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Out with the old, in with the new for Patriots

Out with the old, in with the new.

You could say that for the New England Patriots personnel – hello N’Keal Harry and Nick Folk, bye-bye Josh Gordon and Mike Nugent.

Hello more decent competition, buh-bye literal pushovers.

It’s the second half of the NFL season, no trades, maybe a waiver pickup here or there (wonder who will take Gordon?), and as November arrives, the anticipation for the playoffs begins.

But first, an interesting Sunday night awaits. The Patriots will face a Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson, that is pretty much a new experience. A runner first and a passer second, but with a powerful arm that you have to respect it. Baltimore has somehow made it work over the better part of two seasons.

“I’ve never seen a player like this at the quarterback position,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “If he was just a runner, then you would change your game plan and not worry about the pass. If he was just a passer, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal to try to make sure you keep him in the pocket. But I think his ability to do both things at such a high level that makes him tough.”

Should be a fun Sunday Night Football event.

Patriot fans should really, really cherish this time. Word broke on Friday that Sam Janiovich, their former CEO from the Victor Kiam ownership era, passed away. He certainly wasn’t beloved and lasted two years, the team going 6-10 and 2-14. It was a precursor to the winds of many changes in Foxborough. Changes for the better.

But don’t expect things to change too much this week. Here’s a look:

PATRIOTS 27, RAVENS 17

Yes, this could be a competitive game, even tight for awhile, but it won’t be as close as you think. The Patriots will likley dial up a defense that can limit Jackson, confuse him, force him into turnovers, take advantages of the weaknesses in Baltimore’s defense, and roll into the bye on a good note. The number of challengers to the unbeaten season are dwindling.

COLTS 23, STEELERS 20

This could be a good one. The Colts seem to have a flair for the dramatic, and as we saw in the Denver game last week, never a lock. Just think, this summer we would’ve said it’s a great QB matchup between Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. Now,it’s Jacoby Brissett and Mason Rudolph. Perhaps another Adam Vinatieri kick for the winner.

TEXANS 24, JAGUARS 17

Ah, another venture to London for a 9:30 a.m.game. The venue isn’t a factor, but Deshaun Watson will be. Houston took another injury hit in losing J.J. Watt, but Watson & Co. prevail over what looks like a .500 Jaguar team.

EAGLES 17, BEARS 13

Da Bears are a mess right now, near the point when they may give up on QB Mitch Trubisky, whose confidence seems to be shot. The Eagles showed a lot last Sunday, and every game for them is critical as it looks like the only way they’d make the playoffs is by winning the NFC East.

COWBOYS 30, GIANTS 17

The Eagles won’t get any help from the G-Men, who defensively are just plain bad. Offensively they have a pulse but barely. See Ezekiel Elliott. See Ezekiel Elliott run wild. See America hit the remote Monday night midway throuh the third quarter.

VIKINGS 24, CHIEFS 17

Another old time Super Bowl rematch, and another tough one for the Pat Mahomes-less Chiefs and the legend of Kirk Cousins continues. The Vikings are looking like a playoff team, in a divisional race with the Packers, who left Arrowhead with a big Sunday night win because the KC defense didn’t do its part when it counted, They won’t again in this Sunday at 1 contest, and they need to because a Matt Moore QB offense isn’t going to outscore you.

PACKERS 30, CHARGERS 13

Something’s missing with the Should-Be-In-San Diego Chargers. They don’t have the same spunk that took them to the playoffs last year, and Green Bay just continues to roll. And roll Sunday they shall in a small soccer stadium in L.A.

LAST WEEK: 6-1

SEASON: 38-19

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).