PatsFans.com Menu
PatsFans.com - The Hub For New England Patriots Fans
Search

New England Patriots > Patriots Blog

Players To Watch Patriots-Vikings Week 13

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
November 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm ET

Players To Watch Patriots-Vikings Week 13(PHOTO: Mark Konezny - USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Nov 30, 2018 01:00
🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Big Game For Both Teams

The New England Patriots return home after a few games on the road and the bye week to take on the Minnesota Vikings in a late afternoon game that will be televised by Fox.

This is a very big game for both teams this week. The Patriots traditionally try to turn things up a notch in December and get ready for a deep playoff push. They are currently the #2 seed and still have a shot at being the #1 with a first-round bye.

The Vikings are currently the #5 seed with a shot at still winning their division with the Bears although they trail by a game and half with still one against each other still in play.

So, from a Patriots perspective, here are our Players to Watch on Sunday:

Rex Burkhead:

The Patriots versatile but injury-prone running back returns this week and the feeling here is that he may be eased back into things slowly. With Sony Michel playing excellent football right now, there is no need for the Patriots to overwork Burkhead right off the bat, as he hasn’t played since the first half of the Lions game in Week 3.

But one area that the Patriots could use Burkhead and his versatility is in the red zone where they’ve been struggling (for them) this season. The Patriots sit at a 63 percent touchdown rate in the red zone which is 13th in the league. Not bad, but much lower than they always are. Burkhead could change that. James White is an excellent receiver but just so-so as a runner. Sony Michel is having an excellent season running the ball but has yet to be fully integrated into the passing game. The team is a bit one-dimensional with those players in the game.

Burkhead is more than capable of running the ball between the tackles and catching it out of the backfield. He’s also a very good blocker in pass protection. With him having a smaller workload in his first game back, we could still see Josh McDaniels having a plan to utilize him in the red zone.

Trey Flowers:

The Patriots best player on their front seven and arguably on their defense is going to be looked to provide a bulk of the Patriots pass rush this week. With the weapons that the Vikings have on their offense, it is imperative that the Patriots bring pressure on Kirk Cousins before his talented wide receivers (Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs) shake loose in the secondary.

The Patriots pass rush this year (and for several of the past years) has been largely stuck in neutral. It puts the secondary in the bad position of having to cover for too long. They have addressed the issue with multiple players but thus far it is still a problem.

We’ll look to see if they move Flowers around some and utilize him as an interior pass rusher to get more speed and athleticism on the field. But a lot of eyes will be on the Pats best DL. They will try to attack the right side of the Minnesota offensive line, that is where they’ve been having issues protecting Cousins.

Julien Edelman:

The Patriots slot receiver has been terrific in several of the latest games, he set the tone for the offense last week, getting a 36-yard catch and run on the Patriots first drive of the game. He’ll be going against  MacKensie Alexander this week. Alexander has been terrific over the last month +, allowing a QB rating of just 45 when opposing QBs have targeted him.

Edelman has always been the guy to do the dirty work underneath and frequently takes a terrific beating while doing so. Alexander is a great matchup for Edelman and we expect to see those two battling all day long.

With the excellent pass rush of the Vikings, Tom Brady will be looking to get the ball out quickly. And there is no one who has the chemistry with Brady better than Edelman. We look for him to be targeted early and often in this one.

Pat Chung:

The Pats box safety had an excellent bounce-back game against the Jets last week. This week, the stakes are higher and the opposition is much better. The Vikings are a difficult matchup team for the Patriots defense due to their running back, Dalvin Cook and their tight end Kyle Rudolph, two areas that the Pats have issues defending.

Chung is the team’s best tackler in the box and he’ll have to be strong in run support against Cook while being one of the defenders against Rudolph in the passing game.

One thing we may see more of this week is the Patriots “Big Nickel” look with safeties taking the place of LBs in coverage. We saw just a glimpse of it last week as the Pats broke in newly signed S Obi Melifonwu and with his size and athleticism, he should be a natural at that. That would allow Chung to play closer to the line of scrimmage in the box. It is a chess match every week.

Josh Gordon:

The Patriots big wide receiver has been slowly finding his way in New England, learning on the fly and while he may no longer be the athletic freak he was five years ago, he still has plenty of speed and with his size, opponents have to account for him on every play. With Xavier Rhodes banged up and questionable this week, Gordon may play a big role in the game plan.

But what is really exciting for Gordon is the motivation that comes with playing meaningful football games in December/January. That is a first for him and he told the media this week that he’s excited for it to happen.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s motivational for me and for everybody. I’ve never really got the opportunity before, considering the circumstances. So it’s great to have the opportunity now.”

Gordon told Mike Reiss of ESPN that, “I think there’s a lot more room to expand upon and potential to be reached. It just goes to how much work I put in, and let it manifest itself on the field,” he said. “The most I can do is just stay consistent with my work ethic and the rest will try to work itself out eventually.”

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.

Like this article?
Support Steve and buy him a coffee.

READ NEXT:
VIDEO: Seabass School Of German Returns As Patriots Learn New Phrases

About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2018 Patriots season Adam Thielen Bill Belichick Chris Hogan James White josh gordon Julian Edelman Kirk Cousins Kyle Rudolph Mackenzie Alexander Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots NFL Pat Chung Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rex Burkhead Rob Gronkowski Stefon Diggs Tom Brady Trey Flowers Xavier Rhodes

  • Comments are closed.

  • More Patriots News Headlines:

    Monday Afternoon Patriots Notebook 2/26: News and Notes

    Monday Afternoon Patriots Notebook 2/26: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
     The Patriots are obviously embarking on a new era following the departure this offseason of Bill Belichick, and the subsequent hiring of Jerod Mayo.  That…
    21 hours ago
    Patriots News 2-25, “The Dynasty” Left Much Out, Matthew Slater

    Patriots News 2-25, “The Dynasty” Left Much Out, Matthew Slater

    By: Steve Balestrieri
    “Matthew Slater deserves every accolade someone could receive. He added that Slater was the “best core special teams player in NFL history.”
    2 days ago
    Mayo Sets Groundwork, Offers More Transparency With New Staff

    Mayo Sets Groundwork, Offers More Transparency With New Staff

    By: Ian Logue
    With the Patriots turning the page in what is now a post-Bill Belichick era, one emphasis appears to be clear. It looks like there will…
    5 days ago
    Patriots Slater Calling It Quits After 16 Seasons

    Patriots Slater Calling It Quits After 16 Seasons

    By: Ian Logue
    There's no question that things will look different on the field for the New England Patriots in 2024, but there will be one notable absence…
    7 days ago
    Patriots News 2-18, The Draft, Free Agency, and “The Dynasty”

    Patriots News 2-18, The Draft, Free Agency, and “The Dynasty”

    By: Steve Balestrieri
    Maye has a prototypical build for a QB at 6’4, 229, possesses a cannon for an arm, and has above-average athleticism, 9 rushing TDs in…
    1 week ago

    Share via
    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap
    Search For Links: - CLOSE
    For searches with multiple players
    add commas (Ex: "Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty")