Game Overview ::
By mike jOHNSON >>
- This game is one of three on the Week 12 main slate with an over/under below 35 points.
- “Bill Belichick after a bye week” has been extremely good over the course of his career and he notoriously makes life difficult for young quarterbacks.
- New England is playing things close to the vest this week on who will be their starting quarterback.
- Rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito had a “breakout” game against the Commanders struggling defense in Week 11 but should get a far different test from the Patriots.
- Saquon Barkley was the offensive engine for the Giants offense in Week 11 and his expanded role in the passing game was a huge key to their breakthrough.
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How new england Will Try To Win ::
The Patriots enter Week 12 with the worst record (2-8) they have had in over two decades. That season was the 2000 season, which was Bill Belichick’s first year as the Patriots head coach. New England actually finished that campaign somewhat strong, posting a 3-3 record over the final six weeks to finish the season at 5-11. It will be interesting to see how New England handles the rest of this season, as it is clearly out of playoff contention. It appears Mac Jones is definitely not their quarterback of the future, and the 2024 draft class is full of highly touted quarterback prospects. I know it feels like that is the case every year, but 2024 appears to truly have a couple of top-notch options at the position and several other players with very good profiles as well. The Patriots are a proud organization that prides itself on always competing and executing at a high level, so we are unlikely to see them give anything but their best on Sundays in terms of effort and play calling. That being said, their current quarterback situation is up in the air, considering Bill Belichick has not named a starter and it has been quiet out of the organization thus far about what will happen Sunday.
The Patriots face a Giants team that appears to have already “hit bottom” and bounced back last week against the Commanders. The Giants defense has had an up and down season but has held its opponents below 20 points in four of their last six games. New England ranks 25th in the NFL in Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE) but leads the league in raw pace of play, averaging only 26.5 seconds per snap. The Patriots have tried to use tempo to jump start the offense this season, to no avail. The biggest issue they have had is, quite frankly, a lack of physical talent and playmakers that would spread out a defense and stress them in various parts of the field. Opponents have been able to “squat” on New England’s scheme and crowd the short areas of the field with little worries about deep/ speed threats darting past them. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott have not performed terribly this season, but neither is the type of player with burst that breaks off chunk plays without a lot of space. Space is hard to find when your receiving corps lacks any consistent downfield threats and your quarterback does not have a very strong or accurate downfield arm. The cherry on top is PFF’s 27th-ranked pass blocking offensive line, which has been overwhelmed multiple times this season.
This all brings us back to the quarterback discussion. The Patriots could go back to Mac Jones and hope to just “win ugly”, although reports of the locker room losing faith in him and Belichick’s lack of commitment seem to make that tough to envision. Bailey Zappe has operated as the team’s top backup and replaced Jones late in their last game. Zappe performed well in a couple of starts in 2022, but he is objectively very similar to Jones from a skill-set standpoint and probably gives them a worse chance of winning this week while also not really having any chance of being their answer for the future. Behind Door #3 lies an interesting option with Will Grier. After some pre-draft hype in 2019, Grier fell to the third round of the draft, where he went to the Panthers. He looked bad in his early career starts, but he appears to have made strides and impressed this preseason. Grier has always had a lot of arm talent, and if his mind is in the right place and his understanding of the game has grown, he is probably the best option for the Patriots at this point with a small but real chance of him turning into a legitimate NFL QB. The Patriots offense will likely lean heavily on the run and once again use an elevated tempo to mask deficiencies regardless of who is at quarterback. Ultimately, the priority will be on ball control and field position as they hope to “out-execute” the Giants and win with their defense. If it is Jones or Zappe at QB, expect a similar play-calling approach to what we have seen all season. If it is Grier, the range of outcomes opens up a bit and we should expect a bit more aggressiveness downfield and some wider running lanes for the backs.