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

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BAL 10 7 7 13 37

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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.

lamar jackson v pats w919.jpg
(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).

jules v ravens w919.jpg
(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

The Pats blow past the Packers on Sunday Night Football!

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GB 3 7 7 0 17

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7 10 0 14 31

The Patriots had a complete team effort last night, as they beat the Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) 31-17 to improve to 7-2 on the season. This performance by the Pats is heavily encouraging as they enter the second half of the season.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The offensive’s creativity led them to victory

The Patriots played last night without two of their most important offensive contributors in Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel, so Josh McDaniels had to be creative for the Patriots to have success against a tough Green Bay defense. The Patriots started out the game with a laser-quick pace as they went no-huddle on their opening drive which spanned 59 yards and resulted in a James White touchdown. Things looked dire in the second quarter when White went down with what appeared to be a knee injury, but the creativity of the Pats helped them weather through the rest of the half without their top running back. Similarly to last week’s win at Buffalo, the Pats used Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back, and Patterson did not disappoint, as he totaled 61 yards and 1 touchdown off of 11 carries. 

Tom Brady was not at his best for a majority of the game, but he did make throws when it counted. Brady finished yesterday’s game with 294 passing yards and 1 touchdown. A trick play in the fourth quarter helped the Pats gain a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, as Brady tossed the ball to Edelman, who proceeded to loft it to White, which resulted in a 37-yard catch and run that brought the ball into the red zone and eventually gave the Pats a 24-17 lead. Josh Gordon delivered the dagger with a 55 yard touchdown that capped off his best performance as a Patriot (5 receptions for 130 yards), even though he dealt with a dislocated finger. White (6 receptions for 72 yards) and Edelman (6 receptions for 71 yards) were also important cogs in the passing game.

Continuing to play like this will be huge for the Patriots as the season progresses.

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(Mathew J. Lee/ Boston Globe)

2. The defense came to play last night

The defense had arguably their best performance of the season last night as they held Aaron Rodgers and his offense to just 17 points. The Pats were able to get after Rodgers and keep him in the pocket, as they sacked him 1 time (to go along with 6 QB hits). Rodgers did not have one of his typically remarkable performances, as he did look confused/indecisive at times (due to the Pats’ pressure and coverage schemes), and he finished with 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. Other than an outstanding performance for receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Pats were mostly able to eliminate Green Bay’s weapons, as Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham were not very involved throughout the game. Stephon Gilmore had a great game matched up against Adams, as he only allowed 2 catches for 15 yards, which continued his great stretch of performances since the Pats’ Week 3 loss at Detroit.

The play of the game arguably came during the first play of the fourth quarter when the game was tied at 17 and it appeared as if Green Bay was going to take the lead. Lawrence Guy forced Aaron Jones to fumble and the Pats recovered, which resulted in them scoring a touchdown. On the next Green Bay drive, the Pats forced the Packers to turnover on downs, and essentially sealed the deal.

Giving up only 17 points to a potent offense and coming up clutch in the fourth quarter is huge for the Pats’ defense as they enter the latter half of the season.

aaron jones fumble.jpg
(Nancy Lane/ Boston Herald)

Statistical Leaders

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 22/35 for 294 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Cordarrelle Patterson – 11 carries for 61 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Josh Gordon – 5 catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 9 tackles

Packers

  • Passing: Aaron Rodgers – 24/43 for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Aaron Jones – 14 carries for 76 yards
  • Receiving: Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 3 catches for 101 yards
  • Defensive: Antonio Morrison – 8 tackles

Bonus: The Pats wore their gorgeous Color Rush alternates for the second and final time this season.

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(Charles Krupa/ AP)

What’s next?: The Pats head down to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans (3-4) in a rematch of last year’s divisional playoff game won by the Patriots. Tennessee features ex-Patriots such as Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, and Logan Ryan.

 

 

 

 

Battle of the 12’s!

This Sunday night will feature one of the premier matchups the NFL has to offer, as Tom Brady and the Patriots welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-3-1) to Foxborough. This will be only the second time Brady and Rodgers have faced off, with Rodgers emerging victorious in 2014.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 9 contest.

1. How will the offense rebound?

The Patriots may have won last week’s game at Buffalo, but Tom Brady and the offense were highly inefficient for the majority of the game, as they were constantly stopped on third down by the determined Buffalo defense (until a crucial drive in the fourth quarter). Unfortunately for the Pats, they will be facing a Green Bay defense that gave the high powered Los Angeles Rams all they could handle. The Pats will likely still be without Sony Michel, who is still nursing a knee injury he suffered a few weeks ago. Relying on the trio of James White, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon should give the Pats a good chance to succeed against a Packers secondary that recently traded away a talented defensive back in Haha Clinton-Dix. Rob Gronkowski has been hampered in recent games, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs against Green Bay.

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(Photo via Reuters)

2. Can the defense handle Aaron Rodgers?

As I’ve frequently mentioned in my last few posts, the Patriots defense has been heavily inconsistent throughout this season, as they’ve had both good and bad performances so far. Stopping Aaron Rodgers and his offense will not be an easy task for Bill Belichick’s defense, as his ability to throw the deep ball and extend plays outside of the pocket make him a threat to be reckoned with. On the bright side, the Pats may finally be able to have a good game against their opponent’s tight end, as they have been solid against Jimmy Graham in the past. To have a good chance of winning, the Patriots will need to be able to get after Rodgers (and contain him outside of the pocket) and shut down Green Bay’s rushing attack.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Injury Report

Patriots

  • Trent Brown (ankle) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cannon (concussion) – Questionable
  • Dont’a Hightower (knee) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (Ankle) – Questionable
  • Cordarrelle Patterson (neck) – Questionable
  • Shaq Mason (calf) – Out

Packers

  • Geronimo Allison (groin/hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Randall Cobb (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Nick Perry (ankle) – Questionable
  • Jermaine Whitehead (back) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 34, Packers 28

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

Last week: 12-2

Bears at Bills: Bears

Buccaneers at Panthers: Panthers

Chiefs at Browns: Chiefs

Jets at Dolphins: Dolphins

Steelers at Ravens: Ravens

Lions at Vikings: Vikings

Falcons at Redskins: Redskins

Texans at Broncos: Texans

Chargers at Seahawks: Chargers

Rams at Saints: Rams

Titans at Cowboys: Cowboys

 

The Pats outlast the high-octane Chiefs in Sunday Night thriller!

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KC 6 3 17 14 40

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10 14 3 16 43

What a game!

Last night’s Week 6 contest between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) definitely lived up to the hype, as the two teams flexed their offensive might in a game that had 83 combined points. The Pats eventually prevailed on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave them the 43-40 win. 

Here are some takeaways from last night’s game.

1. The Pats offense was sensational!

A mere three weeks after looking absolutely inept on the offensive side of the ball against the Detroit Lions during a Week 3 clunker, the Patriots went toe to toe with one of the NFL’s best offenses with Tom Brady and Sony Michel leading the way. Brady was pretty unflappable throughout the game, as he had 340 passing yards and 1 passing touchdown, along with a jaw-dropping 4 yard touchdown run (only 15 yards away from 1,000 career rushing yards!). Sony Michel continued his stretch of dominance as he gashed the porous Chiefs defense for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 24 carries. Michel demonstrated the quickness and agility he had at Georgia, as he was able to find his way through holes and pick up huge chunks of yardage. The Pats also enjoyed solid contributions from Julian Edelman ( 4 catches for 54 yards and 1 touchdown), Chris Hogan (4 catches for 78 yards), Josh Gordon ( 5 catches for 42 yards), and James White (6 rushes for 39 yards, and 5 catches for 53 yards). Rob Gronkowski was quiet for most of the game, but he came up clutch when the Patriots needed big plays to seal the deal. For instance, he had a huge 42-yard gain on the drive that increased their lead to 7 (which was aided by an impressive stiff arm!). On the game-winning drive, Gronk also had a 39 yard catch which put the Patriots in range to finish off the Chiefs. #87 finished with 3 catches for 97 yards).

More than anything, I would say that this game showed the mental toughness of the Patriots’ offense, as they were able to shake off losing their 15 point halftime lead, and miscues (such as Tom Brady’s fumble) and still have the ability to drive down the field at will. The Pats were able to win this game because their playmakers came up big when they were required to do so. 

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(Photo by Stephen Senne/AP)

2. The defense had its moments…

It’s hard to fault the Patriots’ defense for giving up 40 points, due to the explosiveness of their opponent, but the Pats were absolutely dissected by Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons.

The first half was very efficient for the Pats defense, as they were able to get after Mahomes, and force him into 2 interceptions. The pressure in his face also forced him to miss wide-open receivers on what would have been sure-fire touchdowns. Limiting the Chiefs to 9 points in the first half was definitely a victory for the Patriots.

The second half was a completely different story for Mahomes and his offense, as evidenced by their opening drive, when Kareem Hunt torched the secondary for a 67-yard touchdown. To be fair to the Patriots’ defense, the next two touchdowns they gave up were not completely on them. The first one was due to a Tom Brady fumble deep in Pats’ territory, while the second one was due to a brilliant kickoff return that set them up mere yards away from the end zone. At the same time, the Pats’ secondary (especially the McCourty twins) could not seem to stop the blazing fast Tyreek Hill who burned them for 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns. The secondary’s performance could be epitomized by Hill’s final touchdown, when he was open down the field and outran everyone in the secondary to tie the game at 40. Luckily enough for the Pats’ defense, the Pats’ offense had their back, as they used up the rest of the clock en route to a game-winning field goal.

The Pats defense should not be demoralized, but they can’t depend on the offense to score more than 40 points and bail them out every time they fail to stop their opponent. An example of this could be Super Bowl LII where both defenses struggled, with Philadelphia winning the game due to a strip-sack of Brady on what could have been a game-winning drive. 

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(Photo via SI)

3. Playoff implications?

It’s never too early to talk about playoff implications in the NFL…

With a win last night, the Chiefs would have given themselves a great opportunity to eventually seize home-field advantage in the AFC. due to victories over the Jaguars, Steelers and the Patriots. However, due to the fact that the Patriots won last night, they will gain a head-to-head edge over the Chiefs, which will definitely come in handy if the two teams finish with the same record. 

Regardless of who finishes with the better record, it would be very entertaining to see these teams battle once more in January.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 24/35 for 340 yards and 1 touchdown

Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns

Receiving: Rob Gronkowski – 3 catches for 97 yards

Defensive: Trey Flowers and Elandon Roberts with 7 tackles each

Chiefs

Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 23/36 for 352 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Kareem Hunt – 10 carries for 80 yards

Receiving: Tyreek Hill – 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns

Defensive: Anthony Hitchens – 14 tackles

 

What’s next: The Pats head to the Windy City to take on Khalil Mack and the fearsome Chicago Bears (3-2)

 

Showtime vs the GOAT!

On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots take on the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) in a contest that may help to determine the flow of the 2019 AFC Playoffs. Coming off of a dominant 2-game winning streak, the Patriots will have their hands full against second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons…

Here are some things to consider entering Sunday’s game.

1. More of the same?

The last two times the Patriots have faced the Chiefs in the regular season, it has been rather lopsided in favor of Kansas City, as Andy Reid’s team has outscored the Pats 83-44, which may not sound encouraging for most Pats fans. Both games (in 2014 & 2017, respectively) featured an absolutely porous New England defense, along with Tom Brady running for his life, due to the inability of the offensive line to protect him. Most analysts project this game to be a shootout (which doesn’t bode well for the Pats defense), but Brady should be much more well-protected, as his offensive line is now amongst the top ten offensive lines in the league.

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Gronk vs Kelce

Rob Gronkowski has been one of the most dominant tight ends in NFL history, ever since his entry to the league in 2010. Gronk’s position as the NFL’s top tight end has not really been questioned until now, as there are several analysts who now believe that Kansas City’s tight end, Travis Kelce, has surpassed Gronk. Reporters took advantage of this week’s matchup to question Gronk on his feelings about Kelce. Naturally, Gronk complimented Kelce’s ability as a pass-catcher and made a point of mentioning that this week’s game was between the Patriots and the Chiefs, not Gronk and Kelce. Putting my bias aside, I truly believe that Gronk is the superior tight end, as he is both a dynamic pass-catcher and a hell of a blocker for the running game. In comparison, Kelce is a great pass-catcher who benefits from having dynamic talents around him, and at the same time, he cannot block well at all.

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(Photo via NBC Sports)

3. Slowing down Mahomes & Co.

Patrick Mahomes has been seen as a legitimate MVP candidate due to his performance over the last 5 weeks, as he has thrown for over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mahomes has demonstrated an ability to get away from pressure and dissect defenses down the field with his impressive throwing arm. Unfortunately for the Pats, they’ll also have to deal with running back Kareem Hunt, who had his coming out party against them in last year’s opener, with over 250 total yards from scrimmage. Add in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to the mix, and it’s going to be hard for the Patriots to shut down all of Kansas City’s weapons. Luckily enough for Bill Belichick, he and his staff have had over 10 days to prepare for the Chiefs, so expect the Pats to have some tricks up their sleeves.

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(Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

4. Can the Brady Bunch keep pace with KC?

Last week’s game against the Colts was a good omen for the Pats offense, as they welcomed back Julian Edelman back from suspension, and received valuable contributions from other playmakers including Josh Gordon, Sony Michel, and James White. At the same time, the offense was slightly sloppy in the second half, which made the game too close for comfort. The Pats will need to be on their A-game on Sunday if they hope to keep up with Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Pats should be in for a shootout, as Kansas City’s defense currently ranks as the NFL’s worst defense in terms of yards allowed and they may be playing without two of their most important defenders in Eric Berry and Justin Houston, respectively. If the Pats can play at their highest potential, they will have a good chance of knocking off the undefeated Chiefs.

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(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

Injury Report

Patriots

  • Malcom Brown (knee) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
  • Chris Hogan (thigh) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
  • Danny Shelton (elbow) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable

Chiefs

  • Eric Berry (heel) – Doubtful
  • Justin Houston (hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) – Questionable
  • Eric Murray (ankle) – Out
  • De’Anthony Thomas (tibia) – Out

Prediction: Patriots 37, Chiefs 31

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

Last week: 8-6

Buccaneers at Falcons: Falcons

Panthers at Redskins: Panthers

Seahawks at Raiders: Seahawks

Colts at Jets: Colts

Cardinals at Vikings: Vikings

Steelers at Bengals: Bengals

Chargers at Browns: Chargers

Bills at Texans: Texans

Bears at Dolphins: Bears

Rams at Broncos: Rams

Ravens at Titans: Ravens

Jaguars at Cowboys: Jaguars

49ers at Packers: Packers

Shocker in the Motor City!

 

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DET 3 10 7 6 26

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0 3 7 0 10

Yesterday was one of the most bizarre NFL Sundays in recent memory, as several high-profile teams including the Vikings, Packers, and Jaguars succumbed to substantially weaker opponents. Unfortunately, our very own Patriots suffered the same fate, as they played atrociously in a 26-10 loss to the previously winless Lions.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s loss.

1. Tom Brady looked human 

Tom Brady was not his usual self last night, as he only threw for 133 yards (which was his lowest since a 2014 contest against the Bills, in which he only played the first half), and a touchdown, to go along with one interception. It’s possible to attribute his off-night to Detroit coach Matt Patricia’s familiarity with the Pats’ offense, and the inability of his receivers to get open, but Brady still wasn’t very efficient when he had opportunities. For example, with the Pats trailing by 13 with more than 7 minutes remaining in the game, Brady unnecessarily heaved a deep pass down the middle, which resulted in an interception by Detroit’s Darius Slay and ended the Patriots’ chances at a comeback. This was reminiscent of the ending of last week’s game against the Jaguars, when Brady fumbled late in the fourth quarter, which sealed the deal for Jacksonville. To be successful as the season progresses, the Patriots will need Brady to step up his game.

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

2. The offense needs help

As mentioned earlier, the Patriots’ wide receivers, along with Rob Gronkowski struggled mightily against the Lions’ defense, which was a surprise for me to see, as I thought that they would have success against Detroit’s defenders (as mentioned in my preview for the game). For opposing defenses, the game plan to counter the Patriots has become quite simple, because all they need to do is double Gronk, and they’ll probably experience varying levels of success. The Patriots’ stable of running backs was not very efficient either, with Sony Michel serving as the feature back and James White & Rex Burkhead contributing as well. White easily had the best performance of the three, as he had the team’s sole touchdown. The Pats will need to be cautious with Burkhead as the season progresses, as he suffered a neck injury just 2 weeks after suffering a concussion.

Josh Gordon’s debut as a Patriot and Julian Edelman’s return from suspension cannot come soon enough. 

gronk v lions
(Photo via AP)

3. The defense looked slow

The Pats’ defense continued their downward spiral against the Lions, as they could not stop either Matthew Stafford or Kerryon Johnson (who became the first Lion to rush for over a 100 yards since 2013). The pass rush was non-existent for the entirety of the game, which gave Stafford time to dissect the secondary. It was also extremely disturbing to see the utter lack of lateral speed for the Patriots’ defense, as key players such as Dont’a Hightower seemed to just be a step behind as they chased after the explosive Lions. It may be easy to dismiss this game as your typical Patriots September, but if the defense continues to play like this, the Patriots won’t get far this season.

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(Photo via AP)

What’s nextThe Patriots host the division leading Miami Dolphins (3-0) in an absolute must-win.

 

Entering the Lion’s den!: Previewing the Pats’ Week 3 contest in Detroit

On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots head to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions and their former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. Both teams come off of disappointing losses in Week 2, and hope that a win tomorrow night can spur them in the right direction for the rest of the season.

Here are some things to look forward to during tomorrow’s contest.

1. Can the Pats’ defense rebound from last week?

Last week’s game in Jacksonville was not very successful for the Patriots’ defense, as they were absolutely inept against a very determined Jaguars offense. It was dispiriting to see the Jaguars advance down the field with absolute ease. Unfortunately for the Patriots, their Week 3 assignment will not be any easier, as they take on Matthew Stafford and the explosive Lions’ offense. The Lions offense has been a very inconsistent unit over the past 2 weeks, as they were decimated by the New York Jets in Week 1, during which Stafford threw 4 interceptions. Week 2 was a definite improvement for the Lions (even though they lost), as they nearly overcame a fourth quarter deficit to defeat Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. 

As mentioned by New England cornerback, Eric Rowe, the Lions feature the best wide receiver corps the Pats have faced all season, as they have Marvin Jones, and Golden Tate who are probably licking their chops at the prospect of facing a Pats’ secondary that got dissected last week. 

To have a chance at limiting the Lions’ high-powered offense, the Pats should take a look at what the Jets did in Week 1, as they were able to consistently get after Stafford and force him to make key mistakes. To do so, the Pats will need to have a consistent pass rush and a much better performance from their secondary.

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(Photo via USA TODAY)

McDaniels vs Patricia

The major schematic battle during tomorrow night’s game will be between former comrades, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels. As the two men worked closely for multiple years, they are most probably aware of each other’s preferences and weaknesses, which makes it interesting to wonder the ways in which both will exploit their knowledge of the other coach’s system. I also expect Patricia and McDaniels to tweak their game plans a fair amount in order to gain an edge. 

Switching the focus to the players on both teams, I think it’s fair to say that the Patriots offense should feel confident about their matchup against a short-handed Lions defense who may be playing without their best corner in Darius Slay. Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, and the rest of the Pats’ playmakers should play much better than last week, as they are not facing a suffocating defense. It’s a stretch to expect new addition Josh Gordon to have a big role in tomorrow’s game, but he has had great success against the Lions in the past, as he totaled over 130 yards against them in 2013.

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(Photo by Winslow Townson/AP)

3. Other notes

a) RKK aiming for 300th win

If the Patriots emerge victorious tomorrow, it will be their 300th win under the ownership of Robert Kraft. This would be a remarkable accomplishment for Mr. Kraft, as he has been instrumental in helping lead the Patriots from being a laughing stock to the class of the league with 5 Super Bowl championships after purchasing the team in 1994.

rkk
(Photo via SI)

b) TB12 hopes to remain perfect against Detroit

Last week’s loss in Jacksonville snapped Tom Brady’s perfect record against the Jaguars, but a win tomorrow will make him 5-0 against the Lions. Interestingly enough, Brady and the Pats’ offense have outscored the Lions 127-66 in 4 previous matchups.

tb vs lins 1.jpg
(Photo via AP)

PredictionPatriots 31, Lions 17

 

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 3 contests (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Saints at FalconsFalcons

Packers at RedskinsPackers

Colts at EaglesEagles

Bills at VikingsVikings

Raiders at DolphinsRaiders

Broncos at RavensRavens

Bengals at PanthersPanthers

Giants at TexansTexans

Titans at Jaguars: Jaguars

49ers at ChiefsChiefs

Chargers at RamsRams

Cowboys at Seahawks: Cowboys

Bears at CardinalsBears

Steelers at BuccaneersBuccaneers