A defensive rebound propels the Pats to a special win in Philly!

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PHI 3 7 0 0 10

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Yesterday’s game between the Patriots and Eagles (5-5) was a far cry from their high-powered matchup in Super Bowl LII, as the two teams combined for just over 500 yards in a game that featured 16 punts. The Patriots prevailed 17-10, and improved to 9-1 on the season, which keeps them atop the AFC through 11 weeks.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s victory.

1. Don’t count out the Patriots’ defense!

The Patriots’ defense didn’t get off to the greatest of starts in this game, as the very first offensive snap for Philadelphia resulted in a 49-yard pass interference penalty by Jason McCourty, which led to a field goal by Jake Elliott. The Eagles followed this up by driving 95 yards in over 9 minutes to extend their lead to 10-0 on a touchdown by Dallas Goedert (which was initially ruled an interception). The turning point of this game came shortly after, as the Eagles lost their All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson to a concussion, which enabled Bill Belichick and the defensive staff to dial up the pressure on Carson Wentz. The Patriots were able to sack Wentz 5 times (including a strip sack by Danny Shelton), and prevented him from gaining any sort of momentum.

On Philadelphia’s penultimate drive, they were able to drive the ball down the field before failing to advance past the Patriots’ 26-yard line. Wentz threw 4 straight incompletions to end the drive, including a shot to the end zone that was dropped by Nelson Agholor on fourth down. Almost fittingly, this game ended the same way as Super Bowl LII, with the losing team launching an ill-fated Hail Mary attempt that wound up incomplete.

This a great rebound for the Patriots following their debacle in Baltimore, but there is still a great deal to improve on as the season progresses.

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(Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

2. Offensive struggles continue

Once again, the Patriots’ offense appeared to be out of sync, and I think that much of their struggles can be attributed to the stout performance by Philadelphia’s defensive line. The Eagles feasted on a weak offensive line, and were able to consistently get after Brady, which forced him to scramble around on several occasions. The Eagles were able to sack Brady once, and hit him an additional 6 times. At the same time, Brady cannot be absolved from his poor performance, as he appeared to lack rhythm from time to time. For instance, the first double pass attempted by the Patriots could have resulted in an interception, as the throw by Brady was behind Phillip Dorsett.

With the Patriots floundering in the red zone, and trailing by a point in the opening frame of the second half, Josh McDaniels dialed up a trick play, which resulted in Julian Edelman throwing a touchdown to Dorsett. Following this, the Patriots executed a two-point conversion to give them a 17-10 lead they would not relinquish. In his first game as a pro, N’Keal Harry had 3 receptions for 18 yards, and will hopefully play a larger role in the offense as he becomes more comfortable in the system.

This was definitely an ugly performance by the Patriots’ offense, as they were able to move the ball, but struggled to maintain drives that could have put the game away. If not for spotty play-calling and execution, the Patriots easily could have won this game by double digits, due to the strong performance by their defense. As evidenced by a frustrated Brady during his press conference, the team is definitely aware that something needs to change on offense as they get closer to the postseason.

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(Matt Rourke/AP)

3. Special teams was otherworldly

It’s not very common for the Patriots’ offense to be the weak link during a victory, but that was definitely the case yesterday, as the team’s special teams unit was spectacular against the Eagles. Nick Folk proved that he could be the team’s answer at kicker, as he was 3/3 on field goals that kept the team in the game during the first half. In addition, Jake Bailey, Matthew Slater, and Justin Bethel combined to form a formidable punting attack, as they were able to give Philadelphia bad starting field position on several occasions.

bailey w1119.jpg
(Will Newton/Getty Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 26/47 for 216 yards
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 10 carries for 33 yards
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 5 receptions for 53 yards
  • Defensive: Danny Shelton – 7 total tackles (including 1 strip sack)

Eagles

  • Passing: Carson Wentz – 20/40 for 214 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Miles Sanders – 11 carries for 38 yards
  • Receiving: Zach Ertz – 9 receptions for 94 yards
  • Defensive: Nathan Gerry – 10 total tackles (including 1 sack)

Bonus: 

  1. Bill Belichick had fun 

During his postgame press conference, Bill Belichick mentioned that the team ‘had fun’ during the game, which some saw as a dig at Eagles tackle Lane Johnson, who opined that no-one has fun in New England after the Eagles beat them in Super Bowl LII.

 

What’s next?: The Patriots head home to take on the Dallas Cowboys (6-4). This matchup will be interesting, as it’ll be the first time they play against Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, and the rest of the Cowboys’ young core.

The Pats suffer their first loss of the season in Baltimore!

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The Patriots’ bid for yet another undefeated season ended last night, as they were defeated 37-20 by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens (6-2). The Patriots were uneven on both sides of the ball, and fell behind early, with a couple second-half turnovers putting the game out of reach. This loss drops the Pats to 8-1 on the season, and reduces their lead in the AFC to 1.5 games.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The Patriots’ defense finally had a dud

I’m not going to be a reactionary person, and say that the Patriots’ defense got “exposed” last night, because I don’t think that it gives the Ravens’ offense the credit they deserve. Bill Belichick’s unit is still an elite defense, but Baltimore’s offense was simply better last night, as they were able to out-scheme the Patriots, and win the game due to their power rushing attack. After giving up only 27 points in their last 3 games, the Patriots were gashed by Baltimore for 4 touchdowns. Mark Ingram (15 carries for 115 yards) and Lamar Jackson (16 carries for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns) combined to form a potent rushing attack that accounted for the brunt of Baltimore’s 210 rushing yards. The Ravens’ offensive line was excellent throughout the game, as they effectively cleared lanes for their rushers to run through. This performance (coupled with what Cleveland did to the Patriots in Week 8) may serve as a blueprint for opponents to attack New England down the stretch.

The Patriots’ secondary had a good performance, as they limited Jackson to 163 passing yards, and didn’t allow any receivers to eclipse 50 yards, but they could not force stops in the game’s crucial moments. Jackson is simply a superior athlete, and his agility and maneuverability were on full display last night, as he navigated the pocket with ease, with the Pats only sacking him once and hitting him thrice.

At the same time, the Pats’ defense was able to give the team a crucial spark when they forced Ingram to fumble inside Baltimore’s 20, which led to points for the Patriots’ offense. As most analysts noted, a lot of the Patriots’ struggles last night can be fixed with coaching, as they made unusual mental errors such as penalties that extended Baltimore’s drives and dampened their chances of winning.

These tweets by reporters sum up why we shouldn’t be overreacting to one bad performance by the Patriots’ defense.

This game was definitely a wake up call for the Patriots’ defense, and I am sure that Bill Belichick will be working on ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

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(Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

2. Good offensive performance that was marred by turnovers

The Patriots’ offense started off yesterday’s game very slow, which quickly resulted in a 17-0 deficit that appeared to spell an imminent rout by Baltimore. The Ravens were ultimately able to run away with the game, but it is not fair to say that the Patriots’ offense had a bad performance. Following two recovered fumbles by special teams and the defense, Tom Brady and the offense were able to cut their deficit to 7 points. They were able to move the ball down the field with ease when they quickened their pace, which made it harder for Baltimore to get into blitz packages or make effective substitutions. It was heavily encouraging to see Mohamed Sanu get involved early and often, as he totaled 8 receptions for 81 yards, and scored a touchdown. Sanu has clearly built some chemistry with Brady, which is something the team will have to improve upon as the season progresses. Julian Edelman was his normal self, as he had 10 receptions for 89 yards, and was a matchup problem for Baltimore’s corners throughout the game.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to forget what Edelman and Sanu accomplished last night, due to their involvement in the two turnovers that sealed the game for the Ravens. During the opening drive of the second half, the Patriots were down 17-13, and appeared to be driving to take the lead when Edelman caught a pass from Brady, ducked a tackle and fought for more yardage, when Baltimore forced a fumble that was recovered by Marlon Humphrey for a 70 yard touchdown. The Patriots were able to score a touchdown on their next drive, which cut the lead to 4 once again. Later on in the fourth quarter, and trailing 30-20, New England attempted to mount a comeback when Brady uncorked a deep ball to Sanu that was intercepted by Earl Thomas and returned for 24 yards. Observers noted that Sanu didn’t appear to be fully committed to the route, and didn’t chase after Thomas at full speed, which enabled him to give the Ravens’ offense great field position.

Despite certain “experts” in the media claiming that this game proved why the Pats are declining, I believe that there are several positives for Josh McDaniels to build off of, as the offense becomes more whole over the next few weeks (with the imminent returns of N’Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn to the lineup).

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(Photo via the Boston Globe)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady- 30/46 for 285 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception
  • Rushing: James White – 9 carries for 38 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 10 receptions for 89 yards
  • Defensive: Dont’a Hightower – 13 total tackles

Ravens

  • Passing: Lamar Jackson – 17/23 for 163 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Mark Ingram II – 15 carries for 115 yards
  • Receiving: Marquise Brown – 3 receptions for 48 yards
  • Defensive: Marcus Peters – 8 total tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots have their bye week in Week 10, which should give them plenty of time to fix the errors from this game, and plan ahead for Week 10’s bout with the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4).

Into the Raven’s Nest

The Patriots have a tough task ahead of them tomorrow night as they take on the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) for the first time in three seasons. Over the past decade, the Pats have played a plethora of tight games against the Ravens, but the main difference in this matchup will be the absence of Joe Flacco, who was replaced as Baltimore’s quarterback by Lamar Jackson.

Here are a few things to consider entering tomorrow’s game in Baltimore.

1. Can the Pats’ defense contain Jackson?

The Patriots’ defense has faced a vide variety of quarterbacks over the last nine weeks, including Ben Roethlisberger and Baker Mayfield, and been able to achieve remarkable success in shutting them down. This week’s matchup will be completely different due to Lamar Jackson’s ability as both a passer and a rusher. It will be imperative for Bill Belichick’s defense to keep Jackson in the pocket, and force him to beat them with his arm. It wouldn’t be overly surprising if the defensive staff opts to keep a spy on Jackson in order to track his movements at all times. If the Pats are able to contain Jackson’s rushing ability, it could play right into their hands, due to their dominant secondary.

The most concerning matchup for the Pats’ defense will be Baltimore’s power rushing attack, which could draw inspiration from Cleveland’s game plan that netted Nick Chubb over 100 rushing yards in Week 8. If Baltimore is able to rush the ball effectively, they will be able to dominate the time of possession, and open up the field through play action.

Having a good performance tomorrow will go a long way in preparing the Pats’ defense for the brutal backend of their schedule.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

2. Will the offense deliver?

Tom Brady and the offense have had their ups and downs over the last few weeks, which is understandable for the first half of the season, but starting tomorrow they will need to find some sort of momentum that can take pressure off of their defense.

I would expect the Patriots’ passing attack to be improved this week, as it will be Mohamed Sanu’s second game with the team, which means that he should be more acclimated with the offense’s scheme. In addition, N’Keal Harry was activated off of the injured reserve, which means that he should make his season debut tomorrow. It’s foolish to expect Harry to alleviate all of the Pats’ problems in one game, but having him out there will give Brady a weapon to stretch the field. If Sanu and Harry are able to perform to their abilities, it could make life easier for both Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett.

As is usually the case, the Pats’ offensive line will be crucial in this matchup, as their ability to protect Brady and open lanes for Sony Michel to run through will be imperative in deciding the outcome of this game. Luckily for the offensive line, Shaq Mason may be able to play, after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury.

(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Matt LaCosse (knee) – Out
  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Questionable
  • Patrick Chung (heel/chest) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (chest/shoulder) – Questionable
  • Ryan Izzo (concussion) – Questionable
  • Shaq Mason (ankle) – Questionable
  • Gunner Olszewski (ankle/hamstring) – Questionable
  • James White (toe) – Questionable

Ravens

  • Marquise Brown (ankle/thigh) – Questionable
  • Maurice Canady (thigh) – Questionable
  • Bennett Jackson (ankle) – Questionable
  • Patrick Mekari (back) – Questionable
  • Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) – Questionable
  • Jimmy Smith (knee) – Questionable
  • Earl Thomas (knee) – Questionable

Prediction: Patriots 21, Ravens 17

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 9 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 12-2

Texans vs Jaguars: Texans

Bears at Eagles: Eagles

Vikings at Chiefs: Vikings

Colts at Steelers: Colts

Jets at Dolphins: Jets

Redskins at Bills: Bills

Titans at Panthers: Panthers

Lions at Raiders: Lions

Buccaneers at Seahawks: Seahawks

Packers at Chargers: Packers

Browns at Broncos: Browns

Cowboys at Giants: Cowboys

A dominant first quarter propels the Pats past the Browns!

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CLE 0 7 7 3 13
NE 17 0 7 3 27

Throughout the season, the Patriots have unquestionably been led by their defense, who have been able to stifle opponents and force them into making costly mistakes. Yesterday’s game against the Cleveland Browns (2-5) was no different, as a dominant start by the Pats’ defense gave the team a lead they would not relinquish, en route to a 27-13 win in sloppy conditions. This victory improved New England to 8-0 on the season, and gives them a 2.5 game cushion in the AFC.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The Pats’ defense came to play

As I mentioned in the preview for this game, the utter dominance of Bill Belichick’s defense has been questioned by many due to the supposed weakness of their opponents. This media narrative unfortunately took a hit yesterday, as the Pats were able to rattle Baker Mayfield, and neutralize Odell Beckham Jr (due to an incredible performance by Stephon Gilmore). Even though Nick Chubb was able to gash the Patriots for over 131 yards on the ground, the defense was able to force two crucial turnovers that halted any chance of Cleveland gaining momentum. The first turnover took place deep in Cleveland’s territory, when the ball was kicked out of Chubb’s hands by an offensive linemen and returned for a touchdown by Dont’a Hightower. The second turnover occurred when Chubb outmaneuvered most of the Pats’ defense and appeared to be on his way to end zone, when Jonathan Jones caught up to him and punched the ball out of his hands, forcing a fumble that was ultimately recovered by Devin McCourty. Mayfield also threw an interception, which occurred when Lawrence Guy broke through the line of scrimmage and caught a shovel pass that appeared to be intended for Jarvis Landry. Guy’s interception has to be one of the most bizarre plays of the year, and was also the first interception of his career.

https://twitter.com/FTBVids1/status/1188562515325669377

Ironically, these three turnovers happened on consecutive plays in the first quarter, which helped give the Pats a 17-0 lead.

Even though the Pats did emerge victorious, they need to work on their rushing defense, as Cleveland’s offensive line was able to effectively clear paths for Chubb to run through. If New England wants to make a deep run this year, they will need to shore up the line of scrimmage to prevent opponents from running through them, which could wear them down, and keep Tom Brady & the offense off the field for long periods of time.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. Another inconsistent performance by the offense

Through 8 weeks of the season, the story for the Patriots’ offense has been upheaval and inconsistency, and yesterday’s game was more of the same. The offensive line once again struggled to protect Tom Brady effectively, which can be linked to injuries at center, left tackle, and right guard. Brady was efficient when he needed to be, but he did appear to be jittery at times, which is understandable due to the pass rushers on the Browns’ defense. Yet again, Julian Edelman (8 catches for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns) and James White (4 catches for 75 yards) were Brady’s top targets, and came through when he needed them. Edelman was the only Pats’ receiver who appeared to consistently get separation, as evidenced by his two touchdowns in the red zone. White gained most of his yardage on a 59 yard screen pass that came on a crucial third down when Cleveland had cut the lead to 7 points. White’s long catch-and-run got the Pats into the red zone and set up Edelman’s second touchdown. In his debut for the Pats, Mohamed Sanu had 2 receptions for 23 yards, which is not surprising as he has only been with the team for 5 days.

Sony Michel had an efficient day of rushing, as he totaled 74 yards off of 21 carries. Michel was able to find holes to run through, and ran hard for first downs when necessary. Michel’s performance drew criticism from prominent ‘analyst’ Skip Bayless, a frequent critic of Bill Belichick, who opined that the Pats probably regretted picking Michel after seeing what his former teammate Nick Chubb did on the same day.

I really like Sony Michel. I love his former Georgia teammate Nick Chubb, who went 35th overall to Michel’s 31st overall. It’s looking like Belichick made a mistake.

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) October 27, 2019

People like Bayless are nothing more than talking heads who try to gain attention by saying controversial things, but all I have to say to him is that without Michel’s performance in the 2019 playoffs, there is no chance that the Pats win Super Bowl LIII.

I believe that the Pats’ offense will be fine over the next few weeks, as they’ll receive reinforcements with the return of Shaq Mason, N’Keal Harry, and Isaiah Wynn. According to NFL insiders, the front office is still looking to add playmakers, so there is always a chance that Belichick finds another offensive weapon before the trade deadline.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

 

Bonus:

1. Belichick gets to 300 wins

With the victory over Cleveland, Bill Belichick earned his 300th win as a head coach in the NFL. Ironically, he earned his first win when he brought his Browns to play the Pats in Foxborough back in 1991.

Here is a video of team owner Robert Kraft presenting Belichick with the game ball.

2. Color Rush strikes again!

Yesterday’s win also marked the Pats’ sixth win in their Color Rush uniforms, bringing their record to 6-0 in their mono-navy alternates. The Pats will break out this combo one more time this season when they face off against the Chiefs in Week 14.

3. Odell gives TB a gift

Leading up to the game, Odell Beckham Jr. promised to give Tom Brady a pair of Nike cleats made of goat hair, due to #12’s status as the GOAT. Beckham lived up to his word, as he presented Brady with the cleats after the game, which was a gesture that New England’s QB appreciated.

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 20/36 for 259 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 21 carries for 74 yards
  • Receiving: 8 receptions for 78 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Defensive: Jamie Collins Sr. – 13 tackles (including 1.5 sacks)

Browns

  • Passing: Baker Mayfield – 20/31 for 194 yards, 1 touchdown & 1 interception
  • Rushing: Nick Chubb – 20 carries for 131 yards
  • Receiving: Jarvis Landry – 5 receptions for 65 yards
  • Defensive: Joe Schobert – 11 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head down to Baltimore to take on the Ravens (5-2) and their dynamic young quarterback Lamar Jackson on Sunday Night Football.

The Pats’ Boogeymen haunt Darnold and shutout the Jets!

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There were many pundits who expected yesterday’s game between the Patriots and Jets (1-5) to be competitive, due to the Pats’ injuries on offense, and the return of Sam Darnold to the Jets’ lineup. However, a dominant performance on both sides of the ball enabled the Pats to cruise to a 33-0 victory and their fourth straight season sweep of New York. This win improved the Pats to 7-0 on the season, and keeps them atop the AFC through seven weeks.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Another defensive masterpiece!

The Pats’ defense was remarkable yet again, as they shut out the Jets on offense for the second time this season, and limited them to 154 yards of total offense. Following a dominant performance against the Cowboys that netted him the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week award, Sam Darnold was utterly neutralized by Bill Belichick’s defense, as he mustered only 86 passing yards, with a QBR of 0.7. Darnold’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Devin McCourty, and appeared to set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Pats used an effective pass rush to throw off Darnold’s timing and force turnovers. Darnold threw 4 interceptions and lost a fumble, en route to the worst performance of his professional career. Darnold’s frustration can be summed up by him mentioning how he was “seeing ghosts” on the field.

Demaryius Thomas was arguably the only efficient receiver for the Jets, as he managed to eclipse 40 yards, and drew several flags against J.C. Jackson, which enabled New York to extend multiple drives. Le’Veon Bell was effective on the ground, as he totaled 70 yards off of 15 carries, after being limited to 35 yards in Week 3’s matchup in Foxborough.

The Patriots’ defense has been the catalyst for the team’s unbeaten start to the season, and will need to continue to play at this level as the schedule begins to become more difficult.

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(Al Bello/Getty Images)

2. A good offensive rebound!

The Pats’ offense entered this matchup with several questions regarding their ability to overcome their perceived lack of depth at certain positions. Tom Brady and the offense opened the game with a drive that totaled nearly 9 minutes and culminated in a touchdown by Sony Michel. After a few weeks of uneven offensive performances, the Pats were able to sustain drives and move the ball against a physical Jets’ defense. The offensive line was much better at protecting Brady, as he wasn’t sacked, and was hit only 3 times. Due to injuries at fullback, Josh McDaniels enlisted several players to fill the void at the position, with linebacker Elandon Roberts being a notable example.

The Pats were able to spread the ball around, as Brady completed 31 passes to 9 different receivers, en route to 249 passing yards. Brady’s top weapons in this game were James White (7 receptions for 59 yards), Jakobi Meyers (5 receptions for 47 yards), and Julian Edelman (7 receptions for 47 yards), with Phillip Dorsett also pitching in with a 26-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Sony Michel didn’t have his best game of the season, but he was effective when the Pats needed him, as he was able to score 3 touchdowns (for the first time in his regular season career).

The Patriots’ offense wasn’t as effective in the second half, but another dominant performance by their defense gave them a high margin for error. The Pats should be encouraged by how they were able to push around a physical defense, but they will need to find more consistency as the season progresses. Luckily for the offense, they will likely get N’Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn back soon, and today’s trade for Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu should also give the passing game a boost.

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(Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 31/45 for 249 yards, 1 touchdown & 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel- 19 carries for 42 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Receiving: James White – 7 receptions for 59 yards
  • Defensive: Jonathan Jones – 6 tackles

Jets

  • Passing: Sam Darnold – 11/32 for 86 yards and 4 interceptions
  • Rushing: Le’Veon Bell – 15 carries for 70 yards
  • Receiving: Demaryius Thomas – 3 receptions for 42 yards
  • Defensive: Darryl Roberts – 8 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head back to Foxborough to face Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns (2-4) for a matchup that promises to test Bill Belichick’s defense, as they face off against an offense with weapons such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

Descending in MetLife: Will the Pats continue to neutralize New York?

On Monday, the Patriots make their annual trip to the Meadowlands to play their hated rival, the New York Jets (1-4) for the second time this season. The two teams squared off in Week 3, with the Pats easily winning by 16 points, but this week’s game could look drastically different, as both teams will be starting players that missed the matchup in September.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 7 contest.

1. Can the defense continue to dominate?

The Patriots have been able to overpower their opponents with surgical and physical defensive game plans, which have been mostly successful in neutralizing what opposing offenses do best. This week, they face off against an offense that shocked the league with their ability to dice up an usually competent Dallas defense. New York’s resurgence on offense can be attributed to the return of their starting quarterback Sam Darnold, who was sidelined due to a 4 week bout with mononucleosis. Darnold clearly ignited something in Adam Gase’s much maligned offense, as he combined with Robbie Anderson and Jamison Crowder to dissect Dallas’ secondary. It wouldn’t be overly surprising to see Stephon Gilmore matched up against Anderson once again, as he has had success covering him in recent years. Another Jets’ receiver that the Pats will likely pay attention to is Demaryius Thomas, who made headlines this week for complaining about how Bill Belichick and the Pats’ front office cut and re-signed him, before shipping him to New York (due to the failed Antonio Brown experiment). Thomas will likely be motivated to prove that New England made a mistake in trading him, so the Pats should be careful to not lose him in coverage.

In order to emerge victorious, I believe that the Pats will need to neutralize Le’Veon Bell once again, and force Darnold to beat them with his arm.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. What will the offense look like?

The Patriots’ offense has been decimated by injuries and turmoil over the last few weeks, which has limited their effectiveness in recent games. Unfortunately for Tom Brady, he will be without yet another weapon on Monday night, as Josh Gordon will be missing the game due to knee and ankle injuries. Gordon’s absence will likely result in increased snaps for Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, who were effective in small doses in Week 6 against the Giants. Phillip Dorsett has been able to practice all week after sitting out Week 6 due to a hamstring injury, and is likely to suit up on Monday, which will help take pressure off of Brady, and Julian Edelman.

The Pats’ offensive line has struggled in recent weeks, and Monday’s matchup with the Jets won’t be any easier for them, as New York will have C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams on the field (both defenders were not active in Week 3). Hopefully re-signing Ben Watson will give the Pats a slight improvement in blocking, and help Sony Michel find some lanes to run through.

Facing a defense coached by Gregg Williams is never easy, so the battered Patriots’ offense will need to be at their absolute best to leave MetLife Stadium with a win.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Josh Gordon (ankle/knee) – Out
  • Ryan Izzo (concussion) – Out
  • Matt LaCosse (knee) – Out
  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Questionable
  • Patrick Chung (heel/chest) – Questionable
  • Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (chest) – Questionable
  • Gunner Olszewski (hamstring) – Questionable

Jets

  • Albert McClellan (concussion) – Out
  • Henry Anderson (shoulder) – Doubtful
  • Kelvin Beachum (ankle) – Doubtful
  • Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle) – Doubtful
  • Christopher Herndon (hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Neville Hewitt (neck/knee) – Doubtful
  • Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) – Doubtful
  • Alex Lewis (neck) – Questionable
  • Nate Hairston (knee) – Questionable
  • Ryan Kalil (shoulder) – Questionable
  • C.J. Mosley (groin) – Questionable
  • Steve McLendon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Darryl Roberts (ankle) – Questionable
  • Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 13

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 7 games (apart from Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 6-8

Raiders at Packers: Packers

Rams at Falcons: Rams

49ers at Redskins: 49ers

Texans at Colts: Texans

Vikings at Lions: Vikings

Jaguars at Bengals: Jaguars

Cardinals at Giants: Giants

Dolphins at Bills: Bills

Chargers at Titans: Chargers

Ravens at Seahawks: Seahawks

Saints at Bears: Bears

Eagles at Cowboys: Cowboys

The Pats take away Danny’s Dimes en route to a win against the Giants!

TEAM

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2

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NYG 0 14 0 0 14

NE

7 14 0 14 35

Even though the Patriots were able to defeat the Giants (2-4) by 21 points, yesterday’s game was much tighter than the scoreboard may indicate. The 35-14 victory improved the Pats to 6-0 on the season, and has them on top of the AFC, as the conference’s only undefeated team.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 6 contest.

1. The Pats’ defense was great once again!

Facing a short-handed Giants offense definitely played into the Pats’ hands, as they were able to stifle New York for most of the game. Stephon Gilmore arguably had his most active game of the year, as Daniel Jones opted to target him 6 times, which resulted in only 1 completion for 8 yards. The other 5 passes turned out to be an interception by Gilmore, a deflected pass that was picked off by John Simon, and 3 incompletions. Duron Harmon caught the second of Jones’ three interceptions, after an effective pass rush by Danny Shelton forced an errant throw. The Pats were able to confuse Jones with their coverage, and they sacked him 1 time, along with 8 QB hits. Jones is known for being mobile, but he was limited to 8 rushing yards off of 2 carries. However, the Pats were beaten by Jones on one play, when he lofted a perfect ball to Golden Tate that resulted in a 64-yard touchdown (and the first passing touchdown for a Pats’ opponent all year). Obviously, Bill Belichick won’t be happy seeing that play on film, but there was nothing that Jonathan Jones could do on that play, as Daniel Jones beat his perfect coverage with perfect ball placement. 

The Pats’ vaunted ‘Boogeymen’ linebackers struck again yesterday, as Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy combined for a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown. This score was initially ruled out of bounds, but overturned after the referees took a second look at it. Van Noy’s touchdown came at a crucial point in the game when the Pats were only up by a touchdown, and ensured that New York wouldn’t be able to mount a comeback.

The Pats’ defense continues to play at a high level, and will need to be at their absolute best as the schedule ahead begins to get more difficult.

pats d v giants w619.jpg
(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Another inconsistent outing for the offense

The Pats’ offense once again looked anemic for most of yesterday’s game, as it took them six drives to score a touchdown. In addition, Tom Brady had 2 uncharacteristic turnovers, with his first one being an errant throw that missed a wide-open Julian Edelman and was caught by Giants’ CB Janoris Jenkins, and the second one being a strip sack that was caused by Brady holding the ball for far too much time. That strip sack resulted in a Giants touchdown (which tied the game at 14 apiece), but was almost far more costly for the Pats’ offense, as Josh Gordon’s knee bent awkwardly when he went to tackle Markus Golden. Fortunately for New England, Gordon avoided a serious injury (although he didn’t return to the game), but the injury scare only seems to highlight the sudden need for another dynamic target at wide receiver. Edelman was his normal self yesterday, as he had 9 receptions for 113 yards, with his main highlight being a marvelous 36-yard catch, where #11 dove to get the ball. In the words of Rob Gronkowski: The furry Edelman fought to get his nut once again! 

Due to Gordon’s absence, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski were thrust into the limelight, and performed adequately when called upon. After the game, both Belichick and Brady mentioned that the sudden lack of players at wide receiver forced the Pats to stick with one personnel grouping throughout the game. It was another subpar outing for the Pats’ rushing attack, as Sony Michel only mustered 86 yards off of 22 carries, with a good chunk of it coming from a 26-yard run during garbage time. It’s hard to deny that New England’s most successful running back last night was a player by the name of Tom Brady who had 7 carries for 6 yards, along with 2 touchdowns, which both came off of QB sneaks at the goal-line. 

As I mentioned in my preview for this game, any sort of success for the Patriots’ offense would be predicated on the success of the offensive line to protect Brady and help out Michel. Unfortunately, the offensive line was not at its best yesterday, as Brady was sacked 3 times, and was hit an additional 6 times. Throughout the game, he did not have enough time to effectively survey the field, which killed a few drives in the process. 

All in all, the Patriots need to find an answer on offense, as riding the coattails of their defense and special teams will not be a recipe for success during the tail end of their schedule.

jules catch v nyg w619.jpg
(Elise Amendola/AP)

3. Yet another mixed bag for special teams

One of the major talking points entering yesterday’s game was the potential impact of the gusting winds in Foxborough, and the wind did not disappoint! On a number of drives in Giants’ territory, Bill Belichick opted to go for it on fourth down, instead of attempting field goals, due to the obstacle presented by the wind in the stadium. Mike Nugent missed a 40-yard field goal which hit the upright, but was able to convert on 5 extra points.

Special teams was responsible for the Pats’ first touchdown of the game, as a punt by Riley Dixon in the first quarter bounced off of his teammate’s helmet, and landed in the hands of Chase Winovich, who proceeded to run into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

Hopefully Nugent will be able to rebound over the next few weeks, and having touchdowns via special teams will continue to help the Pats win games!

wino td v giants s619.jpg
(Elise Amendola/AP)

Bonus:

1. TB12 passes Peyton Manning for the second-most passing yards in NFL history!

Here’s the pass that broke the record:

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1182455343466602499

Here’s the team congratulating him in the locker room after the game:

2. Gronk makes his Fox Sports debut!

Yesterday’s game also marked Rob Gronkowski’s debut as a member of the Fox Sports, which featured some classic Gronk moments, such as this breakdown of Julian Edelman and Tom Brady.

3. Color Rush!

It’s always a sight to behold when the Pats wear their Color Rush uniforms, and last night’s victory improved them to 5-0 in their alternates.

tb cr w619.png
(Photo via Getty Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 31/41 for 334 yards and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 22 carries for 86 yards
  • Passing: Julian Edelman – 9 receptions for 113 yards
  • Defensive: Jason McCourty & Jonathan Jones – 4 tackles each

Giants

  • Passing: Daniel Jones – 15/31 for 161 yards, 1 touchdown & 3 interceptions
  • Rushing: Jonathan Hilliman – 11 carries for 38 yards
  • Receiving: Golden Tate – 6 receptions for 102 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: David Mayo – 13 tackles (including 0.5 sacks)

 

What’s next?: The Pats head over to Metlife Stadium to play New York’s other team, the Jets (0-4), for the second time this season, under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Unlike Week 3’s matchup, Sam Darnold will likely be playing for New York. 

 

Giant Encounter: Will the Pats vanquish their old nemesis on TNF?

Over the past decade, the matchups between the Patriots and Giants (2-3) have been must-watch football, due to the intensity at which these games have been played. Despite the dominance of the Pats during the Brady-Belichick era, the Giants have constantly been a thorn in their side, as evidenced by their ability to knock off New England in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI. Thankfully for Patriots’ fans, their eternal tormenter Eli Manning will not be starting for the Giants, as his ineffective start to the season paved the way for rookie phenom Daniel Jones to take over the starting job.

Here are some things to consider entering this matchup on Thursday Night Football.

1. Can TB and the offense maintain their momentum?

 The Patriots’ offense rebounded spectacularly against the hapless Redskins defense in Week 5, with Sony Michel and the revitalized rushing attack fueling a second half explosion that put the game away. Tom Brady and the offense should have another successful outing against a struggling Giants’ defense that gave up almost 500 yards of total offense to the Vikings in Week 5.

I think that the key to victory for the Pats will be to establish the rushing game, which will allow their banged up receiving corps to get some rest throughout the game . In addition, with the forecast calling for rain and wind in Foxborough, rushing the ball with ferocious intent may allow the Pats to wear down New York’s defense.

As always, any sort of offensive success will be predicated on the offensive line’s ability to protect Brady and provide ample running room for Michel.

flash v nyg w6p19.jpg
(Photo via NESN)

2. Are all the signs pointing towards another defensive masterpiece?

Although Daniel Jones has had a good start to his NFL career, he faces a tall task against the Pats’ defense, which leads the NFL in several categories. Even more concerning for Jones is the fact that he will be missing several of his key position players, including Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.

Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo may opt to dial up the pressure on Jones, who has been sloppy with the football at times. Having an effective pass rush, coupled with a wet environment, could lead to fumbles if the Patriots are aggressive enough.

If the Patriots continue to play their brand of defense, they should be able to shut down New York’s offense.

daniel jones v pats w6p19.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) – Out
  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Out
  • Shilique Calhoun (ankle) – Questionable
  • Patrick Chung (heel) – Questionable
  • Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (chest) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (knee) – Questionable

Giants

  • Saquon Barkley (ankle) – Out
  • Wayne Gallman (concussion) – Out
  • Sterling Shepard (concussion) – Out
  • Evan Engram (knee) – Out
  • Lorenzo Carter (neck) – Questionable

 

Bonus:

1. Can TB12 knock off Peyton Manning?

As of right now, Tom Brady has 71,923 career passing yards, which is the third-most by any quarterback. Brady needs a mere 18 yards to pass Peyton Manning (71,940 yards) and move into second place behind Drew Brees, who has 78,845 yards.

tb passing yards w6.jpg
(David Tulis/UPI)

2. Color Rush!

Tonight’s game is the first of three games where the Pats will be wearing their fabulous Color Rush uniforms. Hopefully, they’ll be able to improve to 5-0 while wearing their alternates.

jules color rush .jpg
(Photo via NESN)

 

Prediction: Patriots 31, Giants 13

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 6 contests

Last week: 7-7

Panthers vs Buccaneers: Panthers

Redskins at Dolphins: Redskins

Saints at Jaguars: Jaguars

Bengals at Ravens: Ravens

Seahawks at Browns: Seahawks

Eagles at Vikings: Eagles

Texans at Chiefs: Chiefs

Falcons at Cardinals: Falcons

49ers at Rams: Rams

Titans at Broncos: Titans

Cowboys at Jets: Cowboys

Steelers at Chargers: Chargers

Lions at Packers: Packers

The Patriots overcome a sluggish start to crush the Redskins!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

WAS 7 0 0 0 7

NE

6 6 14 7 33

Early on in today’s game against the Washington Redskins (0-5), the Patriots found themselves behind 7-0, which was the first time they trailed in a game so far this season. The Pats responded by scoring 33 unanswered points, en route to a 33-7 victory which improved them to 5-0 on the season.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 5 victory.

1. The defense continues to dominate!

On Washington’s second drive, Steven Sims outran most of the Patriots’ defense on his way to a 65-yard touchdown which gave the Redskins their only lead of the game. Following that play, the Patriots were able to completely neutralize Washington’s offense, as they held Colt McCoy to 119 passing yards, and forced 2 turnovers (1 interception and 1 fumble). Other than Sims’ big run, the Redskins were held to 80 rushing yards, with Wendell Smallwood accounting for the brunt of it. The Pats were able to make McCoy uncomfortable all game long, as they sacked him 6 times, and also accumulated 8 QB hits.

Although the Redskins were definitely an inferior opponent, the dominance of the Patriots’ defense cannot be questioned, as they once again held an opponent to single digits, and gave up only 220 total yards of offense.

pats secondary v redskins w519.jpg
(Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

2. Great rebound by the offense!

The Patriots’ offense was sluggish in the first half, as they were held to 9 points, with several of their drives ending with punts due to the inability of the offensive line to protect Tom Brady, who was sacked 4 times and hit an additional 9 times. As the second half started, Brady and the offense were able to dissect Washington’s defense with ease, and he ultimately finished with 348 passing yards, to go along with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Julian Edelman (8 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown) and Josh Gordon (5 receptions for 59 yards) were Brady’s top targets throughout today’s game. Unfortunately, the Pats lost Phillip Dorsett to a hamstring injury, which makes it interesting to see if Bill Belichick and the front office will consider adding another receiver to an increasingly thinning receiving corps.

Even though Brady and the passing game were remarkable, the most encouraging aspect of today’s victory was Sony Michel finally having his breakout game. Michel finished with 16 carries for 91 rushing yards and a touchdown, and was helped out by rookie fullback Jakob Johnson, who was able to effectively clear lanes for him. Michel had been struggling prior to today’s game, so any sort of success should hopefully give him confidence as the season moves along.

Even though the Redskins’ defense didn’t challenge the Patriots down the stretch, it was impressive to see the Pats overcome their anemic start and finally meet their potential on offense after two uneven performances.

jules v redskins w519.jpg
(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 28/42 for 348 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 16 carries for 91 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 8 receptions for 110 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Dont’a Hightower – 8 tackles (including 1.5 sacks)

Redskins

  • Passing: Colt McCoy – 18/27 for 119 yards and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Steven Sims – 1 carry for 65 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Terry McLaurin – 3 receptions for 51 yards
  • Defensive: Cole Holcomb – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats have a short week as they welcome Daniel Jones and the New York Giants (2-3) to Foxborough for a matchup on Thursday Night Football.

Capital Matchup: Will the Pats add to Washington’s misery?

Week 5 presents an unusual matchup for the Patriots, as they head down to Washington D.C. to play the winless Washington Redskins (0-4) for the first time in four years.

Here are some things to consider entering this game.

1. Will the defense continue to dominate?

The Patriots’ defense has been on a tear over the last four weeks, as they’ve only given up 13 points, and lead the NFL in both sacks and interceptions. Tomorrow’s game looks to be an easier assignment for the Pats, as Washington was inept on offense against a mediocre Giants defense during their Week 4 loss in the Meadowlands. In addition, head coach Jay Gruden has opted to go with Colt McCoy at quarterback (instead of Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins), who will be seeing his first action since breaking his leg last season. It’s reasonable to expect McCoy to have some rust, which could lead to turnovers as a result of errant throws. The Redskins will be playing without two of their top weapons in Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed, while their top receiver, Terry McLaurin is listed as questionable. Washington’s rushing attack is also banged up, as Derrius Guice is still recovering from a knee injury, which will likely thrust the ageless Adrian Peterson into the starting role once again.

The Pats will be without Patrick Chung in the secondary, but if they continue to play their brand of defense, it won’t be too hard for them to overwhelm Washington’s offense.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New England Patriots
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. Can the offense rebound from last week?

As most people know, last week featured an atrocious offensive performance for the Patriots, as they were neutralized by a physical Buffalo defense. Luckily for Tom Brady & Co., this week may serve as an antidote to help solve their problems, as Washington currently has one of the NFL’s worst defenses. The Redskins rank fifth-worst in yards allowed, second-worst in points allowed, and fourth-worst in stopping the run. These stats indicate that the Patriots should blowout Washington, but I believe that fortifying the offensive line will be the catalyst for any sort of success on offense. Having a strong offensive line will provide Brady with time to survey the field, and also enable Sony Michel to run the ball effectively.

The Patriots have dealt with a lot of upheaval on the offense over the last few weeks, but dominating a downtrodden team like the Redskins will prove to the rest of the league that they’re still capable of being an elite offensive unit.

jules vs redskins w5p19.jpg
(Photo via Getty Images)

3. What will the kicking game look like?

One of the major headlines for the team over the last week was Stephen Gostkowski being added to the injured reserve due to a season-ending hip injury. After working out a few kickers, the Patriots signed veteran Mike Nugent to the active roster, while also adding Younghoe Koo to the practice squad. The Pats have generally had consistency at this position over the last twenty years due to the presence of Gostkowski and his predecessor Adam Vinatieri, which makes an abrupt change alarming for fans. It will be interesting to see how much faith Bill Belichick and the coaching staff have in Nugent, due to the presence of Koo on the practice squad. In addition, if Nugent struggles, would the Pats opt to go for two after scoring touchdowns?

The loss of Stephen Gostkowski will make kicker a position to watch as the season goes along.

pats new kickers.jpeg
(Nick O’Malley/MassLive)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Out
  • Patrick Chung (heel) – Out
  • Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman – Questionable
  • Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) – Questionable

Redskins

  • Vernon Davis (concussion) – Out
  • Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring) – Out
  • Jordan Reed (concussion) – Out
  • Brandon Scherff (ankle) – Out
  • Case Keenum (foot) – Questionable
  • Terry McLaurin (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Josh Norman (knee) – Questionable
  • Chase Roullier (not listed) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 30, Redskins 13

Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 5 games (except for Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 8-6

Jets at Eagles: Eagles

Jaguars at Panthers: Jaguars

Vikings at Giants: Vikings

Falcons at Texans: Texans

Buccaneers at Saints: Saints

Bills at Titans: Titans

Cardinals at Bengals: Cardinals

Ravens at Steelers: Ravens

Bears at Raiders: Bears

Broncos at Chargers: Chargers

Packers at Cowboys: Cowboys

Colts at Chiefs: Chiefs

Browns at 49ers: Browns