The New England Patriots defeated a severely depleted New York Giants team on Thursday Night Football last week 35-14. While it was just a quick-turnaround game against an unfamiliar foe for the undefeated defending Super Bowl champions, it a chance for the Giants to measure up to the best of the best.
It was ugly.
New England jumped out to a 14-0 lead early before bad luck and some miscues forced them into a more disciplined game plan. The Giants tied the score at 14 apiece on a 64 yard completion and touchdown to Golden Tate (on a pass that Jonathan Jones got his hands on) and then a sack and fumble of Tom Brady led to a 42 yard fumble return.
The Patriots scored two touchdowns following long drives highlighted by Brady plunging into the end zone on quarterback keepers to finish both. Those were sandwiched between a 16 play drive that ate almost ten minute of the clock before missing a field goal and another nine play drive over five minutes that ended on a failed fourth down conversion. Add in another touchdown by the defense (Kyle Van Noy this time) and it was a blowout at the end.
Now at 6-0 and facing their latest divisional contender, the Patriots continue a strangle-hold they have had on the AFC East for almost two decades. The six Super Bowl wins and nine trips cement them as a dynasty. They have been to four Super Bowls in the last five years, ten consecutive AFC East championships and eight consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game.
This week the 1-4 New York Jets–who upset the free-falling Dallas Cowboys last week–suddenly have playoff aspirations. The Monday Night Football game is in the wilds of New Jersey as the Jets welcome the Patriots to what the New Yorkers consider to be their own personal Super Bowl. The Jets are entering the prime time game with a lot of swagger and after just one victory talking playoffs.
For the Patriots, it is only a prime time divisional game in mid-October.
This week’s game will be broadcast by ESPN and can be seen locally on WCVB Channel 5. Joe Tessitore will handle play-by-play duties with Booger McFarland as the color analyst. Lisa Salters will work from the sidelines.
On the radio, Sunday’s game will be broadcast on 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network and all of the network’s 38 stations carry the game live. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci is back to call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who provides his own unique color analysis.
Each week the game comes down to the match-ups. These are the top match-ups on offense that will determine if the Patriots are the team which emerges victorious.
The Patriots’ offense has been dissected on local talk radio despite the team being number one in the NFL with 190 points scored (31.7 points per game) through six weeks. Yes, the defense has helped but they are eight in the NFL in yards, fifth in passing yards, and although they are 21st in rushing yards, that is an improvement (all statistics from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted).
The balanced offensive attack of last season remains off-kilter as the Patriots have struggled to run the ball due to injuries on the offensive line, fullback and tight end and. That disciplined and effective running game from last season has been missing. However, in the last two games, the Patriots have rushed for 130 and 114 yards on the ground after failing to top 75 yards rushing the previous two weeks.
The New England Patriots offense faces a New York Jets defense with a number of individual stars who have not been able to put any consistency together due to injuries and inconsistency. Prize free agent inside linebacker C.J. Mosely should return to give the defense a boost. However, the lack of a pass rush (seven sacks in five games) and poor cornerback play has been a problem for the Jets.
How does the New England Patriots’ offense get back on the right track in 2019 against the New York Jets’ defense?
Patriots’ Offensive Line vs New York’s Defensive Line:
With right tackle Marcus Cannon off the injury report from an early season shoulder injury and left tackle Marshall Newhouse off the injury report as well the unit is as healthy as it gets. Unfortunately, full strength as of today includes 2018 first round draft pick Isaiah Wynn still on injured reserve and Ted Karras filling in all season for David Andrews.
Karras has acquitted himself well through six weeks at center, but he struggled against the Jets in week three allowing a sack and two hurries (per NESN). The Jets bring pressure up the middle of the defense so Karras, Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason will have their hands full with 2019 first round pick Quinnen Williams and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Leondard Williams. Veteran nose tackle Steve McLendon is likely a game time decision with a hamstring injury.
The tackles for New England have it a bit easier with the Jets’ outside pass rush limited to Jordan Jenkins (two sacks) and Neville Hewitt (two sacks). Both are on the injury report (along with Henry Anderson who was last season’s sack leader in New York) with Jenkins the only of the three expected to play on Monday night.
New York’s defense clearly missed Mosely in the middle as the unit’s quarterback. His return should be a huge boost to the run and pass defense. The New England offensive line is getting some consistency with the same five starters for the fourth consecutive week. If the offensive line can slow the Gregg Williams blitz packages and run the ball, it could be a sign things are back on track.
ADVANTAGE: New England
Patriots’ Running Backs vs New York’s Linebackers:
New England’s running game is finally gaining some momentum in 2019. The losses of tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen, left tackle Trent Brown (and Isaiah Wynn), center David Andrews and fullback James Develin from last season’s dominating running game changes the equation. An injury to Rex Burkhead has chipped at the depth the last two weeks.
Sony Michel had just 171 yards through four games and was averaging 2.8 yards per rush. In the last two games he piled up 91 and 86 yards averaging 5.7 and 3.9 yards per rush. In addition, he expanded his role with five receptions for 60 yards over those two games after not having had a reception the first four weeks.
Rex Burkhead had been the best performer at running back early but has missed two consecutive games. His foot injury has him ruled out for a third consecutive game on Monday night. Rookie third-round draft pick Damien Harris has yet to get on the field despite injuries. Fullbacks Jakob Johnson and Develin are both out for the season.
The Jets have not been terrible against the run despite missing Mosely. Safety Jamal Adams does absolutely everything for that defense including helping in the running game and stakes a claim as one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. New York has only allowed 100 yards rushing in two games and those were their win last week against Dallas and their one-point loss to Buffalo in week one.
With McLendon on the injury report and a game time decision, the Jets’ run defense could take a hit on Monday night despite Mosely returning. Add in extended playing time for Blake Cashman, Brandon Copeland and Harvey Langi (remember him?)–which is not good news for New York
New York’s run defense has been inconsistent but so has the New England running game. New England has good health on the offensive line and the Jets are banged up. This could be a great chance for the Patriots’ running game to show dramatic improvement.
ADVANTAGE: New England
Patriots’ Pass Catchers vs New York’s Secondary:
The New England pass catchers are an immediate concern for the entire fanbase at this time. Josh Gordon was injured again on Thursday night and has yet to practice this week and may not play Monday night. Julian Edelman–who was injured in the chest/ribs in week three– looked hampered and has been gutting it out for the last month. Phillip Dorsett was injured and missed the Giants game as well.
The Patriots are hopeful Dorsett will play while Gordon has already been ruled out for Monday night.
With the injuries hitting the wide receiver group, the Patriots were forced to play with just two undrafted free agents (Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski) and Edelman. The tight ends group lost Matt LaCosse again and now Ryan Izzo is out with a concussion. Both are already ruled out for Monday night. The tight end group is down to Ben Watson and newly signed Erik Tomlinson.
As usual, it was James White (nine catches on nine targets for 46 yards) basically was the passing game on third down when a first down was needed. White missed the Jets game in week three due to the birth of his child and the offense and should give their linebackers fits. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should consider using safety Jamal Adams to match-up with White on third down.
New York spent a ton of money on last year importing free agent cornerback Trumaine Johnson–who has not lived up to his contract. Defensive coordinator Williams runs an aggressive, pressure-heavy via blitzing scheme that at times leaves his weak cornerback group over-matched. Patriots cast-off Darryl Roberts and former Falcons cornerback Brian Poole are below-average starters. This secondary is 21st in passing yards allowed and has only four interceptions.
The New York secondary has a few big names and more than a few weak links. With an aggressive defensive strategy and big holes due to injury at key positions, Tom Brady and the Patriots should be able to get back to normal on offense. Expect the Patriots to have few problems moving the ball through the air.
ADVANTAGE: New England
The New England offense faces a defense that is still finding its footing and struggled in the red zone and on third-down. New York is 23rd on third down conversion percentage (44.1%). Also, they have allowed nine touchdowns on 14 trips to the red zone. This is a great week for the Patriots to get back to running the ball and making big plays through the air via play-action.
However, the Jets get C.J. Mosley back as the quarterback on the defense. That said, with Henry Anderson and Neville Hewitt unlikely to play and Steve McLendon questionable, the Jets could be missing a good chunk of their pass rushers on Monday night.
NEW ENGLAND EXPECTED POINTS SCORED: 31
-Hal Bent is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @halbent01