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Patriots Analysis: For a Wednesday, Sunday wasn’t greatest

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Nov 28, 2022

Mac Jones had his best game of the season against the Vikings this past Thursday, and the Patriots will need more of the same this Thursday vs. Buffalo. (AP photon)

Today was Wednesday in the current world of the New England Patriots, with their first regular practice in preparation for their Thursday night game vs. Buffalo at Gillette Stadium.

We imagine all went well, even though head coach Bill Belichick chose to wear shorts outside in late November.

But as a Sunday, when the rest of the NFL was on the playing field, it didn’t go to well for New England.

That’s because the New York Jets, Cincinnati, and even the L.A. Chargers all won, and that was bad news for the Patriots. Those are all teams in the mix for the playoffs, and two of them are ahead of New England, which is on the outside looking in, and the Chargers kept themselves in decent position also at 6-5 with New England.

All that means is the same thing the Patriots always preach: The next game is the biggest game. They just need to win that next game so they don’t fall further behind.

“The season’s not over,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said after the loss to the Vikings Thanksgiving night. “We just have to find a way to win. That’s how it is this time of year. … From now to the rest of the season, every game’s huge. We say it all the time, football in November and December. And that’s what it is. We’ve got a lot of teams left on our schedule that have a chance. When teams have a chance, they’ll give you their best shot.”

The Patriots, meanwhile, are about to play in their third game in 12 days, and one wonders what impact that will have. But the Bills are in the same boat.

“They’re working through it, yeah,” Belichick said yesterday of his team. “I think we have that many players that, a couple of guys we’ll see where they’re at. Most everybody else will be ready to go.

“It’s the end of November, it’s the start of December so everybody’s been banged up at this point in the year in the National Football League. That’s what this league is.”

Indeed, what this league is is the ultimate Survival of the Fittest. The Patriots are a little banged up, but they have a real chance to set a tone for the rest of the season on Thursday. Buffalo will not have vaunted pass rusher Von Miller, and quarterback Josh Allen is still working through his elbow injury, although it certainly didn’t bother him in his 23 second game-winning drive vs. Detroit.

Of course, everybody remembers what Allen did to the Patriots last January in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The Bills have not had to punt the last two times they’ve played New England, including a 33-21 win at Gillette Stadium last Dec. 26. And in their 47-17 playoff win, they were perfect offensively, touchdowns in every drive except the kneel downs.

One would think the Patriots need to put all that out of their minds on Thursday, but will they? No, because Belichick will harp on that to motivate his team. You can bet on that.

“Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity,” Patriots quarterback Mac Jones said Sunday. “Like I said, they’re playing as good as anybody in the NFL right now. Last year is last year, but at the same time we know what happened and we’ve got to come in here and and work and kind of work through it all and go out there and compete.

“That’s what it’s all about and then see where we’re at. It’s a good defense. Like I always say, we’re going against their defense, and they provide that challenge better than anybody we’ve played so far, so hat’s off to them. They’ve done a great job, so we’ve got to be ready to go.”

But Jones and the Patriots offense could be under pressure to match points. They have to ignore that fear and simply go out and execute.

“It’s always hard, you don’t want to look at the scoreboard, but at the same time you want to win the game and have more points,” Jones said. “For me, it’s always been trying to focus on stacking up good plays and I know our offense is trying to that and then the points will come.”

The heat is off Jones a little bit as he played his best game of the season vs. the Vikings. However, he was facing one of the worst secondaries in the league in the Vikes, and the Patriots still have big problems on third down and in the red zone. They’re pretty bad at both.

The blind spot many have in watching what the Bills did to them last year in the playoffs is they couldn’t match points. Fans, your defense was exposed. This year it is younger, faster, and Matt Judon is healthy when he just didn’t seem himself down the stretch last season. But when Judon gets slowed, opposing quarterbacks can pick their spots a lot better. The Patriots are facing a team for the second straight week with top-flight receivers.

New England has enough offensive talent to score. They just have to make sure their defense keeps them in it to make those points count.

Because these games certainly do. Happy Thursday even though it’s Monday. Confused? The Patriots likely won’t be.



1.Kansas City (9-2). 2. Buffalo (8-3). 3. Cincinnati (7-4). 4.Tennessee (7-4). 5. Miami (8-3).


1.Philadelphia (10-1). 2. Dallas (8-4). 3. Minnesota (9-2). 4.San Francisco (7-4). 5. Washington (6-5).


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