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New England Patriots News 10-11, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
October 11, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 10-11, AFC East Notes(PHOTO: Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-11 and AFC East notes this week. 

The Patriots begin the second quarter of the season tomorrow after the NFL foolishly forced the game between the Chiefs and Patriots to be played on Monday night, placing both teams at risk with the COVID-19 pandemic having hit both teams. 

Moving it back one day did nothing to alleviate the risk and if there wasn’t one, why were the Patriots forced to fly in two separate aircraft to the game, with one of them filled with players who had had, close contact with Cam Newton, after he tested positive on Friday. And on separate buses driving to the game. 

But the hypocrisy of the NFL, while still uttering the lie that “player safety” is paramount has been exposed to all who would only look at what they are spouting. While putting out memos threatening teams with fines and losses of draft picks for violating their protocol, they basically forced both the Chiefs and Patriots to do the same so that they had their prime-time matchup. 

The Patriots asked for a larger locker room space in the tiny Kansas City visitor’s space to …you know…social distance. The NFL denied the request. Player safety right?

Now, the Patriots and Broncos are moved to Monday night at 5:00 p.m. because in essence, according to Park Avenue logic, COVID-19 isn’t as contagious on Monday as it would be on Sunday…The Bills game against Tennessee has been moved to Tuesday even though the Titans haven’t had a practice (in the facility) in weeks.  

*** Look for our Razor’s Edge Key Matchups tomorrow. With all the uncertainty, we decided to wait to get a more accurate look at how the matchups play out.***

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Cam Newton: Can he or can’t he?…seems to be the question. Meaning can he play on Monday night or not? That is what everyone wants to know. IF…and it is a big if, he gets clearance from the league and remains (from what we’ve all been told) asymptomatic — because he will then be 10 days removed from his first positive, which was last Friday. After 10 days, the test results become obsolete according to the NFL’s protocols. Because although some people will continue to test positive for weeks after being infected, they are no longer infectious….supposedly. After 10 days, the NFL has deemed it safe for asymptomatic players to return. So barring any symptoms, it is “possible” he could return tomorrow night. 

Devin Asiasi: I know it sounds like a broken record but the offense and Josh McDaniels needs to get him more involved in the passing game. Although he played about 30 snaps against the Raiders, last week he played only eight. Nothing against Ryan Izzo, but he’s been far from what they need (especially in the passing game) at the position. And a couple of those bad overthrows on Monday night weren’t his fault. But he is what he is at this point, a good blocker and very limited in the passing game. If your top QB is missing, (more below), then perhaps it will help a young QB to have a better safety valve at his disposal. 

Did You Know?… On this day in 1970, (still my pick as the worst Patriots team ever) was routed by the Kansas City Chiefs 23-10, with the Pats scoring a TD in the waning moments making it appear (unsuccessfully) respectable. Pats quarterbacks Mike Taliferro and Joe Kapp threw more interceptions (6) than completed passes (5) going a combined 5-23 for 46 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions…Yuck

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. We recorded a podcast on Friday talking the Chiefs game, the COVID outbreak with the team, and briefly the Broncos. We also had the outstanding guest Evan Lazar. Check it out. 

Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Hoyer or Stidham Tomorrow Night? Go With the Youngster: 

Although the Patriots got the not-so-good news of Cam Newton testing positive last week and played (poorly at the QB position without him), tomorrow they may face the same scenario of who they should start.

Here I’m going with Stidham, although they may decide differently. 

Stidham has a much stronger arm and is more mobile than Hoyer. And other than his second interception that was badly overthrown, he appeared more accurate than Hoyer was, although that isn’t saying much at this point. 

With all things being equal, I’d rather have Stidham in there in a game the team has to win. Yes, although it is only Week 5, the Patriots are already two games behind Buffalo but does anyone expect Tennessee, who hasn’t been in their facility in two weeks to play well on Tuesday night? So, yes Monday’s game becomes a must-win affair. And with Newton and Gilmore in the lineup, I’d say they win it 9 times out of 10. 

Before Newton signed, we all kind of believed it was Stidham’s job to lose and that the team was going to evaluate his progression and potential to be the #1 starter. Then he hurt his hip early in training camp and Hoyer took over as the backup behind Newton. I’m not going to make the snap judgment that many made last week when coming in cold with no reps and playing poorly that he’s automatically a bust. Turn the clock back to about 20 years ago on Thanksgiving and a young QB making his first appearance looked pretty bad too. 

If Cam isn’t available, it is a good chance to see what Stidham has got, even though the team hasn’t practiced all week again…

Don’t Look Now But the Youth Movement Is Looking Good:

We were going to include this last week, but the COVID-19 stories were trumping everything else. Hardly a week where the Patriots lose a game where we’ll hear the cacophony of voices lament the “awful drafts” of the Patriots year in, year out as if by some magic they aren’t a shoo-in for about 12 wins a season and nine Super Bowl appearances in 20 years. And folks…it wasn’t all Tom Brady, yes you know who you are. 

Well, the last couple of drafts are part of the youth movement and are playing a big part in the team and bearing fruit. Nobody hits on every draft pick, least of all, Bill Belichick. It is a crapshoot, but always picking at the bottom of the round makes it more difficult. And they have had plenty, PLENTY of whiffs. But nobody is better at putting a roster together and having plenty of role players fulfill key roles in Super Bowl runs. 

In the 2018 draft, after a slow start to his career, Isaiah Wynn has begun to develop into a very solid left tackle. And in terms of games played, he’s actually still pretty much of a rookie. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Ryan Izzo are more depth pieces but each provides a large part of the snaps at their individual positions. Bentley in particular has had to step into a big, big role this year due to free agency losses and opt-outs. 

Without Sony Michel, there probably isn’t a 2018 Super Bowl, and most of the criticism leveled at him comes from where he was drafted rather than if he’s a good player or not. 

Last year there was a lot of noise coming from the anti-draft crowd concerning their crop of drafted players and the lack of production. Look at N’Keal Harry, Joejuan Williams, Chase Winovich, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Jarrett Stidham, Byron Cowart, and Jake Bailey now. Bailey and Winovich are both playing outstanding and have big roles. Harry, Williams, and Cowart are all playing valuable roles where their responsibilities are growing each week. That draft is all of a sudden looking a lot better.

It is early for the 2020 draft but it looks like Kyle Dugger is getting more and more work every week. We still haven’t seen much at all from Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Cash Maluia, tight ends Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene yet. Kicker Justin Rohrwasser is on the practice squad. But what a find 6th round draft pick Michael Onwenu has been, Justin Herron stepped in and played very well last week.

The youth movement is looking good, now we need to see more as they grow into their roles. 

NFL Schedule Week 5, 2020, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. 

Last Week:     10-5

Season Total: 46-16-1

Last Season:  162-93-1

Thursday Night Football : 

Tampa Bay over Chicago 0-1


Houston over Jacksonville
Baltimore over Cincinnati
Atlanta over Carolina
Kansas City over Las Vegas Raiders
Arizona over NY Jets
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia
LA Rams over Washington
SF 49ers over NY Giants
Indianapolis over Cleveland

Sunday Night Football:

Seattle over Minnesota

Monday Night Football:

New England over Denver

New Orleans over LA Chargers
Tuesday Night Football
Buffalo over Tennessee

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

The Arrow for the Bills’ Allen is Pointing Way Upward:

The Buffalo Bills young QB is playing lights out this season. He’s thrown for 1326 yards, is completing 71 percent of his passes, and has tossed 12 touchdowns against just one interception for a QB rating of 122.7. 

But still, he hears the naysayers and the common refrain from earlier in his career was that he “couldn’t hit water out of a boat.” That just isn’t true anymore. On his podcast earlier this week, Greg Cosell posted a stat that the naysayers should take a hard look at. In his last 15 games heading back to last year, Allen has thrown 35 TDs against 3 INTs. 

He’s had tremendous mentoring from OC Brian Daboll and QB Coach Ken Dorsey and he’s made improvements every year. He’s listened, learned from his mistakes, and has grown considerably. The addition of Stefon Diggs to the offense with John Brown has made the Bills a very, very good passing team. Allen is no longer around for the ride. He’s driving the train. 

Dolphins Need a Big Effort to Beat Healing Up 49ers:

The Miami Dolphins are off to a 1-3 start and have been competitive all season, but if they want to start making a move to truly improve, wins have to begin falling into place. The 49ers have had a rash of injuries but are starting to heal up, George Kittle returned last week, while Jimmy G. and running back Raheem Mostert have returned to practice and will probably play. 

The Dolphins need Byron Jones back and a much better game from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who despite passing for over 300 yards last week, was missing open receivers, and his accuracy was off. 

Expect a close game but a 49ers win…however, would I be shocked at a Dolphins victory today? Not at all. But a lot has to fall in their favor.

The Jets Have Darnold Out (injury), Flacco In:

The New York Jets are playing without QB Sam Darnold this week after he injured his throwing shoulder in their loss against the Broncos last Thursday night. 

Darnold is listed as “week-to-week” with his injury, but the rumblings from the NY press are already wondering if he’ll be with the team next year. That would be soooo like the J-E-T-S. 

Trading Darnold would be the height of folly after surrounding him with poor skill positions players and a porous offensive line…but we’ve seen this before. 


“Well, we have to make the decisions and I feel like I have to make decisions on what’s best for our football team. What’s best for our football team is the health and safety of our team. That’s our No. 1 priority. So, without that, we don’t have a team. We have to maintain the integrity of not only our football team but also the extended team – our families and the loved ones for every member of our team. That’s got to come first. I think everybody recognizes that feels the same way and we’ll have to work maybe a little bit harder to make up for some of the on-the-field practice time that we’ve missed this week, but we can’t compromise the health, safety, and well-being of our football team, including our staff. I don’t think that’s the answer, I don’t think that’s the way to go in the long term, and I think that’s going to be much more detrimental than a short-term adjustment that we have to make in order to maximize everyone’s health and safety. That’s our approach, that’s the way I look at it, and I know that’s the way Mr. [Robert] Kraft looks at it, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. We’ll put the team first and that’s our philosophy.”

Bill Belichick on being asked about if the Patriots are getting a fair shake from the league by playing on Monday and being locked out of the facility all week.


“So, how was your week?”

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


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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, 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)

Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Denver Broncos James White Julian Edelman Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rex Burkhead Stephon Gilmore

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