The Patriots beat the dreadful Jets last week on a game winning field goal by Nick Folk. Cam Newton and Jakobi Meyers played very well, just as I predicted in last weeks edition. I projected that Newton would have two total touchdowns, and 275 passing yards. He did not disappoint, finding the end zone twice, while throwing for 247 yards, just 1 yard shy of my projection.
Along with Newton, Jakobi Meyers was the other main focal point for last weeks game, and I doubt anyone missed that performance. The projection for Meyers was a total of 165 yards receiving, which he reached, then added on 4 more. So this week I hope I can provide you with some similar projections, now let’s get into what to watch for, Ravens edition.
All eyes on Jakobi Meyers
Meyers put on a clinic against the Jets, but it’s not his only solid performance this year. In the last four week’s Jakobi Meyers has the second most air yards per game (131) which does bring up the question, why has he been on the bench? He isn’t the fastest or strongest player but he is reliable. Meyers has the ability to find the soft spot and sit down, and anything in his vicinity is caught. He has great hands and the trust of Cam Newton on key downs. For example Meyers had 8 receiving first downs last week, which is the most since Brandon Lafell did it in 2014. He hauled in the final throw of the game to set up the winning kick, Meyers isn’t flying under the radar anymore.
The only downside to his great play as of late, is the attention he is receiving. In the past 3 games, Jakobi Meyers has more yards than DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper and Cooper Kupp. John Harbaugh has taken notice and spoke about Cam and Meyers connection. So this will once again be the biggest thing to watch for, can Newton and Meyers keep this up?
I say absolutely and I’d be remiss not mention his blocking last week, something he’s clearly been working on.
Lamar Jackson and the ground game
The biggest problem for the Patriots this season is their front seven. New England’s run defense is below average, allowing teams to have their way with the Patriots undersized personnel. So the Patriots ability to stop the run is a huge concern this week. The Ravens have the best rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 170 yards per game.
The main reason Baltimore is so hard to slow down is because of the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson. The elusive and shifty quarterback has 469 yards rushing so far this year. The Ravens also boast a RB group with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and rookie J.K Dobbins, this is a bad matchup for the Patriots. New England has issues at linebacker, so I’d love to see more of Winovich and Josh Uche. As injuries have started to mount, the Patriots have been going with backups and it has showed. If Lawrence Guy and Ja’Whuan Bentley can return this week it certainly wouldn’t hurt, even though Bentley has been playing poorly in recent weeks.
So Lamar Jackson is the Ravens X-factor, as he and the running backs have watched film of the Patriots inability to stop the run and set the edge. If they play smart football and don’t beat themselves the Ravens should win this game.
Belichick is making due with what he has, which are safeties and cornerbacks trying to play inside linebacker, and unfortunately it hasn’t been enough. As good as Adrian Phillips is, he is not a linebacker, so Belichick needs to come up with a plan or the Ravens will literally run away with the win. No pun intended
The Patriots secondary and Gilmore
The Patriots game plan against Lamar Jackson should be a simple one, make him throw it. Jackson does have some nice weapons to throw to, like Mark Andrews, Willie Snead and Marquise Brown. But if the Patriots can do their job by forcing Lamar to throw the ball, this secondary will be primed for a big game. After last weeks performance, allowing Joe Flacco to look like Joe Montana, I’d expect this veteran group to come in ready and hungry to redeem themselves. Of course the team was missing Stephon Gilmore, who could be ready to go this week, but other players need to step up. Jackson will turn the ball over when forced to use his arm, so watch out for the turnover battle as that will be a major factor in this game.
Lamar Jackson is already distracted, revealing earlier this week that defenses are calling out the Ravens plays at the line of scrimmage. If that weren’t enough for a young quarterback to handle, he’s got Bill Belichick waiting to pounce. If the Ravens cannot keep their play calling to themselves, and every team knows what they’re doing, I bet Ernie Adams and Belichick have been on this for months
Mike’s player projections & Bold predictions
My player projections for last week were very close, as I mentioned at the beginning, I also had J.C Jackson securing an interception. He didn’t score but I’ll take the win anyway, and this week I’m going with Jackson again. I think he will have 2 interceptions and a huge day, showing why he deserves to be paid with the big dogs. Cam Newton will have more rushing touchdowns than Lamar Jackson, and will have another 200+ passing yard day. Where are all those yards going…you guessed it, Jakobi Meyers! He is taking the league by storm, and will once again have at least 100 yards receiving with a touchdown catch.
Patriots keep the momentum rolling with a 27-24 win and John Harbaugh will complain about something. Book it.
(Image:-AP Photo/Adrian Krause)
–Michael Quilty is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @boston_sp0rts20