New England Patriots: The biggest X-factor vs. the New Orleans Saints

Kyle Van Noy #53 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Kyle Van Noy #53 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots’ biggest X-factor vs. the New Orleans Saints is a linebacker who was one of their top free-agent signings. He is just back from injury.

It will be Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy’s return couldn’t be more timely as the Patriots’ super edge player Matt Judon could be out with a knee injury this week, even though he played the entire game vs. the Jets

Judon’s injury makes Van Noy’s versatility all the more important. Van Noy can play both inside and on the edge. This is an asset for the team’s defense that is multiplied in importance when injuries inevitably take their toll.

Why New England Patriots Kyle Van Noy is the X-factor against New Orleans

Van Noy’s return gives head coach Bill Belichick a solid veteran three-down option to replace Judon if he can’t go Sunday at Gillette Stadium against the Saints.

Van Noy’s experience and talent will be critical to stopping a Saints offense led by quarterback Jameis Winston and super running back Alvin Kamara.

Kamara is an all-purpose back who can do anything and everything while Winston, though coming off a loss against the Carolina Panthers, threw five touchdown passes in the first week’s win against the Green Bay Packers.

The Saints are smarting after a 27-6 loss to Carolina last week and will be anxious to get back on track against a New England team that has yet to determine exactly what it is.

Van Noy’s experience and likely early-down edge role will provide additional pass-rush capability from the outside.

Additionally, he will help to try to contain Kamara who can hurt a defense both on the ground and through the air. Kamara is a threat anytime he touches the ball.

The usual approach in a situation like this by the New England Patriots is to take away an opponent’s top threat (if they can) and let them try to beat New England with what’s left.

An option for Belichick in this situation is to try to shut down Kamara possibly with a shadow, and Van Noy is capable of filling that role, as could be Josh Uche.

In any event, Van Noy’s presence will be an asset to the Patriots’ defense against Kamara’s threat anytime the talented linebacker is on the field.

His experience and savvy, aided by Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, and hopefully Judon (but that seems unlikely) are some of the best weapons Belichick can deploy to try to stop Kamara.

In actuality, there is little chance of stopping the New Orleans star, but containing him is essential if the Patriots are to emerge from this tilt with a win.

Making Winston beat you with an offensive line that allowed four sacks against Carolina seems like a good option for Belichick to adopt Sunday.

The New England Patriots’ pass rush has been decent thus far this season with six sacks in two games. Unfortunately, their defense hasn’t been successful enough in stopping the run.

The run defense is allowing a decent 4.2 yards per rush overall, but it is trending downward. Against the New York Jets, they allowed a whopping 152 yards at a healthy 4.9 yards per carry.

Next. Mac Jones off to a good start despite lack of help. dark

Remedying this deficiency was an offseason priority for the team but the additions have not quite lived up to expectations. Against Kamara and the Saints, it will be pivotal.

Fortunately, the Patriots can add Kyle Van Noy to the defensive mix to help try to bottle up Kamara and the Saints rushing game.

If successful, they can hopefully count on their outstanding defensive backfield to curtail Winston, Kamara, and company in the air. If not, it will be a long Sunday afternoon.