The New England Patriots open the season with a daunting challenge: shut down the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.
You would be hard-pressed to find two teams who had more dissimilar 2022 seasons than the Patriots and Eagles.
For New England, it felt like nothing could possibly go right on offense. Experimenting with Matt Patricia as the offensive play-caller was an epic disaster, leading to ill-advised check-downs and laughable mistakes. Mac Jones struggled to show progress in his second season, taking baby steps forward but then negating them with a leap backward. Even running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who emerged as the team’s top offensive playmaker, found himself in the doghouse due to fumbling problems.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, cruised through the season and dominated its way into the Super Bowl. Jalen Hurts showed that he can do pretty much anything: sneak, scramble, pass. You name it, he can do it. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith formed an unstoppable wide receiver duo that is one of the scariest one-two punches in football. The offensive line played at an elite level, producing three Pro Bowlers, while the defensive line was equally relentless.
Now, these two teams will meet in Week 1 of the 2023 season, both looking to set the tone for the 16 games to follow.
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Date: Sunday, Sept. 10
Start time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: Foxborough, Mass.
Stadium: Gillette Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Odds courtesy of DraftKings.
Point Spread: PHI -4 (-110) | NE +4 (-110)
Moneyline: PHI (-198), NYG (+164)
Over/Under: O/U 45 (-110)
Philadelphia is certainly favored, though not so much that a Patriots win would be an insane outcome. In fact, Vegas seems to think we could have a close, relatively high-scoring game on our hands, setting the spread at four (in Philadelphia’s favor) and the total at 45. Given how both teams like to run the football and therefore drain the clock, betting “under” 45 might not be a bad idea.
What To Watch For
This is a make-or-break year for Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense. The unit welcomed a variety of weapons this offseason, including Ezekiel Elliott, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Mike Gesicki. With that said, perhaps no addition was bigger than the hiring of Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator. One of the most respected offensive minds in the industry, O’Brien might be the secret ingredient to the Patriots’ ability to out-perform the Eagles’ defense.
For Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts‘ football IQ will be tested. Bill Belichick-led defenses can be nasty and deceptive, and the New England secondary can be sneaky good. One of the Patriots’ weaknesses last year was biting when a quarterback scrambled, which pulled a defender to the quarterback and left a receiver open. Hurts can beat the Patriots if he thinks one step ahead of their defenders and relies on his mobility often.
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