The Patriots will take on the putrid New York Jets on Monday Night Football this week. New England dropped to 2-5 after losing to the Buffalo Bills in an encouraging performance. The offense looked better, Cam looked better, and Damien Harris looks to be as dangerous as I’ve been predicting. However Newton’s fumble was the nail in the coffin, dropping the team to third place in the AFC East. Here’s what you should you be watching for this week.
THE PATRIOTS DEFENSE
Bill Belichick’s defense hasn’t looked the same for a few weeks now. In a game with 50 mph winds, the Bills ran the ball right down New England’s throat. Buffalo was just shy of 200 yards rushing in the game, and here’s why. The Patriots don’t have any linebackers. Guys like Adrian Phillips are lining up at inside linebacker, the Bills recognized they could play bully ball the way the niners did two weeks ago. So Belichick will need to find a way to stop the run this week, because everyone knows New England’s run defense is their Achilles heel.
The issue still remains the same however, the team just doesn’t have the personal to match up with opponents. One thing I’ve never written about a Belichick coached defense is poor tackling. The past two weeks tackling has been wildly uncharacteristic, which is worrisome. The defense as a whole isn’t playing up to their potential, and it goes back to basic fundamentals…like proper tacking.
PATRIOTS PASSING GAME
The loss of Julian Edelman is obviously a huge blow to the team, however Jakobi Meyers had himself a great day against Buffalo. He isn’t the fastest or biggest guy, but he always finds a way to get open. The best part of his game are his hands, Meyers catches everything thrown in his direction. So Jakobi will be the guy to watch Monday night. (Stat-line prediction) 8/165/1 TD for Meyers.
As good as Meyers looked last week, the rest of the offense was nothing to write home about. The offensive line continued to negate big plays with penalties that ultimately ended drives. The group will surely improve on the mental mistakes, and let the Jets beat themselves in the trenches.
Another player to keep an eye on is newly acquired wide receiver Isaiah Ford. He just arrived from the Dolphins, so his playing time is unknown, but if he does suit up look for him to take over the slot position.
Of course we can’t talk about the offense without mentioning Cam Newton. The Patriots QB looked much better last week, and certainly has a connection with Meyers. The two will look to build on their chemistry against a bad New York team.
The Patriots are in a very rare position and desperately need a win to stop this 4 game losing streak. The blame for these losses cannot all be placed on the players though. Bill Belichick has made some head scratching decisions as of late.
The onside kick comes to mind. The decision to kick a field goal on third down instead of taking a shot at the end zone before the half does as well. Bill had his reasons, and while some of you agree with them, a lot of people don’t.
He told reporters that taking a chance before halftime was “a low percentage play” but if he’s playing percentages, then why try an onside kick, a play that has the lowest percentage in the game at 6%. I’m not saying Bill is slipping, but this isn’t like him at all.
The point is that this entire team, from the coaches to the players, need to get back to the basics and just play hard nose football. Cam is trending in the right direction. As is Damien Harris, JC Jackson and Jakobi Meyers.
The Patriots bounce back with a win against the hated Jets 28-6, JC Jackson will get things started with a pick six to kick things off for the Patriots. Damien Harris will find paydirt again this week while rushing for 110 yards on 20 carries. Cam Newton will pass for 275 yards while running for another 60 yards. He will have two total TDs, scoring on a 15 yard run, and a 25 yard passing score hauled in by Jakobi Meyers. The Jets will continue to be the Jets while the Patriots gain confidence in a stellar defensive performance. Sam Darnold will have more interceptions than red zone opportunities. So those are my bold predictions for week 9, enjoy the game everyone.
–Michael Quilty is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @boston_sp0rts20