5 New England Patriots Players That Must Step Up vs. New Orleans Saints

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Five Patriots Players That Must Step Up vs. Saints

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are in for a tough test today as the team goes up against the New Orleans Saints. Even though this game is at Gillette Stadium, there is a distinct vibe that home-field advantage won't matter.

New Orleans is easily the toughest team that New England has faced thus far. If it weren't for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, more people would be talking about Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He's up to his usually tricks again, throwing for 300 yards in all but one game this season (and just barely missing 300 yards in the game he didn't).

Most prolific quarterbacks have prolific targets, and it's no different for Brees. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has been the best tight end in the NFL so far. He may have tight end size, but Graham runs routes and catches passes like a wide receiver.

What's even more surprising is the Saints' defense. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has this unit revived, though he is working with some serious talent. Defensive end Cameron Jordan is proving that the switch to a 3-4 defense is just what the doctor ordered. The same can be said for rush linebacker Junior Galette, who is looking good as a stand-up pass rusher. Even rookie strong safety Kenny Vaccaro is looking good.

Basically, the Saints have a similar offense to last season, but with way better defense. Ryan's unit may give up yards, but it certainly does not surrender points. And if he can help keep points off the board, then Brees and the offense can and will have another field day today.

Though the task of beating the 5-0 Saints seems insurmountable, here are five Patriots players that need to contribute to make that happen.

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5. Tom Brady, QB

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Brady has to better than he was last week. It will take at least three touchdowns to win this game.

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4. Stevan Ridley, RB

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ridley must re-assume his role as lead dog in the backfield if the Pats are going to have anything that resembles a ground game.

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3. Dont'a Hightower, ILB

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Here's one of the guys who will be tasked with containing the electrifying Jimmy Graham.

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2. Jerod Mayo, ILB

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Inside linebackers stick together. Mayo will be splitting the duties with Hightower when it comes to shutting down Graham.

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1. Danny Amendola, WR

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody wants to see Amendola drop the ball three times again. He should be more healed from his groin injury and should start producing like the no. 1 wide receiver that he's supposed to be.

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