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.
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.
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
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: Patriots21, Ravens17
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 9 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Geronimo Allison (groin/hamstring) – Doubtful
Randall Cobb (hamstring) – Questionable
Nick Perry (ankle) – Questionable
Jermaine Whitehead (back) – Questionable
Prediction: Patriots34, Packers28
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 9 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)