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Patriots – Jets Week 7 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 18, 2019 at 7:03 am ET

The Patriots head out to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Patriots are off their fourth 6-0 start in their history and are on pace for a record league-low in points allowed. With a win, they’ll improve to 7-0 for only the third time in team history.

This week’s game will be broadcast by ESPN and can be seen locally on WCVB Channel 5 on Monday, October 21 at 8:20 p.m.. Joe Tessitore will handle play-by-play duties with Booger McFarland as the color analyst. Lisa Salters will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (6-0) beat the New York Giants 35-14 on Thursday Night Football where the STs and defense each scored in the victory. Tom Brady rushed for two touchdowns.

The Jets (1-4) came off of their bye week and beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22. Sam Darnold returned after missing the past three games and threw for 338 yards.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Jets have been rivals since the earliest days of the old AFL. The Patriots lead the all-time series 66-54-1 including a 36-25-1 record at home and 30-29 on the road against the Jets. The two teams have met three times in the postseason with the Patriots holding a 2-1 edge there. 

The Patriots have swept the season series the past three years. The Patriots beat the Jets 30-14 a month ago in Foxboro, but that was with 3rd string QB (since released) Luke Falk at quarterback.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York Jets

The Patriots running game remains an iffy proposition, last week against the Giants they struggled to run the ball, especially in short yardage situations. Sony Michel has been mostly ineffective, where the play of the offensive line and the tight ends hasn’t been good enough. But Michel has been a tad slow at hitting the holes. Brandon Bolden was brought in for some short yardage situations and Brady had two QB sneaks on the goal line scoring a pair of touchdowns. 

The Jets run defense has been solid but not great. They are allowing 95.8 yards per game which is 13th in the league. Last week they kept Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott mainly in check until the very late stages of the game. If they get MLB C.J. Mosley back this week it willl be a huge boost to both the run and pass defenses. Rookie Quinnen Williams is living up to his 1st-round draft pedigree and has been very good against the run.  Rookie UDFA Kyle Phillips has been a steal and was outstanding against Dallas.

With the addition of former Jets TE Eric Tomlinson, he should help somewhat in the blocking game, if he’s active on Monday night. If Rex Burkhead is ready to go, he’ll provide a boost to the running game as well. Look for Josh McDaniels to try to scheme up some running plays for the offense. Those outside zone runs aren’t working.  Look for some inside running plays to see if they can get some needed yardage and open up play action.                     

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game is dealing with injuries to Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett as well as Rex Burkhead have been missing time. Rex Burkhead has missed the past two games.also. That leaves them painfully thin. Julian Edelman has been dealing with sore ribs he got in the Jets game last month. The Patriots are hoping to get Dorsett and Burkhead back for Monday night. That will go a long way in helping the offense get untracked. And with Ben Watson back in the fold, the Patriots have a TE that can threaten the seams and help open things up underneath. 

The Jets have a very good front seven, and with Mosley they are even better. But although they have a pair of outstanding safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, their cornerbacks are a definite weakness. Former Patriot Darryl Roberts, Trumaine Johnson, and Brian Poole are the weak links of the Jets defense. They’ve allowed 262.0 yards per game, 21st in the league. Gregg Williams’ blitzing defense brings good pressure but they only have 7 sacks as a team. If the blitz is picked up then the corners won’t hold up.

Brady and the offense will have to attack the Jets’ pedestrian corners, notably Poole with Edelman in the slot. Edelman had seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown when he was injured in the second quarter of the game a month ago. Look for the Patriots to use the 2 RB set (James White, Rex Burkhead) in the passing game. With no Gordon, the backs will have to take up some of the slack. Ben Watson too.

Next up the Jets offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

It’s impossible to judge anything regarding the Jets offense from the first meeting when they were missing both Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian when they arrived in Foxboro. But the running game of the Jets has struggled to run all season, even when Darnold was in the lineup. Le’Veon Bell is averaging just 3 yards per carry. With Darnold back, the Jets passing game figures to be much better, but they also need the running game and Bell to keep the offense from being one-dimensional. The Jets offensive line also (like New England) needs to do a better job.

The Patriots run defense has been solid this season and is allowing just 73.7 yards per game, good for third best in the league. The average allowed per carry of 4.1 yards is misleading. The one 65-yard run by Frank Gore raised the average per game by 10 yards. Without that run, the average would be 62.8 yards per game and 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, and Adam Butler have been excellent at stopping the runs at the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up and make plays. 

Having Darnold back in the fold will definitely help as he’ll force the defense to play it straight up and not allowing opponents to stack the box. This matchup will go a long way in deciding this game. If the Jets become one-dimensional and constantly are in 3rd and long situations, the Patriots defense will make life tough for them to move and score points. Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins are key here for the Pats.  

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Jets finally got their passing game untracked on Sunday as Sam Darnold threw for 338 yards while completing 23-32 passes with two TDs and an interception. He has Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder in the slot and Demaryius Thomas at wide receiver. They’re hoping to get TE Chris Herndon back for this one which will definitely open things up for them down the seam. Bell is always a threat out of the backfield. 

The Patriots pass defense has been simply outstanding in 2019, allowing just 161.0 yards per game, good for #2 in the NFL. They’ve already intercepted 14 passes and made 25 sacks. They made 30 all of 2018 and have nearly matched that less than halfway into the season. The secondary has been like glue while the linebackers have been tremendous in helping with the pass rush. One of the most impressive things has been the communication, they way they pass off responsibilities when recognizing a blitzing opportunity. 

Anderson will be going against Stephon Gilmore who held him to just 3 catches for 11 yards in the last meeting. But Anderson lit up the Cowboys, including a 92-yard touchdown, so his confidence is high with his starting QB back. Crowder should be matched up with Jonathan Jones in the slot while Thomas will draw either Jason McCourty or J.C. Jackson. All three should be great matchups to monitor. 

In the first meeting, the Patriots got five sacks and with the Jets, they’ll be minus their starting LT Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell will be getting his first NFL start. Look for the Patriots to test him early in this one. With Darnold back, the Jets threw on first down more than ran (17-9) and he used play-action very effectively  Overall, on first down, he was 13-15 for 202 yards and a TD. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots Mike Nugent seems to have the coaches’ confidence, last week he doinked a kick off the upright but the high winds were a huge factor in the kicking game. Jake Bailey has come on extremely well and his strong leg has been on display numerous times already The return game has been so-so at best with Gunner Olszewski but the coverage units and punt blocking teams have been outstanding.

The Jets Sam Ficken has settled down the kicking game. Lachlan Edwards has done a solid job of punting, and the Jets coverage units have been solid. However, Braxton Berrios hasn’t provided much in the return game.  

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are looking for a sweep of the Jets and of their divisional opponents on the road enroute to a 7-0 start. The Jets started off nightmarishly but confidence is high in the Meadowlands as they get their injured players back and their schedule does get markedly lighter after this week. They feel like they can with a second upset in a row go on a winning streak. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Defense Sets the Tone – Look for the Patriots defense to remain aggressive and challenge the Jets receivers. The secondary is playing tremendous and they’ll try to show different looks in trying to get Darnold to make a mistake. The key for the Patriots defense is to take away Le’Veon Bell, in both the running and passing game. If they can neutralize him, they have the secondary players to match up well. 

The pass rush will be an area to watch. Darnold has the ability to move in the pocket and throw on the move, unlike the previous matchup. They’ll attempt to test Shell on the left side and they’ll show him different looks as well. 

Edelman and the Running Backs in the Passing Game: Tom Brady passed for 306 yards on 28 of 42 passing in the first matchup with two touchdowns. Julian Edelman was giving the Jets fits until he was injured. With C.J. Mosley stating he’ll play on Monday, that should help the middle of the field immensely. But Poole is at a disadvantage against Edelman, it will be interesting to see if they give him help. 

James White, who missed the first matchup due to the birth of his son and Burkhead, if he’s able to go will see lots of reps. Expect to see a lot of the two-back “Pony” set where Brady will move them around to create mismatches. It will also help in keeping the Jets from blitzing at times. 

Play-action will be key here. If they can freeze the Jets linebackers ever so slightly, it will open up things more for Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and TE Ben Watson.

Get the Running Game Going: Easier said than done. The Patriots running game has been stuck in neutral for much of this season. But they need to scheme some things up to get it going with Sony Michel and Burkhead with a bit of James White and Brandon Bolden mixed in. 

The Jets run defense is solid and they’ll need an A-game from the offensive line. Michel is the key to get everything else going. If they are constantly in 3rd and long, it will be a long evening for the offense. 

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This should be a typical Patriots-Jets game in the Meadowlands, with the game tight right down to the very end. Points will be at a premium here for both teams but in the end the Patriots should be able to pull away thanks to the defense generating a turnover or two. The last thing the coaches want is to see the Jets get off to another start like they had last week. They’ll want to come out strong.  Patriots 23-13

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour heads back home next Sunday with a 4:25 p.m. game against the Cleveland Browns.

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 and breakdown game analysis

 

Patriots Week 6 Report Card, 35-14  Win Over the Giants

Steve Balestrieri
October 14, 2019 at 7:37 am ET

 Patriots Improve to 6-0 but Got Banged Up On Thursday

Time to clean out the notebook from the Giants and begin to move on to Week 7.

The Patriots are 6-0 and remain with the impressive 49ers as the only undefeated teams in the NFL. The landscape changes so much from week to week that winning is far from guaranteed regardless of the competition.

The Patriots were favored by as much as 17 before the game and won by 21 but this game appeared to be anything other than a blowout until the final 8-9 minutes. Six different players were injured and five didn’t return, so the extra off time will prove to be a needed respite this week. 

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.

Quarterback: B-

Tom Brady had another interception in the first half where it seemed like either he and Julian Edelman were way off of the same page or the wind affected a deep pass where it was easily picked off by Janoris Jenkins. He also suffered a strip-sack that was returned for a touchdown.

But in the second half, at one point he completed 15 passes in a row and finished 31-41 for 334 yards with an interception. He also scored two touchdowns on quarterback sneaks. Considering that he was playing without Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett and had UDFA wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski as his #2-3 WRs, things weren’t as bad as some were painting the situation.

Running Backs: B-

The favorite whipping boy for much of the media and the fan base, Sony Michel was bottled up all night until his final run at the end of the game. He finished with 86 yards on 22 carries, a 3.9-yard average. But the blocking for him just wasn’t there at all. 

James White was stuffed on his two rushing attempts, while Brandon Bolden scored the game’s first touchdown and had 23 yards on three attempts. Brady scored on the other two touchdowns on the ground.

Overall, the Patriots ran for 114 yards on 34 carries [3.4-yard average] which isn’t good enough. And they lost another fullback Jakob Johnson who is going on IR. 

Wide Receivers: C+

Julian Edelman had his second 100-yard game in a row [9 catches 113 yards] and was his normal pain-in-the-backside self to the defense. With no Gordon or Dorsett, the Giants knew they had to stop him but couldn’t. He had two drops that hurt considering the circumstances. 

Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski both contributed with 4 catches for 54 yards and 2 catches for 34 yards respectively. Both are normally working more with the scout team than the offense in practice, so they get high marks for their night. But although the team got by on TNF with them as the #2-3 WRs, this isn’t sustainable. 

Josh Gordon had one catch before getting injured. James White had nine catches on nine targets but for only 46 yards. Michel and Bolden each chipped in with a pair of catches out of the backfield.

Tight Ends: C-

Matt LaCosse was hurt again and left the game in the first half. He has been largely MIA all season. Ryan Izzo gave up the edge on the strip-sack TD on Brady and has not been good on those outside zone runs where the team has been stuffed nearly every time this year [18 outside zone attempts, 21 rushing yards this season]. 

Izzo caught two passes for 31 yards including a 20-yarder where he was able to shake free when Brady had all day to throw. Due to LaCosse’s injury along with others, the team was forced to play in only “11 personnel” [1 RB, 1TE, 3 WRs] for the entire second half on Thursday.    

Offensive Line: B-

The offensive line, with the exception of the aforementioned Izzo sack and Marshall Newhouse, had a very solid night of pass protection. The Giants, and rightfully so, targeted Newhouse’s side for their pass rush and were successful. Newhouse has allowed too many sacks and the coaches are going to have to give him some help, especially with the blitz-happy Jets on-deck.

The run blocking remains very much hit or miss, they run well between the tackles but those outside zone runs and sweeps aren’t getting any traction. Short yardage runs are still a sore spot. 

 Defensive Line: B

The defensive line once again was very good. The Giants running game was predictably held in check with no Saquon Barkley with 52 yards on 16 attempts. Lawrence Guy was solid as always upfront and played more than everyone else as they rotated bodies on a short week. 

Deatrich Wise had two QB hits, but the Giants OL did a very good job of limiting pressure from the DL. Michael Bennett’s playing time continues to dwindle, he played in only 11 snaps late in the game and is now the subject of trade rumors, something to keep an eye on with the October 29th trade deadline upcoming.

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots linebackers didn’t dominate the way we’ve seen in the past few weeks, but they were still excellent although they lost Dont’a Hightower in this one. But Kyle Van Noy was the man once again for this unit. Van Noy had the team’s only sack, two QB hits, six hurries and scoop and recovery of a fumble that he returned for a touchdown that put the game away. 

Jamie Collins snuffed out the screen pass to Jon Hilliman and put a big hit on the back jarring the ball loose on the fumble, which Van Noy returned. Hightower, before being hurt had three tackles and a QB hit. 

Secondary: A-

The secondary continues to stick like glue to the opposition’s receivers. Stephon Gilmore continues his outstanding play and Daniel Jones would have been wise to avoid his side of the field. Gilmore was targeted six times and had an interception and five passes broken up. He had another pick right in his hands but couldn’t hold on. He also deflected another that was intercepted by John Simon.

Jonathan Jones battled Golden Tate in the slot all night and gave up the Patriots first touchdown receiving this year. But even on that play, he had tight coverage and got his hand on the ball. But it was a great throw by Jones and a super play by Tate who was able to corral it and haul it in. 

Jones completed less than 50 percent of his throws and had a passer rating of just 35.2 on the night while the defense intercepted him three times. Nuff said.

Special Teams: A-

Mike Nugent had a miss of a field goal that doinked off the upright but the replay clearly showed that holder Jake Bailey didn’t rotate the laces away, so we’ll cut him some slack there. Also, the extra points were all good this week…small steps.

Jake Bailey had to contend with the gusty wind and averaged only 40.7 yards on his punts. The Giants Riley Dixon, also with a strong leg averaged only 39.2 on the night. 

But the STs struck a big blow again when Mr. Do-Everything Brandon Bolden made a tremendous play, pushing Nate Stupar into the punter Dixon, causing the punt to carom off of his head. It was scooped up by Chase Winovich who scored his first NFL touchdown. 

Coaches: A-

The Patriots coaching staff made the adjustments they needed to make offensively, out of necessity on Thursday night when injuries forced Josh McDaniels to operate out of one personnel grouping for the entire second half. Brady mentioned after the game it was the first time he ever remembers the Patriots doing that in his 20 years here. 

Defensively they pushed all the right buttons and limited the Giants to just the one big scoring play and nothing else. They rolled their coverages and created mixed presures that kept the Giants off-balance.  

 

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.

 

Injury-Riddled Patriots Move to 6-0 With 35-14 Win Over Injury-Riddled Giants

Steve Balestrieri
October 11, 2019 at 7:13 am ET

Mini-Bye Week Comes a Great Time for NE

The Patriots are 6-0 and defeated the New York Giants 35-14 but this one went unlike most had envisioned on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. Most had this one as a blowout which the final score indicated but in reality, it was anything but. 

Ah, the joys of Thursday Night Football…

With solid play and timely stops by their defense, the Giants were very much alive in this game with about nine minutes to play, with the score just 21-14. Then the Patriots defense, which was outstanding again, turned the game into the Pats’ favor for good. Jamie Collins jarred the ball loose from running back Jonathan Hilliman, where Kyle Van Noy scooped the ball up and rolled for a touchdown. Game over, thanks for coming, drive safely down Route 1.

New England could breathe a sigh of relief as this one was effectively over. Tom Brady added a final touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak to finish off the scoring, his second rushing touchdown of the game to put a bow on it, making the score 35-14.

It was the Giants who entered this game beat up missing three of their top offensive players [Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram], but it was the Patriots who limped out of this one. New England entered the game missing two of its own offensive performers, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett and running back Rex Burkhead. But they then suffered a slew of injuries during the game.

Josh Gordon left after awkwardly twisting his ankle/knee and didn’t return. Fullback Jakob Johnson also left with an injury, as well as tight end Matt LaCosse who left early in this one. These losses would affect the way the offense was able to line up the rest of the game. With only one tight end and no fullback, the Patriots ran only 11 personnel grouping [3 WRs, 1TE, 1 RB] for nearly the entire second half. 

Gordon’s loss hit an already thin wide receiver position and forced undrafted rookie wide receivers, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, into prominent roles in the offense. 

On defense, Pat Chung, Dont’a Hightower, and J.C. Jackson left with injuries, although Jackson was able to return later. So, the mini-bye week with 10 days off before playing on Monday Night Football against the Jets, couldn’t come at a better time.

Other observations from tonight’s game include:

Defense Steps Up Again With Four More Turnovers:

The Patriots defense continues to play stellar team defense with great coverage in the secondary while generating turnovers. On a night where they generated just a single sack, the defense forced four turnovers with the aforementioned fumble and score by Van Noy and three interceptions by Duron Harmon, John Simon, and Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore almost had a fourth but dropped it when he jumped a route to Golden Tate on a third-down near midfield. 

The coverage was sticky all night long against a game but depleted Giants WR core. The defense did give up its first passing touchdown of the year, a 64-yard scoring pass from Daniel Jones to Tate, although Jonathan Jones had tight coverage and actually got his hand on the ball. But credit Tate with an outstanding play, he was able to keep his concentration and still able to haul it in for the score. 

But the defense limited the Giants to just 213 total yards [52 rushing, 161 passing] while being outstanding once again on third down, holding the G-men to just 2-10. 

You Think Bringing Back Brandon Bolden Was Worth It?

At the time Brandon Bolden was re-signed and brought back after a year with Miami, there were many who panned the signing,[including a hot-take dolt on the air] saying that Bill Belichick signs too many players with Special Teams talent only. As the Southwest Airlines commercial says, “Want to Get Away?” No, the return of Bolden has done nothing but pay dividends. 

Back in minicamp, I spoke with RB coach Ivan Fears prior to practice and asked him about bringing back the popular teammate inside the Patriots locker room. And what Fears said has rung true this season.  “No matter what we ask him to do, Brandon will do it, and do it well,” Fears said. 

In the last three games, Bolden has scored three touchdowns and figured prominently in a fourth. Bolden had a rushing touchdown against Buffalo, caught a 29-yard score from Brady against the Redskins and ran one in against the Giants in short-yardage tonight. But he caused the blocked punt in the first half which resulted in a Chase Winovich touchdown. 

Bolden rushed in on a punt block and drove Nate Stupar backward where Riley Dixon’s punt went off Stupar’s head. The ball bounced backward where Thor scooped and scored. This was all because of Bolden’s work while out on the field. 

Daniel Jones Can Sling It: 

What? you say, are you kidding? And a look at Jones’ numbers would seem to play that out. How so when he completed only 15 of 31 for 161 yards which was only good for 5.2 yards per pass and three interceptions?  

Granted Jones’ numbers weren’t good, nor his passer rating of 35.2, but his depleted receiving core was blanketed all night long and he frequently had nowhere to go with the football. 

But several of his throws, including the touchdown to Tate and another pass to Tate on a third-down slant were delivered in very tight windows, quickly and accurately. If you look past the boxscore and rewatch the tape, Jones did as well as could be expected given the circumstances.

The Giants, as we pointed out in our key matchups piece, would move Tate into the slot to take him away from Stephon Gilmore and have him battle Jonathan Jones. It was a good hard battle all night long.  

Jones had plenty of bad moments and plays to be sure, but he looks to be a good QB who was just placed in an unwinnable situation

Offense Needs Help But They Weren’t Quite As Bad As Believed:

  The Patriots struggled on offense for much of the night and had to claw and scratch for everything they got. The play of the offensive line continues to be suspect at times and they seem to be scuffling along in search of an identity. 

But at the end of the day, the generated 424 yards of offense and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes, which really tired out the Giants’ defense. 

Tom Brady struggled in the first half but ended up 31-41 for 334 yards. He scored on two short QB sneaks but threw a weird interception in the first half. While attempting a deep post to Julian Edelman, the ball was well behind Edelman where Janoris Jenkins picked it off. Was it miscommunication or the wind?  Edelman was outstanding with nine catches for 113 yards including a beautiful diving catch which set up Brady’s last TD dive. 

Sony Michel struggled for much of the night but ended up with 86 yards on 22 carries. The Patriots ground game, which struggled for much of the night ended up with 114 yards. But the offensive line and wide receivers need help. 

TE Ryan Izzo has really struggled with blocks to the edge which is supposed to be his strong suit. LaCosse can’t catch a break, or stay healthy, he’s hurt again. With the injuries to Dorsett and Gordon, an already hurting WR core was stretched mighty thin. Kudos to UDFA rookie wide receivers Meyers and Olszewski who both contributed in the passing game. Meyers had four catches for 54 yards including a nice 23-yarder where he high-pointed the ball and had the awareness to raise it over the defender to keep it from being knocked away. Olszewski chipped in with two catches for 34 yards. 

But within the next 10 days, they have some decisions to make. Even if Gordon and Dorsett are back, they should probably look at adding some help. One thing to keep in mind, 1st-round draft pick N’Keal Harry can begin practicing on Wednesday and return in another two weeks from then. 

And with LaCosse hurt again, it may be time to explore bringing in another tight end. The offense is getting by for now but with the meat of their schedule upcoming with Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cleveland, Houston. and Kansas CIty yet to come, they need to get the offense figured out. 

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Patriots – Giants Week 6 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 10, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

The Patriots return home on a short week to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. The team has the opportunity to begin the season 6-0 and will have 11 days off before facing the Jets next week on Monday Night Football.

This week’s game will be broadcast by Fox on Thursday, October 10 at 8:20 p.m. and can be seen locally on WFXT Fox  25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (5-0) beat the Washington Redskins 33-7 with the defense getting six sacks and an interception while Tom Brady threw for 348 yards and three TDs.

The Giants (2-3) lost to the Minnesota Vikings 28-10. Daniel Jones threw a beautiful 38-yard touchdown pass but missed too many open receivers. The Giants run defense was gashed on the day to the tune of 211 yards.  

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Giants have met 29 times in the preseason including 15 years in a row. But they are meeting for just the 11th time in the regular season. The Patriots lead the overall series 6-4, but the G-men can lay claim to two Super Bowl victories over Brady, Belichick and the Patriots after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.  

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Giants Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game finally showed some signs of getting itself untracked against an albeit awful Redskins run defense which entered the game allowing 147.5 yards per game. Sony Michel churned out 91 yards, most of which in the second half as the run blocking got much better after halftime.

The Giants got chewed up last week and are allowing an average of 130 yards per game. The big men up front led by rookie Dexter Lawrence are playing well, but they were victimized by zone running plays that tested their speed and athleticism. They should get linebackers Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis back this week, which should help the run defense. 

With the quick week coupled with the travel, and the weather where it is expected to have heavy rains and winds over 20 mph, the Patriots may opt to further wear down a run defense that took a beating on Sunday. Look for plenty of Michel and Rex Burkhead, if he’s able to go tonight.           

Patriots WRs vs Giants Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game ended up having a very solid Sunday as Brady passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns after getting sacked three times in the first half. Julian Edelman was nearly uncoverable where Washington had no one that could stick with him. The running backs out of the backfield made big contributions with James White doing his normal solid work and Brandon Bolden hauling in a 29-yard touchdown. 

The Giants pass defense has been bad, allowing over 280 yards per game and allowing opposing QBs to post a 106.8 passer rating. Rewatching the tape of the Vikings game showed the play-action passing and crossing routes were giving them fits. However, the way to beat Brady and the Patriots offense is to bring pressure up the middle. That’s where Lawrence comes in. He has the ability to throw a monkey wrench into the Patriots plans. 

Look for the Patriots to utilize Edelman on those shallow crossers as he’ll take on Grant Haley in the slot. There will be no Phillip Dorsett, so Josh Gordon will be working against Janoris Jenkins. Look for the Patriots to run a lot of those two-back “Pony” sets with James White and Burkhead. Play action passing will be huge here to slow the pass rush and get the open man quickly.

Next up the Giants offense:

Giants RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Giants are missing the outstanding Saquon Barkley and his backup Wayne Gallman this week. Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain and is week-to-week and Gallman suffered a concussion against the Vikings. Now they’ll go with former practice squadders Jon Hilliman and fullback Eli Perry.  Perry is an intriguing player, tough physical, can carry the ball a bit and make the occasional catch. 

The Patriots front seven has been very good against the run. Last week, they had a single breakdown of a 65-yard jet sweep where the secondary missed tackles but other than that, they shut down the Redskins ground game. Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, and Michael Bennett have been excellent at slowing things at the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up. Unlike previous years, the Patriots are doing a much better job of setting the edge with John Simon and Jamie Collins doing a tremendous job. 

The much anticipated matchup with Barkley won’t happen this time around and with the G-Men on their third and fourth options, I don’t see them running a consistent rushing attack against a unit allowing 78 yards per game. 

Giants WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Giants passing game has shown definite signs of life with Daniel Jones, who was impressive here in August for the fourth preseason game. But he’s missing his top WR in Sterling Shepard as well as his top tight end Evan Engram who are hurt. He still has the talented Golden Tate and Darius Slayton but will that be enough? 

The Patriots pass defense has been on an absolute roll this year. With a deep and talented secondary with 11 interceptions, an excellent group of linebackers and a pass rush that has already generated 24 sacks, they are playing outstanding football. They are tops in the league allowing just 160.4 yards per game through the air and just 6.8 points per game. Despite the short week, the Patriots defense will have a slightly easier time to prepare for the Giants passing offense as it bears many of the same looks as Washington’s. 

Jones has mobility but look for the Patriots to continue to be aggressive and attack the Giants offensive line while rolling their coverages to try to confuse the rookie QB. Jamie Collins may be a spy on Jones if he starts to hurt the defense with his legs. But with a depleted pass receiving core, this matchup should easily favor New England.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New York

The Patriots Mike Nugent missed his first extra point attempt but then was perfect on his next three while hitting two chip shot field goals. Rookie punter Jake Bailey has been outstanding. While the return game has been hit or miss with rookie Gunner Olszewski. 

Meanwhile the Giants Aldrick Rosas hasn’t missed an extra point and has only one field goal miss although his long is only 36 yards. Punter Riley Dixon has been excellent and is averaging 47.5 yards per punt. Corey Ballentine has done a good job on kick returns, while Golden Tate and T.J. Jones handle punt returns. 

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are playing on a short week, but get this one at home, which always helps on Thursday Night Football. The Giants are beat up physically and missing several key skill position players on offense. Their defense has been allowing over 400 yards and over 25 points per game.  

Bill Belichick has been kryptonite for rookie QBs when facing them for the first time and Tom Brady has an 11-1 record in Thursday games. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Running Game Center Stage – Look for the Patriots once again to try to establish the run against a team that is struggling to stop it. Sony Michel should see plenty of work along with Burkhead [if he is active], James White with some Brandon Bolden mixed in. 

Getting in good position on early downs will open up the entire offense. On the flip side, with no Barkley and Gallman, the Patriots should be able to shut down the run. 

Do a Better Job on Third Downs – The Patriots offense struggled again on third down going just 5-15 last week in Washington. That stat has to improve. With a strong running game, it will open up play action especially in third and short situations. The running backs in the passing game along with Edelman will be third down keys. 

The Patriots defense has been outstanding on third down and held Washington to just 1-11 last week. They will look to continue that as well as limit big plays by the Giants offense. They should be able to stifle them from making the long ball-control type of drives, so the Giants may have to hit some big chunk plays to keep pace. 

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers – The Patriots have been crazy good at creating turnovers defensively with 11 interceptions and one fumble recovery. Look for them to try to keep creating a favorable field position for the offense. With a young, rookie QB, they may be able to bait him into making a mistake or two.

Brady has made two red-zone interceptions in the past two games, both of which were poor decisions. Those have to be cut out as well as maintaining good ball control on a night where the weather conditions are predicted to be bad. 

___________

This should be a game, [on paper] where the Patriots should roll easily. The Giants offense is missing their top two rushers and their top two pass receivers. Going against a defense that has been playing as well as New England’s while facing a rookie QB, it has the potential to get away from the away team quickly. That’s why they play the games. 

It will be interesting to see Josh McDaniels’ approach for the offense in this one. But with Sony Michel and the running backs in the passing game, along with Edelman and Gordon, Brady should have plenty of targets to go after a suspect Giants defense. Patriots 27-6

The “Knocking on Seven’s Door” tour heads to New Jersey and a Monday Night Football matchup with the New York Jets next week. 

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 and breakdown game analysis

 

Calling All Pats Fans, Kyle Van Noy Needs Your Help Designing A Shirt For “The Boogeymen”

Robert Alvarez
October 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm ET

Are you a graphic designer and love the New England Patriots?

Well, Kyle Van Noy wants your help, and he has an enticing reward for a job well done.

On Twitter Tuesday, Van Noy fired off a few recruitment tweets seeking a shirt/sweatshirt design for “the boogeymen”, a nickname for the Patriots linebacker corps coined by Dont’a Hightower.

If you think you have what it takes to win over what currently stands as the NFL’s best linebackers, get to work and send your shirt designs over to Van Noy before the weekend.

Through five games the defense has 24 sacks and is on pace for 77, a mark that would break the NFL record of 72, set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.

For even more perspective, the Patriots had 30 sacks total in 2018 and the team record sits at 57 which was set in 1979.

The Patriots also have 11 interceptions to lead the NFL.

Hightower voiced his praise for the defenses record setting start following Sunday’s win.

“We compete. It’s a great group not just in the linebacker room but the defense, we all want to compete. … We’re trying to get more picks, more forced fumbles. It’s a great defense”

The “boogeymen” meanwhile, will look to add to the record setting defensive numbers on Thursday night against a banged up Giants team, and perhaps celebrate another victory in new shirts.

VIDEO: Episode 3 Of Elite Eats With Kyle Van Noy

Robert Alvarez
October 5, 2019 at 11:30 pm ET

New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy is back with an all new episode of his “Elite Eats” web series on his YouTube channel.

In this episode, Van Noy brings along cornerback Stephon Gilmore for brunch at the “Farmers Daughter” restaurant in Easton, Massachusetts.

Patriots Players To Watch, Week 5  Against the Redskins

Steve Balestrieri
October 4, 2019 at 7:31 am ET

The Patriots head back out on the road this week and are taking on the winless Washington Redskins in Landover, MD on Sunday. 

We posted our keys to the game and our positional matchups on Thursday and today we’ll look at the different players from a New England perspective that we’ll be watching if they wish to continue their undefeated run thus far. Bill Belichick has been talking up the 0-4 Redskins all week so that there is no letdown against a lesser opponent. 

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week down in Washington as the Patriots take on the Redskins and try to improve to 5-0. 

Sony Michel: 

The Patriots haven’t run the ball well this year and have averaged just 91.3 yards per game. And Sony Michel has had a rough time of it early averaging just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt in 2019.  Part of the reason the running game has struggled is on the offensive line where they’ve had several injuries. And let’s not forget that last season’s tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen were outstanding blockers. Everything factors in. And of course, perhaps Michel is a tad slow in getting to the hole. 

But this week, the Patriots are facing a Redskins team that is allowing 147.5 yards per game and 4.7 yards per rush. Last week they allowed 164 yards to a Giants team that was missing Saquon Barkley. So, the opportunities are there for him to get untracked this week and start building something for the rest of the season when the schedule gets tougher. 

Look for Michel to get a lot of work this week, especially if the team can get off to an early lead. The Patriots should be able to run the ball effectively and Michel will be one of the key players to watch this week as the offense looks to rebound after a tough week in Buffalo the week before.  Michel’s battery mates, James White and Rex Burkhead should be very active in the passing game…maybe time to get Sony a few looks too, Josh???

Kyle Van Noy:

The Patriots and Bill Belichick have had a good record of bringing in veterans from other teams and finding a role for them where they either prolong their career or accomplish more than anyone ever thought possible. Van Noy is arguably one of Belichick’s biggest steals. Drafted by the Lions with the 40th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Van Noy was highly thought of as a prospect. But the Lions never used his skills correctly and they unloaded him and a 7th round draft pick for a Patriots sixth-round pick in 2016. 

Belichick has found a way to maximize Van Noy’s talent and his career has taken off in New England. He’s one of their most versatile and important defensive players on the roster. Last week he was the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week after his game against Buffalo. 

With the Redskins on tap for this week, we look for Van Noy to be a big part in trying to keep RB Adrian Peterson from getting untracked in the running game and for him to play close to RB Chris Thompson who has been very good for the Redskins out of the backfield with 20 catches for 251 yards, [12.6 yard average]. 

Marshall Newhouse:

Bill Belichick made it a point earlier this week to mention Redskins rookie outside linebacker Montez Sweat as one of Washington’s dangerous defensive players. Sweat was a first-round pick by Washington this spring [26th overall] one of two Redskins pick in the first round, [Dwayne Haskins #15]. 

Sweat is still learning his craft in the NFL but after the first two games where he struggled, he’s picked up his game and got his first NFL sack in Week 3 against the Bears. He’ll be rushing from Tom Brady’s blindside on the left. He’ll be taking on veteran Marshall Newhouse on that side. 

When Belichick mentions something, it isn’t normally to hear himself talk, so this area will be a point of emphasis for the team this week. Newhouse is going against an athletic, rookie pass rusher who ran a blistering [4.41] time in the 40 at the Combine. But the Patriots may be looking to run the ball to the left this week away from Ryan Kerrigan. That means Newhouse will be taking on the rookie in trying to get the RBs to the second level. 

Stephon Gilmore:

Gilmore’s rise among the NFL’s best cornerbacks means that he routinely gets the opponent’s best wide receiver. The veteran who always speaks quietly but confidently is the opposite of the many other brash but mostly less talented corners in the game. 

Gilmore has an intriguing matchup this week with the rookie speedster Terry McLaurin from Ohio State who is off to a tremendous start to his career. McLaurin who runs a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash has set a rookie record with at least five catches and a touchdown in each of his first three games. He can be a legitimate big play, deep threat receiver in the league. He missed the Giants game with a hamstring issue but was back at practice this week, albeit in a limited capacity. He may be a game-time decision.

If he does play this week, this will be a matchup to watch. The Redskins know, it will be hard to slowly move the ball down the field against this Patriots defense, they will have to get some chunk plays in the passing game. And Gilmore, who is among the very best in the league will be matched up with the very talented rookie.

Benjamin Watson: 

We were tempted to go with Tom Brady here, since all of the hot-take dolts on the national front drool over the Monday beat whenever Brady has [very infrequently] a bad day. But Brady rarely has two bad games in a row, and we expect him to be sharp this week. So, we’re going with Ben Watson, fresh off his four-game vacation, courtesy of the league office. Watson was back to practice this week, and it isn’t even certain that he’ll play yet, but we’re going on the assumption [dangerous game there] that he will indeed by activated and play this Sunday.

And the Patriots could surely use him too. Julian Edelman is playing with banged-up ribs, Josh Gordon has a knee issue that just popped up on the injury report and … oh yes, the current tight ends have been non-factors in the passing game and haven’t set the world on fire blocking either. 

While Watson was never known as a devastating blocker, he can at least hold his own and in the passing game, although 38 years old, he still runs well and can challenge the seams which should open up things a bit for the wide receivers underneath.   

_________

Check back with PatsFans.com for all of our pregame and post-game analysis. And if you’re a wiz at predicting the NFL slate straight up, register for our message board and then post your picks every week. We’ll see who is the top dog at the end of the season. That page can be found here: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

 

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

 

Best Of Social Media: Week 4 Patriots vs Bills

Robert Alvarez
October 3, 2019 at 11:03 pm ET

The Patriots traveled out to Buffalo to square off in a battle of 3-0 teams and were seeking their fifth 4-0 start under head coach Bill Belichick.

Check out some of the best sights and sounds from social media over the course of the game below.

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Weekend business trip #LFG

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

In the first quarter, the Patriots jumped out to a fast start on all phases.

Safety Devin McCourty made team history with four interceptions in four consecutive games.

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1178359662858641408?s=20

A Brandon Bolden four yard run gave the Patriots the first points of the night, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski continued his early season struggles with another missed extra point. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3KBD9WgqOy/

After going ahead 6-0, special teams captain Matthew Slater returned a blocked punt for his first career NFL touchdown.

13-0 New England after one quarter of play.

A rare Tom Brady interception in the end zone gave the Bills life just before halftime.

A Stephen Hauschka 46 Yd Field Goal cut the deficit to ten at 13-3.

 

In the third quarter, an opposing offense finally broke through on the Patriots stout defense as a Josh Allen opening drive rushing score made it a three point game.

13-10 New England

A Stephen Gostkowski 23 Yd Field Goal pushed the lead back to six after three quarters in a battle between two strong defenses.

The fourth quarter saw zero scoring from either side, but the Patriots defense out-dueled the Bills.

A Josh Allen/Jonathan Jones collision knocked Allen out of the game.

Jones’ hit drew a flag but not an ejection nor suspension.

The Patriots defense sealed the win when Kyle Van Noy came away with an interception of backup quarterback Matt Barkley.

A 16-10 Patriots victory marked the fifth time under Bill Belichick and first since 2015, that his team started a season 4-0.

The Patriots will head to Washington to take on the 0-4 Redskins on Sunday at 1pm.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3AivkdgN-K/

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Great team win #4-0 #next

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https://www.instagram.com/p/B3A0D23B1Gz/

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W.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

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For the man next to you.

A post shared by Rex Burkhead (@rbrex34) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3IXjFzJ1Wg/

Patriots – Redskins Week 5 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
at 8:52 am ET

The Patriots are back on the road in Week 5, as they head to our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins. With a win on Sunday, the Patriots will improve to 5-0 on the season and go 3-0 on the road, where they won only three games away from home in 2018.  

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, October 6 at 1:00 PM ET and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Melanie Collins will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (4-0) beat the Buffalo Bills 16-10 behind another outstanding defensive effort. New England had four interceptions and sacked Bills QBs five times

The Redskins (0-4) lost to the Giants 24-3. QB Case Keenum was replaced early in the second quarter for rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. .  

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Redskins, although frequent preseason opponents, have met on 10 times in the regular season. Although Washington holds a 6-4 advantage overall in the all-time series, the Patriots have won the last three meetings including a 27-10 win over the Skins in Gillette Stadium back in the 2015 season. 

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Redskins Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been mired in mediocrity at the quarter pole of the season. As a team, they are averaging just 91.3 yards per game [24th in the NFL] and a measly 3.2 yards per attempt in 2019. Injuries all along the offensive line have certainly played a part and running back Sony Michel has had precious little room to operate. However, he could hit the hole a tad quicker to help things a bit. 

Fullback James Develin was placed in IR but Jakob Johnson showed some promise in the Bills game. Rex Burkhead was nursing an injured foot last week and had only a single touch against Buffalo after being the go-to guy in the first three games. James White and Brandon Bolden will chip in as well. 

Washington has been really struggling against the run so far this season and is allowing a whopping 147.5 yards per game on the ground and 4.7 yards per rush. Washington plays a base 3-4 front and they are getting pushed around. Although NT Daron Payne is having a solid season. He’s been the bright spot for a defense reeling. Last week Washington gave up 164 yards on the ground to a Giants team without Saquon Barkley.

This will be a good week to get the running game untracked a bit and have Michel getting some positive yardage against a porous run defense. Don’t be surprised to see Brandon Bolden continue to get some play in the mix while Burkhead nurses his foot back to health.               

Patriots WRs vs Redskins Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game had a rough afternoon in Buffalo last week, Tom Brady had the worst statistical game since 2006. The Bills secondary effectively shut down the wide receivers. With Julian Edelman banged up [ribs] and now Josh Gordon limited with a knee issue, the passing game will be a key area to watch on Sunday. 

But Ben Watson should be back in the fold on Sunday, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The Patriots tight ends have been largely invisible for the first quarter of the season. It is pretty telling that safety Devin McCourty has caught as many passes [4 interceptions] as the TE group has caught overall. Look for Watson to attack the seams and open things up underneath. Burkhead and White out of the backfield should see plenty of passes coming their way. 

Washington’s pass defense is middle of the road [251 yards per game, 18th in the NFL] but that is a bit of a smoke and mirror stat since teams have been running the ball on them at will. Without the benefit of a good pass rush other than Ryan Kerrigan, teams are completing 77.8 percent of the passes their attempting. Their third-down defense is allowing a whopping 63 percent of conversions. Of their top four cornerbacks, only Quinton Dunbar is performing well. Opposing QBs have a 29.9 QB rating when targeting him. The others including Josh Norman 121.7, Jimmy Moreland, 131.5, and Fabian Moreau, 112.0 are not getting it done. 

Look for Brady to isolate White and Burkhead on the linebackers frequently and pick his spots with the WRs outside. We look for Jakobi Meyers to perhaps get some looks in the game this week. 

Next up the Redskins offense:

Redskins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots front seven has been outstanding against the run allowing just 61.3 yards per game [2nd overall]. And despite the big game from the ageless Frank Gore a week ago, most of his production came on two carries where the defense made correctable mistakes, mistakes that no doubt was played in the film room this week. Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy have been terrific at slowing the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up. 

Washington has struggled to run the ball averaging just 49.7 yards per game, and 2.9 yards per rushing attempt in 2019. Like New England, injuries to the OL have crippled them. Left tackle Trent Williams has been a holdout, center Chase Roullier and right guard Brandon Scherf are banged up. Adrian Peterson has had nowhere to run and is averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt. 

With their QB position in total flux right now, the Redskins are going to have to try to run the ball to take the pressure off whoever gets the start, [my money is on Colt McCoy this week].  With the way the Patriots front seven has been defending the run, I expect New England to win this matchup easily. 

Redskins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Redskins passing game has been middle of the road [246 yards per game, 16th] but with Case Keenum being benched and questionable for this one due to an injury, the question is who plays on Sunday? Jay Gruden, in a bit of gamesmanship, was asked about their QB plan for Sunday and replied that they didn’t have one. Haskins showed a week ago that he’s not ready. So I believe they’ll go with Colt McCoy.

The Redskins have two speedsters on the outside, rookie Terry McLaurin and Paul Richardson. McLaurin missed the game against the Giants due to a hamstring problem and is questionable for this one. But he’s been outstanding. Washington QBs targeting him thus far have a 141.8 QB rating. Chris Thompson has been a reliable target out of the backfield and has 20 catches for 251 yards. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are both banged up and may each miss this week.

The Patriots pass defense has been excellent thus far in 2019 allowing 181.8 yards per game [2nd in the NFL] and has racked up 18 sacks and 10 interceptions. Look for the Patriots to unleash the hounds on Sunday. With a running game that can’t get untracked, the Redskins should be in obvious passing situations most of the game. That is a recipe for the defense to attack.  

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Washington

The Patriots Stephen Gostkowski was placed on IR [hip surgery] on Wednesday and as of this posting, the Patriots don’t even have a kicker on the roster. They’re holding tryouts 

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are facing a team that is beaten up physically and reeling mentally. And yet, many fans and media members chuckle at Bill Belichick as he sings the praises of the Redskins as if they are 4-0 instead of the opposite. That’s why the team’s winning percentage is, and continues to be far above the rest of the league for the past 19 years. They rarely, if ever, play down to the level of their competition. In this sense, Belichick is the anti-Tomlin, and the team is much better for it. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Running Game Takes Over – Look for the Patriots to try to establish the run early in this game and set the tone for the afternoon. With a strong showing in the running game, it will open up play action passing and should help Tom Brady have a big day throwing the ball. 

On the flip side of the coin, controlling the Washington running game will force the game into the hands of whoever is the QB this week. With the way the secondary has been playing, coupled with the pressure the front seven has been getting, it is a recipe for success. Look for the defense to continue its very aggressive approach. 

Win Third Downs – The Patriots offense struggled last week against an overall excellent Buffalo defense [5-18]. That should change this week. Washington’s defense is allowing an average of 63 percent of third downs to be converted. Even worse, opposing QBs are completing  87percent of passes attempted on third down. If the running game gets untracked, like we envision, that trend will continue. 

The Redskins have struggled on 3rd down offensively converting only 12 of 42 attempts [28.5 percent]. Their inability to run the ball has forced them into too many third and long attempts. Look for the Patriots to dominate 3rd down defensively again. 

***Insane Stat Time*** – The Patriots defense has more turnovers [10] than 3rd down conversions they’ve allowed, [7]. Overall, the Patriots defense has been outstanding on 3rd down [7-52, 13 percent]. 

Keep Creating Turnovers – The Patriots are +6 in the turnover department, while the Redskins are -3. See above insane stat line, the only way Washington can hope to pull an upset is to protect the ball, which is something they haven’t done, and force the  Patriots into some turnovers. 

The way the defense has been playing very opportunistic football, we expect this trend to continue on Sunday as Bill Belichick knows that this team they’re facing is ripe for packing it in, if they get up to a nice lead early. 

___________

This should be a game where the Patriots should take care of business early and win easily. Jay Gruden is definitely on the hot seat in Washington, but with the interference of owner Daniel Snyder, the once prime Redskins job is now one, that won’t be highly sought after. The front office is no doubt pushing Gruden to start Haskins in this one, although he showed last week [and Gruden knew] that he wasn’t ready. Gruden will try to go with Colt McCoy in our opinion but his hand may be forced here. 

Don’t expect a lot of fireworks in this one. I expect a methodical, workman-like approach for the Patriots on offense, as they eat the clock and keep grinding the ball down the field. Look for James White/Rex Burkhead to have a big game catching the ball as the Patriots roll and move to 5-0. Patriots 35-7

The “Knocking on Seven’s Door” tour heads home to Gillette Stadium on a short week to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.

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 and breakdown game analysis

 

Patriots Week 4 Report Card, in Tough 16-10 Win Over the Bills

Steve Balestrieri
October 1, 2019 at 7:42 am ET

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

The Patriots are, despite the hand-wringing going on 4-0 and have already beaten every team in the division. And yes, with the way the defense played, they did deserve to win. The offense, on the other hand, struggled mightily. And the Bills had the same issue, while their defense was lights out, their offense threw four interceptions and had another turnover on downs inside the five-yard line. So it was a tale of two cities…if you will.

Special teams once again played a big role, both positively and negatively in this game but in the end, it was a knock-down grind out contest that the Patriots won, on the road in a very hostile environment. 

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.

Quarterback: D+

Tom Brady had a pretty awful day by his standards, completing 18-39 for just 150 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. The pick in the end zone [his first of the season] was particularly bad as it took points off the field and was a bad mental mistake, something that Brady rarely makes. His best throw was early on a 26-yard drop in the bucket to James White that set up the Patriots first touchdown.

But he wasn’t getting a ton of support from his wide receivers nor his offensive line in this game. There was plenty of negativity to go around…and will. 

Running Backs: B-

The Patriots got back James White this week, and as we pointed out in our keys, he figured to be a big part of the passing game [like the Buffalo game a year ago] and he was. White caught eight passes for 57 yards and was his normal, clutch self out there, setting up the Patriots first TD on a 26-yard wheel route where he beat Matt Milano. 

Sony Michel had 63 yards on 17 carries [3.7-yard average] and showed some signs of getting the running game going. He does, however, seem to take an extra half-second or so, with hitting the hole. And in his defense, maybe it is because there isn’t any there. 

Brandon Bolden again got some early work and scored on a nicely designed 4-yard run. Rex Burkhead was limited with a foot injury and got no carries, and had one reception for 7 yards. [More to this below] Jakob Johnson had some nice moments in the blocking game, including a nice clean out of Milano that sprung Michel on a 10-yard run.

Wide Receivers: D

The Buffalo secondary totally dominated this matchup on Sunday as the wide receivers got very little in the way of separation on Sunday. Josh Gordon had 3 catches for 46 yards including a big 31-yard drag route that the Bills challenged. Julian Edelman was banged up and not targeted nearly as much as normal and had only four catches for 30 yards. He also had a drop where he was in the clear and had a lot of running room. Phillip Dorsett, “the man that catches everything thrown his way” was taken away by the Bills. He was targeted 9 times and had 2 catches for 10 yards. Jakobi Meyers wasn’t targeted but once all game.

Last week the top three Edelman, Gordon, and Dorsett had 19 catches for 198 yards. This week they were targeted 23 times and had 9 catches for 86. That ain’t getting it done folks. 

Tight Ends: D-

Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo weren’t targeted once in the passing game. When the TEs’ biggest contribution is whether or not his rub route was a foul or not, the production isn’t getting there. And the blocking has not been great either, not bad per se, but not great. It makes one appreciate Gronk so much more when he blocked like another tackle out there.  

Offensive Line: C-

The offensive line still is having struggles opening holes in the running game, and they’re not getting a push on the opponent. Too many times the Bills stood them up at the line of scrimmage. The stretch runs don’t seem to be nearly as effective as the middle runs are. They were able to spring Michel on a few of them. 

The pass blocking didn’t allow a sack, but a lot of that has to do with Brady being able to get rid of the ball so fast, as in the second half, the Bills pressure put Brady on rollerskates far too many times. 

Coach Scarnecchia is always preaching everyone pulling together, and I believe that he’s going to sort this out. 

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line led by Lawrence Guy was excellent. Guy constantly takes on double teams and stops the offensive line from getting any push. Danny Shelton, who is really playing well in his second stint in Foxboro, had another strong game inside. 

The Patriots pass rush racked up another five sacks for 40 yards and eight QB hits this week against the Bills QBs. While Frank Gore rolled up 109 yards on 17 carries, [6.4yard average], two of those runs totaled 61 yards and were from players other than the DL not making the plays at or near the line of scrimmage. 

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots linebackers even without Dont’a Hightower had another excellent game on Sunday. Kyle Van Noy, [becoming one of Bill Belichick’s biggest steals] was outstanding on the field for the Patriots. Van Noy was everywhere, eight tackles, including two for a loss, two sacks and four QB hits, including the final play for the defense where he hit Matt Barkley as he was releasing the ball, and allowed Jamie Collins an easy interception. 

Collins was again very good and has to be loving his second go ‘round with the Patriots.He had four tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack, one QB hit, one pass defensed and one huge interception to seal the deal. 

Ja’Whaun Bentley was solid in filling in for Hightower, but he had one major gaffe early in the game. Gore showed a run to the outside, Bentley reacted too quickly and tried to fill a gap that was set on the edge. Gore recognized it and cut back to a wide-open B gap and ran it for 20 yards. 

Secondary: A-

The secondary had another big day intercepting three passes and limiting the Bills to just 10 points. J.C. Jackson had a pair of interceptions and provided very solid coverage. Zay Jones was held to 2 catches for 4 yards on 8 targets. John Brown and Stephon Gilmore battled hard all day with Brown coming away with 5 catches for 69 yards on 11 targets. Cole Beasley led Buffalo with seven catches for 75 yards with most of them later in the game after matching up with Jonathan Jones. 

Jackson had two mistakes that he’ll hear about from Belichick. On Frank Gore’s 41-yard run, Jackson had a clear attempt to wrap him up about two yards from the line of scrimmage. He turned and attempted a shoulder block that Gore shook off like a dog coming in from the rain and rolled for 41 yard…tsk, tsk. He also left his feet on a blitz against a mobile QB. Uh-oh, BB will take umbrage with that. But overall the second year UDFA had an excellent day.

Pat Chung had a solid game and had excellent coverage on Dawson Knox who just made a fantastic over the shoulder 26-yard catch on a third down. Couldn’t defend it any better than that.  Devin McCourty had his fourth interception in as many games. 

Special Teams: B

Stephen Gostkowski had another miss on the first extra point of the day in an increasingly puzzling development. That miss may have loomed large if the Bills had scored in their final drive.

But the special teams’ units scored a touchdown on a blocked punt by J.C. Jackson that was returned for a score by Matthew Slater, his first touchdown in a stellar 12-year career. Jake Bailey was outstanding again punting nine times for a 48.1 average including two punts of more than 60 yards.

Coaches: B-

The Patriots coaching staff had the team prepared and they made nearly all of the correct calls on defense and special teams. Obviously, they saw something on tape that showed them the Bills were ripe for a punt block and they executed it flawlessly. 

The offense and Joss McDaniels, however, struggled and the play calling was seemingly stagnant. They were relying on too many screens at or behind the line of scrimmage that the Bills were not fooled by all game. The Bills weakness on defense is the middle of the field targeting the linebackers but the Patriots attempted precious few attempts there. Perhaps Edelman being banged up and lack of confidence in the TEs has something to do with that. But Ben Watson should return just in time. 

We’re on to the nation’s capital to take on the Redskins at 4-0, so there is a reason for optimism around these parts. The “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door” 2019 tour continues. 

 

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