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.
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.
- 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
- 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