Ho-hum. Another week another dominating performance by the Patriots’ defense as they suffocated the Washington offense, save for one hiccup. The offense even showed life in the second half with the ground attack that made them so dangerous in the playoffs last year. All in all, everything went well though because regardless of how each unit played, the Patriots are still undefeated.
With that being said though, their domination is starting to get insane. How dominant have they been? They have the best point differential in the league of +121, or +41 more than the only other undefeated team, the 49ers. Even more impressive they have a better point differential than all the other 2018 AFC playoff field combined (+91), as well as more than the entire 2018 NFC playoff field combined (+115). That is utter domination and taking care of business. Now onto the short week against the Giants.
With the Giants visiting Gillette Stadium it is important to note the Giants do have some ties to the Patriots and New England area on their roster. First and foremost is free agent defection Nate Solder, who departed prior to last season for a well-earned big money deal. Solder is their starting left tackle. Solder is not the only offensive lineman who has Patriot ties as former Pats draft pick Jon Halapio is also a starter at center. Additionally the Giants still have Zak DeOssie, son of Patriots’ analyst Steve DeOssie, who attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Also of note is one of the likely fill-ins for Wayne Gallman and Saquon Barkley is Jon Hilliman, who attended school at Boston College.
The first part of the schedule has been very kind to the Patriots as very as bad offenses or lucky breaks and that doesn’t figure to change this week. The Giants have a lot of injuries they are dealing with and a rookie quarterback playing a Bill Belichick defense on the road. Not an ideal pairing considering Belichick has never lost to a rookie in Foxborough in 11 tries. Unfortunately for Daniel Jones he will be missing Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard and possibly tight end Evan Engram, all of whom are dynamic options for the rookie signal caller.
In their place the Giants figure to start Elijhaa Penny/Jon Hilliman at running back, Golden Tate/Cody Latimer/Cody Core at receiver, and Rhett Ellison at tight end. Not good for a team that is 15th in the NFL in total yards per game with a healthy complement of weapons.
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As has been stated multiple times over the past few weeks, the Patriots defense is special. They have only allowed two offensive touchdowns over the first five games. Something that is truly astounding. Not allowing points is obviously the most important task for the defense as people around here can attest hearing “bend don’t break” ad-nauseum over the past decade or so, however this defense has been special in other ways as well. For instance, Jamie Collins is having an unbelievable year. Courtesy of legendary Patriots scribe Christopher Price of the Boston Globe, Collins is the only player in the NFL with three interceptions and four sacks. He has been truly unique.
Moreover though the Patriots also have one McCourty interception in every game this season with Devin McCourty getting one in each of the first four games (he leads the league with 4; Collins is alone in 2nd with 3!) and Jason getting one against Washington. Incredibly J.C. Jackson has two interceptions and is tied for the next place in the league leaders, giving the Patriots the top three players in interceptions in the league.
Additionally the Patriots have six of the top 52 players in sacks so far this season with Collins (4.5) tops among them at ninth in the league so far, Winovich (4) just outside the top 10 at 13th, and Michael Bennet (2.5), Adam Butler (2.5), Kyle Van Noy (2.5), and Dont’a Hightower (2) behind them.
One thing that usually separates good and bad teams, and even good to great teams is the turnover battle. Per usual, the Patriots have excelled in that portion of the game tying for the league lead (with GB) with a +7 turnover margin. They also lead the league in interceptions with 11, or four more than the next closest teams. (GB, SF) They are however tied for last among a big group of teams in fumbles recovered with just one thus far.
On the other side of things the Giants are not good with turnovers. They are tied for second worst in the league with a differential of -5, and have thrown five interceptions and lost six fumbles. All this while getting five interceptions and one fumble. The bad news for them is that Jones has now thrown an interception in two straight games and is about to go against the best defense in the league, with the deepest secondary and most interceptions in the league. Not ideal.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Giants 6
If the Giants had a healthy complement of receivers and backs this game could be a bigger test as the Giants do possess some intriguing players with good upside on offense. However, this team is too banged up and Daniel Jones is going to be hard pressed to beat Bill Belichick who is likely to throw some new things at the rookie. Look for the Patriots to utilize the ground game and sprinkle in some play-action as the Patriots will look to continue to get their offense back on track at home.
–David Albiani is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @david_albiani