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New England Patriots News 9-17, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
4 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

New England Patriots News 9-17, AFC East NotesSteve Balestrieri - PatsFans.com

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 9-17, and AFC East Notes for this week.

Good luck to former Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett, getting the start today for the Colts.

With many of the injured players not going to suit up today, it will be intriguing to see if TE Jacob Hollister sees some playing time. He has a good shot to be a game-day active and he was one of our favorites to watch during training camp.

The Patriots try to rebound today against the Saints in New Orleans. Since 2010, the two teams are the #1 and #2 scoring teams in the NFL. While everyone points to the 2009 game as a benchmark, remember this, that New Orleans team started 12-0. And other than the matchup of Tom Brady and Drew Brees, the teams are altogether different. That Patriot team was 2-6 on the road and this one comes in with an 8-0 road record from 2016.

Shorthanded Pats Minus Hightower/Amendola: The team will be going today without Dont’a Hightower and Danny Amendola, leaving them potentially thin on the edge where they were gashed a week ago and at wide receiver where there is a mini-epidemic right now. Amendola is also the team’s punt returner so who fills in that duty today? Possibly Pat Chung [as we’re writing this on Friday night] Unless they activate a WR from the PS. It probably will NOT be Phillip Dorsett. Stay tuned.

Harvey Langi Should See His First Action:
Immediately upon seeing that Hightower didn’t practice this week, (not a surprise and don’t expect him against Houston), we sensed he’d be out. But the team got a bit of welcome news in that rookie linebacker Harvey Langi was taken off of the injury report.

Harvey Langi, seen here breaking up a pass, should see his first action of the season. (SBalestrieri photo)

Langi should see his first action of the year and we’re excited to see what the rookie can bring to the table. The Patriots experimented this summer with moving him around and trying him in a variety of different roles to learn what he can and can’t-do. He spoke to the Patriots.com website and said he’s excited to get on the field this week.

“It’s a day-to-day thing for me,” Langi said. “Got to go out there and play wherever they tell me to play. If it’s [defensive] end, if it’s outside [linebacker], if it’s on kickoff, kickoff return… whatever it is. I’m wanting to help out the team and do whatever I can to do that, to bring some urgency to practices.”

Patriots Front Seven Isn’t the Big Issue It is Being Made Out to Be:
The sky is falling crowd is reaching epic proportions now after a bad performance in Week 1. Look there weren’t any positives there, they were gashed, and badly by the Chiefs and Alex Smith. But does that mean that this team going to be forced into shootouts every week?

Obviously, the fanbase thinks so… The Patriots website asked a poll question if fans were concerned with the defense. The results? A whopping 85 percent answered yes. Bill Belichick’s teams always play better defense as the season progresses.

Increased snaps for rookie Deatrich Wise and a better performance by Kyle Van Noy this week are needed for the Patriots. (SBalestrieri photo)

While we’re not trying to discount what happened last week, the lack of faith in Belichick is always a thing in this town. At the first sight of trouble, there seems to be a lot of broken legs from people jumping off the bandwagon. This will get figured out, it always does. They’re still mixing with different combinations up front until they find one that works. But Alan Branch, who didn’t play well last week, is just getting into playing shape and now they’ll have to work thru missing Hightower and Shea McClellin.  It is a process and there is no one better than Belichick at figuring it out.

Let’s just say, this week, I’m looking for more of the Big Nickel on defense with Chung as the safety/linebacker and less of the dime look with four safeties and Jordan Richards in that role.

With Three Healthy WRs, Expect More RB Involvement in the Passing Game:
Much has been written about who will play the slot since Amendola will miss this week’s game. Again, don’t look to Dorsett, he’s an outside receiver in either the “X” or the “Y” mode. I’d look for Hogan to pick up the slack this week, with Cooks and Dorsett out wide. I’d also look for plenty of the “21” or “22” personnel packages.

The “21” package has two running backs, one tight end, and two wide receivers. The “22” has two running backs, two tight ends, and one wide receiver.

Look for James White and the Patriots running backs to be more involved in the passing game this week. (SBalestrieri photo)

They definitely have to get the backs much more involved in the passing game than a week ago. With James White, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis, they have plenty of weapons that they can utilize in the passing game. With only four receptions for 38 yards in the opener, that is far below what we envisioned.

Who Do You Like This Week? NFL Schedule Week 2:

Last week wasn’t great with a 9-6 record as the Dolphins game was postponed. This week started off well with the Texans win over Cincy. here’s the rest of the schedule for Week 2 in the NFL.

Browns at Ravens – Baltimore
Bears at Buccaneers – Tampa Bay
Vikings at Steelers – Pittsburgh
Patriots at Saints – New England
Eagles at Chiefs – Kansas City
Titans at Jaguars- Tennessee
Cardinals at Colts – Arizona
Bills at Panthers- Carolina
Jets at Raiders – Oakland
Dolphins at Chargers – Miami
49ers at Seahawks – Seattle
Redskins at Rams – Los Angeles
Cowboys at Broncos – Denver
Packers at Falcons – Atlanta
Lions at Giants – New York

Early pick for Thursday Night Football, (Rams over the 49ers).

Eastbound and Down, AFC East Notes:

Bills McDermott Returns to Carolina, in Big Early Season Matchup:

The Buffalo Bills go on their first road trip of the season and new coach Sean McDermott is returning to very familiar surroundings in Carolina. Having coached there, he knows the tendencies of the offense as well as their strengths and weaknesses as well as anyone. He also knows their defense as well and can game plan for their weaknesses. It should prove to be an interesting matchup.

The Bills nation was in total celebratory mode last week because at least for one week Buffalo sat alone atop the AFC East standings. And despite Cam Newton not playing especially well last week, the Panthers are at home and have a very good defense.

The feeling here? McDermott has the intel on his former team but not the horses to pull off the upset. I like Carolina to hold serve at home this week and Super Bowl reservations from Western New York get canceled.

Facing Cutler and the Dolphins, “No Problem” Says Chargers’ Ingram:

The Dolphins haven’t played a game yet this season, as their game was postponed last week due to the hurricane blasting South Florida. They flew out to California early as a result and have gotten extra practice time to prepare for the Chargers. But the Bolts, now in LA playing in a 30,000 seat stadium have had a short week to prepare for Miami and new QB Jay Cutler, having played on Monday night. What problems will Cutler bring to the Bolts defense, DE Melvin Ingram was asked?

“None,” Ingram said. “We don’t see him as a problem for us.” There are bulletin board material posts and then there is just utter stupidity. This falls as part of the latter. Why give the Dolphins any extra incentive. This is a team that is itching to get on the field after the awful events of last week in Florida and Ingram and the Bolts, coming off of a short week and the wrong end of a 24-21 score in Denver, have little room to talk.

The Bolts defense gave up 24 points to Trevor Siemian so they’re hardly in a position to talk a lot of smack. Advantage Dolphins. We had already picked Miami to win this game, I think you can add a little extra cushion in this one now.

Talent Starved Jets Offense Takes on Oakland :

The New York Jets gutted the roster earlier this spring and several of their high priced players on both sides of the ball are now gone. But nowhere it is more obvious than the offensive side of the ball. The Jets have a dearth of playmakers on offense as they doing a complete overhaul of the roster.

And that begins at quarterback. The Jets have three QBs and none fit the mold as someone that they will build the roster around. So it leaves the 38-year old Josh McCown in familiar territory. He will be the placeholder with an inferior array of weapons around him until the team finds their franchise QB. But he’s always been a good soldier and will continue to be. His 2-14 record as a starter the past few seasons doesn’t describe his capabilities to lead. Is he an even upper tier QB? No, but he’s not horrible. He didn’t play badly last week, but facing a Buffalo team that is looking for an offensive identity is much different than facing an Oakland team that many have competing for the Super Bowl this season.

Look for the Jets to get smoked on Sunday and the inevitable finger pointing will begin. But not many QBs can win with the talent level that McCown has around him right now.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower James White Malcolm Butler Miami Dolphins New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady Trey Flowers


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