Editor’s note: As we head into Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints, we welcome Managing Editor Chris Dunnells of Canal Street Chronicles — our sister site covering the Saints — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1) Had Sean Payton drafted Patrick Mahomes back in 2017, do you think he would have been as successful as he has been in Kansas City?
Andy Reid is a great coach, but I ultimately have the utmost faith in Sean Payton as an offensive play-caller to have made Patrick Mahomes look just as good — if not better (if that’s even conceivably possible) — in a New Orleans offense. Mahomes might not have seen the field as early in his career as he was able to in Kansas City, but if we’re operating under the assumption that Mahomes and Payton are together at some point, then yes. I think Payton is one of a couple of coaches in the NFL who could get the best out of Mahomes — Reid and maybe Shanahan in San Francisco being the others.
2) Who’s been the Saints’ standout defensive player?
The defensive play usually starts and ends with captain Demario Davis. Davis has rejuvenated his career as the middle linebacker in New Orleans with his ability to make plays at different levels on the field. He can rush the center gaps to get after the quarterback, he can make tackles in the backfield, and he can also carry players in coverage if he needs to. He’s a leader on the field, in the locker room and in the community (he’s also the Saints’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee). He’s a sure tackler and a smart football mind who will be trying to keep pace with Mahomes and Reid as they move players around the formation.
3) In 2012, Jamaal Charles ran riot in the Superdome. Would you say Chalres and Alvin Kamara is a good comparison?
That’s probably a fair comparison, but I’d say Kamara can be even more electric than Charles with the ball in his hands. Jamaal Charles was a great player with the Chiefs — and I’m not trying to take anything away from him — but if you’d pardon the potential blasphemy, I think Kamara is more like Priest Holmes. The two have similar height/weight builds, and they’re both incredibly difficult to bring down in the open field.
4) How do you expect the Saints to move the ball down the field on the Chiefs defense?
Now that it’s been announced that Drew Brees is expected to return, I’d expect the Saints offense to go back to a Brees-style of offense — pre-snap motion, short throws and lots of Alvin Kamara in the passing game. Considering Brees’ injuries, I’d also expect heavy doses of the running game, play-action and quick throws out of the shotgun to try to keep Brees clean in the pocket.
5) How will this one play out?
Even with the return of Drew Brees, I expect the Saints to be a little rusty out of the gate, get behind, be forced to abandon the run game and then try to chase points. That is not a recipe for success for the Saints offense. I’ll say Chiefs 31-21.