The New England Patriots sit at a disappointing 1-2 after three weeks of the 2022 NFL season. This week they head to historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI to face off against Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s sixth-ranked defense. Led by their pass rush trio of the perennially underrated Kenny Clark inside and edge rushers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, the Packers could be the best defense faced by the Patriots this season.
This week’s match-up will be back on CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4 in the greater Boston area and on WPRI-TV Channel 12 in the greater Providence area as usual. As the national 4:25pm game, the top broadcast team of Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will report from the sidelines.
This week’s game will be broadcast to a national audience by Sports USA. Larry Kahn will call the game with Mark Carrier providing analysis.
Locally, 98.5 The Sports Hub remains the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network and will carry the game as usual.Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide his own unique brand of sound effects, grunts, singing and other colorful color analysis.
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Last Week Recap:
The Patriots’ offense woke up last week scoring more points than in weeks one and two combined; however, despite piling up 447 yards of total offense, four more turnovers (for a total of eight through three games) sunk the Patriots against the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots ended up giving up 23 second-half points and lost 37-26.
Even worse, quarterback Mac Jones suffered a high ankle sprain at the end of the game and will be out for an extended period of time. Three interceptions by Jones overshadowed some dynamic downfield passing as DeVante Parker finally looked like a top wide receiver as he piled up 156 yards on just five receptions (all statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted).
On the ground, the duo of Rhamondre Stevenson (73 yards on just 12 rushes) and Damien Harris (41 yards on 11 carries) each scored a touchdown and actually had New England in the lead early in the third quarter before the wheels came off on both sides of the ball.
Playing in the Battle of the Bays versus Tom Brady and the Tampa Buccaneers (Tampa Bay is a body of water, not a location. They play in the city of Tampa, not in a body of water. Green Bay is the name of the city. They should be called the Tampa Buccaneers. It’s ridiculous to call them “Tampa Bay” and I refuse.) the defense carried the day for Green Bay as the offense struggled and they barely held on for a 14-12 win.
The Green Bay defense had to stop Tampa on a two-point conversion try to stop the game from going into overtime. Green Bay completely nullified Leonard Fournette and the Tampa rushing attack, holding them to a total of 34 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
Tampa was without most of their top receivers, but with three sacks combined by Clark and Gary, Tampa did not have a comfortable time passing the ball either. Tampa wisely spread the field and only threw twice towards starters Jaire Alexander (six snaps before leaving with a groin injury) and 2021 first round draft pick Eric Stokes and instead attacked Rasul Douglas and Keisean Nixon in coverage.
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Patriots Offense vs Packers’ Defense:
New England is an entirely different offense with Mac Jones out and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. New England needs to get the running game going early and often. While Tampa could not move the ball on the ground at all last week, Minnesota and Chicago had success moving the ball on the ground in the first two weeks of the season.
A key will be getting into third-and-short situations for Hoyer and the running game. The Packers have the top third-down defense in the league with just seven conversions allowed in three games (allowing just 22.6%).
Under Mac Jones, the Patriots were eighth in the NFL through three games converting 43% of their third downs. How they perform on third down with Hoyer at quarterback will be important for the offense on Sunday afternoon.
Three Matchups to Watch:
Devante Parker vs Eric Stokes
With Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander unlikely to play with a groin injury, Green Bay will likely have cornerback Eric Stokes covering DeVante Parker after Parker’s big performance last week.
Without Alexander, slot cornerback Rasul Douglas (who allowed five receptions in the first two weeks combined) was forced to move outside and picked on by Tampa allowing eight receptions on 11 targets. Keisean Nixon, who had played one snap on defense in the first two weeks, was pressed into service in the slot and gave up nine receptions being targeted a dozen times.
Stokes had a great rookie season last year (allowed a 71.3 passer rating in 16 games and less than 50% completion percentage despite being targeted frequently with Alexander on the other side. He’s allowed just one touchdown in 2022 and six receptions in three games.
At six-foot and 194 lbs, it is a tough match-up against Parker for Stokes. At six-foot-three and 220 lbs. Parker should have the physical advantage against any Green Bay cornerback . Parker had just one reception for nine yards on four targets (with two interceptions) in the first two weeks before breaking out last week getting 31.2 yards per catch.
Without Jones, Parker will have to use his physical advantage to help Hoyer and pace the offense this week.
Rhamondre Stevenson vs De’Vondre Campbell
After four years in Atlanta and one season in the desert with the Cardinals, Green Bay picked up the linebacker for just $2 million last season. All Campbell did was lead the team in tackles and with his outstanding pass coverage earned first team All-Pro honors. Green Bay quickly locked him up this offseason on a five year, $50 million contract.
Campbell is one of the few linebackers trusted to cover running backs, tight ends and even slot receivers on occasion. Without a designated third-down running back with the retirement of James White and Brandon Bolden off to Las Vegas, Rhamondre Stevenson has stepped up.
Stevenson had four receptions for 28 yards last week and will likely be the top receiving back again this week. Bringing a strong running game, Stevenson can do more by becoming a weapon in the passing game. With the Green Bay pass rush and strong secondary, the Patriots will need Stevenson to be a key cog to help out Hoyer under pressure.
With the Tampa short passing game, Campbell was in the middle of the action in the passing game last week. Campbell finished with 14 tackes and was the closest man in coverage of 16 pass attempts. Stevenson will need to win some one-on-one battles with Campbell to help out the offense and Hoyer in the passing game.
Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn vs Rashan Gary and Preston Smith
The New England tackles have been good, but not great, through three games. Too many penalties. Missed assignments led to a big strip-sack against Miami in week one. Too much pressure forced the quarterback to get rid of the ball early.
This week, the backup tackle Yodny Cajuste is already out, so Brown and Wynn have extra pressure to perform and stay on the field with no safety net behind them. With Mac Jones out and top wide receiver Jakobi Meyers not playing, Brown and Wynn absolutely must give Brian Hoyer time to make plays with a clean pocket.
Rashan Gary was drafted 12th overall in the 2019 NFL draft out of Michigan and has slowly improved each season. After just seven sacks in his first two seasons he exploded for 9.5 last year. So far in 2022, he has had a sack in each of the three games.
Green Bay swiped Preston Smith in free agency before the 2019 season after the former second-round draft pick by Washington. While many questioned the four-year $52 million contract signed in 2019, Smith earned every penny. This offseason, Green Bay rewarded him with a new four-year $52 million extension after he had 25 sacks in his first three seasons as a Packer.
Patriots Score Prediction:
Green Bay 16 – New England 6
Hoyer the Destroyer has mostly destroyed his team’s chances of winning the game with eleven consecutive losses as a starter. Can he break the streak this week?
Sorry, not seeing it happen. This is an elite defense in Green Bay that just frustrated and shut down Tom Brady. They allowed less than 50 yards passing against Chicago after struggles in week one against Minnesota.
Green Bay can defend the pass and stuff the run. That’s a tough combination for an offense just starting to play better turning to a journeyman quarterback.
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