Well another week, another win for the Patriots. I am sure most fans will not be satisfied as the offense once again looked disjointed, dysfunctional, inefficient, and highly ineffective. Despite that long list of problems though, don’t forget New England is 9-1, are on track to get a bye and potentially home-field advantage. Sure, the offense has not been good, but the Patriots are getting a very solid left tackle back, which will greatly improve Brady’s confidence in the pocket. Additionally the Patriots have time to work through it and with their defense playing as well as they have, the offense doesn’t need to be elite. It just needs to capitalize on breaks, be able to flip the field when needed, and do well with situational football.
The first chance for the Pats to do that is this week at home against what has been an elite offense, where the Patriots have a 20-game win streak and last lost way back in week four against the Panthers in 2017. With that said, here is what’s happening in week 12.
When looking at the Cowboys roster, they do have a solid connection to the New England area or Patriots roster. As far as the New England area, there are only two links on the Dallas roster. Byron Jones, the best corner for the Cowboys played his college football at UConn, while interior offensive lineman Adam Redmond played at Harvard, but is currently on injured reserve.
When expanding it to players who played on the Patriots though, the list expands a little. The most obvious is Michael Bennett, whom the Pats traded for a conditional late-round pick. Bennett has three sacked and seven quarterback hits in the three games since the trade. Other former Patriots are offensive tackle Cameron Fleming,
When discussing the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn one thing is clear, he is a massive upgrade over Marshall Newhouse, even if he plays as an average left tackle. However expectations do need to be tempered a little. First thing is first, Wynn will have to work up his conditioning considering there is a big difference between being in-shape and in game shape. The second and most important as far as I’m concerned is Wynn has yet to prove he can stay healthy. As Bill Belichick has mentioned in the past, the best ability for a player is availability.
Looking ahead though, this is surely Wynn’s last chance as a long-term tackle in this spot if he cannot stay healthy the rest of the year, but the focus for now is on the present, and he is undoubtedly a huge positive going forward whenever he is on the field.
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Discussing offenses, it is clear New England is going the wrong way, while the Cowboys have been consistent all year. The Cowboys currently possess the top ranked passing offense as well as being tops in total yards. They are also seventh in rushing yards per game making them as well rounded as anyone in the league. In fact, they are one of only two teams in the top 10 in total yards, passing yards, rushing yards and points per game. Can you guess the other team? (Scroll below the prediction to find the answer! It may surprise you.)
With that being said the engine of their offense is Dak Prescott who has become an MVP candidate. Prescott can run when needed, can make a lot of throws, and has improved a good amount over the past year. There is also the insanely good offensive line, which when healthy, is absolutely dominant. The Patriots will need to bring their A-game, especially against the run or this could be a huge problem.
Since this is fourth down and it is a predominantly special teams down, it is time to give some love to punter Jake Bailey. The award is his second of the season, with Bailey joining Nick Bosa as the only rookie to win it more than once. No doubt the award was deserved though as Bailey landed six punts inside the 20-yard line. Bailey has been a weapon for them and with two special teamers like Justin Bethel and Matthew Slater the coverage has matched the Bailey’s leg. The Patriots clearly made the right call going with the rookie despite a strong performance in the Super Bowl by Ryan Allen.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Cowboys 19
The Patriots defense will really be put to the test this week as the Cowboys have a lot of weapons and are multi-faceted. Everyone will be tested as the Cowboys have a great offensive line that stifles great pass rushers and mauls in the run game, a stud wideout for Gilmore, a great slot receiver in Randall Cobb, and a top-five back in Ezekiel Elliott. Throw on top of that a guy like Dak Prescott who has played extremely well this year and it’ll be a tall task.
Despite that though I think the Patriots really come out firing with the offense looking good and coming away with three touchdown drives. Tom Brady will be out looking to prove doubters wrong and with Wynn back, Brady should be more comfortable in the pocket and less antsy. Look for a big game from James White and I think N’Keal Harry catches his first career touchdown.
Trivia answer: Seattle Seahawks. (4th in total yards, 10th in passing yards, 6th in rushing yards and 7th in points per game)
–David Albiani is Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @david_albiani