1 passer rating.

Carr is also dealing with a sprained joint in his throwing shoulder, which he played through last week. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. If he is unable to go, Jameis Winston would get the start for the Saints.

Alvin Kamara

The Saints star running back was active in his first game back from a three-game suspension, posting 24 total touches in the Saints’ loss to the Buccaneers.

Kamara was efficient on the ground, rushing for 51 yards on 11 carries (4.6 yards per carry). Even though he had 13 receptions. Kamara didn’t record as many receiving yards, posting 33 receiving yards in the loss.

Kamara’s performance in Week 4 is an encouraging sign for the Saints after he had less-than-stellar seasons in 2021 and 2022. He rushed for 1,795 yards on just 3.9 yards per carry and had 104 receptions for 929 yards over the last two seasons, recording 13 total touchdowns.

In 2021, Kamara didn’t have the most efficient outing against the Patriots, recording 89 yards on just 3.7 yards per carry. That Patriots defense could have another strong outing on Sunday as it ranks ninth in yards per carry against (3.8) this season.

Chris Olave and Michael Thomas

The Ohio State products could be one of the league’s more talented wide receiver duos. However, they haven’t had much of a chance to showcase their talent together.

Olave is coming off a strong rookie season, in which he caught 72 passes for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns over 15 games to finish fourth in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Thomas, meanwhile, regularly posted 1,000-plus receiving yards between 2016-19 before injuries derailed him the last three seasons.

Well, Thomas has been fully healthy this season and Olave looked prime to make a Year 2 jump. Yet, the Saints’ aerial game hasn’t been too stellar this season. Olave actually put up strong numbers through the first three games of the season, recording 22 receptions for 302 yards, but only had one reception for four yards last week with Carr dealing with an injury.

Thomas’s stats have been more steady through each of the first four games, looking OK but not great. He has 22 receptions for 219 yards, recording at least 50 receiving yards in each game. However, neither Olave nor Thomas has recorded a touchdown so far this season.

The duo could benefit from a battered Patriots secondary. Three of their top four corner are on injured reserve while Jonathan Jones remains questionable for Sunday’s game after missing the last three weeks. The Cowboys used a measured passing attack after Gonzalez went down early last week, with three receivers recording at least 50 receiving yards and five receivers recording at least four receptions.

Cameron Jordan and Bryan Bresee

While the Saints’ offense has been underwhelming so far this season, their defense has been solid, ranking ninth in yards allowed and 11th in scoring.

New Orleans’ defensive line is a big reason for that. At 34, Jordan is still performing at a high level so far this season. The eight-time Pro Bowler only has a half-sack so far this season, but has recorded 19 pressures through the first four games, via Pro Football Focus. That’s tied for 10th among all edge rushers so far this season.

Bill Belichick praised the Saints star Wednesday.

“Jordan is one of the players I have the most respect for in the league,” Belichick told reporters. “He’s been a great player for a long time, very durable, whatever it was – 177 straight games he played. This guy shows up every week and plays well, run, pass, situational football, really smart player. This guy’s a great player.”

The Saints opted to add some more help along the defensive line in the draft this season, selecting Clemson standout Bryan Bresee with their first-round pick. Bresee’s delivered so far for the Saints, recording 1.5 sacks and 10 total pressures, via PFF.

As the rookie defensive tackle is shaping into form, he and Jordan have a favorable matchup on Sunday. The Patriots’ offensive line ranks as one of the worst, if not the worst, in the NFL in terms of pass protection, according to some metrics.

Demario Davis

Jordan isn’t the only star veteran showing out for the Saints’ defense so far this season.

Davis has also had a strong start to the season, recording 25 total tackles and a sack through the first four games. He also has nine run stops so far this season, ranking him among the best in the league in that regard, via PFF.

In fact, Davis has consistently ranked among the best in the league in run stops over the last several years, which explains why he’s earned an All-Pro nod in each of the last four seasons. He’s also recorded 100-plus combined tackles in each of the last six seasons and 90-plus combined tackles in every year but his rookie season.

For a Patriots offense that’s struggled to get the run game going, Davis is going to make it even tougher for them to turn it around.

Marshon Lattimore and Isaac Yiadom

The Saints’ secondary helps round out their impressive defense, which is tied for eighth in takeaways (six) and tied for fourth in interceptions (five). Both Lattimore and Yiadom have chipped in with that, with each recording an interception this season.

Many NFL fans likely know Lattimore by now. The four-time Pro Bowler has been one of the game’s best corners since he entered the NFL in 2017, recording 14 interceptions over his first six seasons. One of those interceptions came in the Saints’ last game against the Patriots, recording an interception of Mac Jones to seal the win for New Orleans.

Lining up on the other end of the field is a corner that might be in the midst of a breakout season. Yiadom has performed well since he was inserted as the Saints’ other outside corner in Week 3, intercepting Baker Mayfield in last week’s loss to the Buccaneers.

The Boston College product has made it tough for opposing receivers, too. He has a league-high seven passes defended and has only allowed eight completions on 17 targets for 57 yards when quarterbacks have thrown his direction this season.

Prior to 2023, Yiadom was a bit of a journeyman. The Broncos selected him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After he spent two seasons in Denver, Yiadom was traded to New York to play for the Giants ahead of the 2020 season. He played with the Packers in 2021 and was with the Texans for training camp in 2022 before getting cut. He didn’t end up finding a new home until late last season, signing a practice squad deal with New Orleans in November.

If Lattimore and Yiadom can replicate what they’ve shown in the early parts of the season on Sunday, it’s going to spell more problems for Jones and the Patriots’ passing game.