Week 3 Preview: New England Patriots at Detroit Lions

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The New England Patriots will be looking to make a statement this week against former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and his Detriot Lions.

After last Sunday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it offered a harsh of reality that this Patriots team is vulnerable on both sides of the ball. The defense struggled covering crossing drag routes which led to quarterback Blake Bortles looking like the second coming of Joe Montana.

The offense couldn’t get anything going within the passing game on a consistent basis in the first half. A part of this is due to a strong Jaguars defense, but another factor has to be the limited number of weapons that quarterback Tom Brady has at his disposal.

The Patriots made an effort to bolster their receiving corps, as they agreed to a trade with the Cleveland Browns for troubled wideout Josh Gordon. The talent has always been there with the former Baylor product, it’s just a matter of if he can stay on the field. Reports from this week have stated that he did not do much with the offense at practice and is listed on the injury report as questionable with a hamstring injury. Don’t be surprised if New England decides not to play him on Sunday night to give him an additional week to get a better grasp on the playbook.

If Gordon cannot make it on the field, the onus will once again fall on Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski to carry the load offensively. Chris Hogan showed signs of life last week with two touchdowns, albeit one in garbage time, and he will need a similar showing this week. The saving grace is that Detroit’s top cornerback in Darius Slay is doubtful to play. With Slay most likely sidelined, it should open things up for the likes of Phillip Dorsett, Cordarelle Patterson, Hogan, and Gronkowski.

Meanwhile, the defense will be a bit shorthanded, with top defensive lineman Trey Flowers and reliable safety Patrick Chung both doubtful with concussions. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has not been seeing the field well so far in two games, as the veteran threw four interceptions in the opening two games. The Patriots need to take advantage of a less than stellar Detroit offensive line.

Stafford also has a plethora of options offensively, as wide receivers Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay present matchup problems. If anyone knows how to get the better of the Patriots defense, it will be Patricia. Since the NFL is a copycat league, Detroit could try and utilize the speed of their wideouts as well as the versatility in running back Theo Riddick to run crossing routes. Expect the Patriots to play more zone to try and combat this.

The contest should bring a lot of firepower, as both teams will be looking to get back on track after losing. Patricia is antsy to pick up his first win as a head coach in the Motor City, while Bill Belichick will be eager to see how his team responds from a poor performance the week prior.


Follow O'Callaghan on Twitter: @JOCallaghan_ENT

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