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New Orleans Saints expect cerebral attack from New England

'I know the challenge, and I know going to bed that night I will be extremely exhausted mentally'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4 of the 2023 NFL season including quarterback Derek Carr (4).

Derek Carr is pretty certain that he's going to be exhausted Sunday night, perhaps even more so mentally than physically.

Sunday will be the fifth time in his NFL career that the New Orleans Saints quarterback has faced a Bill Belichick-coached New England team, when the Saints (2-2) play the Patriots (1-3) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

And each time, as the Patriots have done with just about every quarterback they've faced while Belichick has compiled 299 victories, New England has forced that quarterback to apply the depths of his wits in order to produce success.

"I know the challenge, and I know going to bed that night I will be extremely exhausted mentally," Carr said. "It's taxing on your mind, there's a lot of things to handle but I'm excited for that challenge. Any time you get a chance to go against the best, it's a fun opportunity."

Carr's Raiders teams went 1-3 in his previous games against the Patriots, with the Raiders producing their only victory last season, in a 30-24 win. The previous three games resulted in an average Patriots victory of 28-12, though overall Carr threw six touchdowns and three interceptions, with two lost fumbles, in the four games.

Each team is coming off a disappointing performance, the Saints in a 26-9 loss to Tampa Bay and the Patriots, a 38-3 loss to Dallas in which starting quarterback Mac Jones was benched in the third quarter.

New England is averaging 13.8 points and 320 yards per game and has scored 17 or less three times. But while the Patriots allow 24.3 points per game, the number is skewed by Sunday's 38 points by Dallas; New England only allows 297 yards per game and has played in three games decided by one score.

"This group is smart, instinctive, they tackle well," Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said. "They're going to make you earn everything. Obviously, extremely well-coached. You just see, when you're watching the film, you see a disciplined team. It's a big challenge."

"Some teams are going to try to take some guys away, especially this team that we play this week," Carr said. "They're the kings of doing that.

"They try and take away what you like best, in other ways they like to make you play left-handed – all those different terms that we throw around. There's no denying (Belichick's) success, there's no denying what he's been able to accomplish in being one of the best coaches, if not the best coach to ever coach football. That's a pretty amazing statement.

"He has time after time after time proven, in every and all circumstance, that he can get his guys ready to go and being able to take away your best things that you do and attacking what they feel are your weaknesses are things that they do great."

New Orleans seeks to find a rhythm after totaling three field goals and 197 yards against the Buccaneers, and just 26 points and 449 yards in the last two games. But the Saints partially cleansed their pallet with a strong week of preparation.

"Since I was little, you get taught the best lessons through playing the sport," Carr said. "Playing any sport. Crap's tough sometimes. Life is hard. I've dealt with things way tougher than this with my son, or with my grandparents. This is football.

"It's tough, it's hard, your back is against the wall a little bit. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to fight, or are you going to quit?

"I think we're finding out a lot about our guys this week in their preparation, and hopefully guys are taking it to another level of getting in on those details so that we can all as a whole – offense, defense, special teams – be cleaner and feel better about it."

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