Tag Archives: Ezekiel Elliot

Patriots vs. Eagles Preview

The 2023 season kicks off with the Patriots hosting the defending NFC Champs the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles enter the season with realistic expectations of a championship, while the Patriots are trying to reclaim their previous status as perennial contenders. It’ll be the first glimpse of the Bill O’Brien/Mac Jones offense and a chance to see how the Patriots’ multitude of tweeners all fit together on defense.

Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Series Record

Eagles: 8 wins (including Super Bowl LII); Patriots: 7 wins (including Super Bowl XXXIX)

Patriots Offense vs. Eagles Defense

For the Patriots to be successful this year, the offense needs to return to the efficient model utilized in the early 2000s. They do not need to be a high-flying affair, but rather a competent and consistent offense. The defense will be good enough to keep this team in most, if not all, games, and the offense needs to keep from being the reason the team loses.

This game will be determined up front. The Eagles boast a ridiculously deep front seven littered with high-end pass rushers. The Patriots’ offensive line should be solid at four out of five positions at some point this season; unfortunately, it might not be game one. The Pats have dealt with a slew of injuries across the offensive line throughout the preseason. The lack of continuity and practice time may be apparent against the Eagles front.

A positive? The Eagles were among the bottom of the league in running games and stunts up front with their defensive line. If the Pats are going to be successful, it will be because of the big hogs winning their one-on-one match-ups.

The Patriots will need to lean on their running game to keep the offense on schedule and to keep the Eagles offense off the field. This game should feature a lot of Rhamondre Stevenson, while also giving Ezekiel Elliott a healthy workload in his Patriots debut. The Patriots may try to take advantage of the interior of the Eagles ‘defense with a steady dose of power and dive runs.

The Patriots may not find a lot of success passing to the boundaries, as the Eagles return stalwart corners James Bradberry and Darius Slay. Mac Jones should be able to find success in the middle of the field against a reworked safety duo. Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki should be in for a busy day.  

Patriots Defense vs. Eagle Offense

The Eagles return a majority of starters from a top offense a year ago. They feature depth and talent up front, as well as a top-three wide-receiver duo. The quarterback is one of the best in the league. Their backfield took a hit after Miles Sanders left after a career year. The Patriots defense will have to be the strength of this team, and they will be tested immediately in week one.

The Patriots must pick and choose their spots to be aggressive against this Eagles offense. Sending extra defenders to rush the quarterback will leave the defensive backs manned up against a talented receiving corps. The Patriots lost a sticky cover man in Jack Jones this week. Jonathan Jones and rookie Christian Gonzalez face a challenge as the top corners against A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. The Patriots can get away with intermittent man coverage calls, but can’t make a habit of it on Sunday.

The Patriots should be able to find success if they can get Jalen Hurts to throw while on the run. Hurts’ numbers last year while scrambling were below average. The key is to limit his ability to turn a scramble into a long gain on the ground. The Patriots should focus on sending interior pressure while keeping an athletic body on Hurts as a QB spy. The Pats can use the likes of Mack Wilson, Marte Mapu, Adiran Phillips, Jabrill Peppers, and Kyle Dugger as QB spies, while also giving multiple looks from different personnel groupings.

Special Teams

The Patriots will roll out rookies at both kicker and punter this year. Both Chase Ryland and Bryce Baringer feature booming legs, but may struggle with consistency early in their careers. Baringer can help the Patriots win the field position game even when punting from deep in his own territory. The Patriots reloaded the roster with special teams stalwarts after a down year in the game’s third phase. The Eagles have a steady kicker in Jake Elliott, but should not have an edge elsewhere on special teams.


The Patriots will need to play a very smart and efficient game on both sides of the ball to win the season opener. On a day when New England will be celebrating the legacy of The Goat, its fans may be left wishing for his presence on the field again. The Eagles will be able to harass Jones as the offensive line tries to find its footing.

The key to the game will be in the turnover battle. New England will need to steal a few possessions if they want to win this game. The Patriots will be able to keep up with the Eagles otherwise. Expect the Patriots to keep it close in the first half before the Eagles pull away late. Eagles win 28-20.

Speaking of Tom, how lucky were we!? Congrats GOAT. You deserve it.

Patriots Roster Breakdown: Offense

The NFL season is right around the corner, with the Patriots kicking things off a little less than a week from today. The summer was full of competitions, additions, and subtractions throughout the roster. Cutdown day featured a number of surprises, as well as a few late additions. We’ll look at each player on the Patriots 53 man roster, with this article focused on the offense.

New England Patriots Roster: Offense

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images


Mac Jones

Entering a make-or-break third year, Mac Jones will finally have the support of a real offensive coordinator behind him. Last year was marred with injury and inefficient play calling — and play making. He needs this to be his best season yet; the expectation is it will be. The Patriots aren’t looking for monster numbers from him, but consistent and smart play will go a long way with this team.

Matt Corral

The Patriots added Corral two days after the initial cuts. Since he was claimed off waivers from Carolina, he immediately became part of the active roster. Corral was a highly touted prospect coming out of Ole Miss last year, but injuries and off-the-field concerns dropped his draft stock. It makes sense for the Patriots to take a flyer on a recent top prospect with high-end talent.


Rhamondre Stevenson

Stevenson had a breakout year in 2022, but it was apparent he was wearing down at the end of the year. The Patriots view him as a do-everything feature back. He will be heavily used in the New England offense.

Ezekiel Elliott

Zeke Elliott was added late in training camp after both second-year backs failed to provide any competition. He will bring a confident swagger to the locker room and a competitive attitude to gameday. He’s no longer the game-breaker he was a few years ago, but will be efficient in all aspects of the game while spelling Stevenson.


Hunter Henry

Henry has proven to be Mac’s go-to guy on offense the last two years. His production took a dip last year (whose didn’t in that offense?), but should bounce back in a big way, as new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien utilizes more 12 personnel. Henry should return as a red zone monster in 2023.

Mike Gesicki

Gesicki is the counter-punch to Henry in 12 personnel. He fits as the athletic receiving type in the dual TE offense. Gesicki was putting together a nice career in Miami before a massively underwhelming 2022 campaign in Mike McDaniel’s offense. He will be another Mac favorite if he can stay on the field.


Kendrick Bourne

Bourne was in Patricia’s dog house last year, but when he did play, he produced at an impressive clip. Possibly New England’s most explosive receiver, he has put together a fantastic summer and should put up career numbers in a very important contract year.

Devante Parker

Parker has always shown flashes of a dominant jump-ball receiver; his problem has always been his ability to stay healthy. When Parker is on the field, he will provide a high-end boundary target in the offense, with jump ball ability in the red zone. Parker is a potential highlight every time he’s on the field.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Patriot Nation is notorious for begging for “weaponzzzzzzz” every offseason. Smith-Schuster is the least talked about receiver this year after being added in free agency. Smith-Schuster will do a lot of work between the numbers, and do most of his damage after the catch.

Demario Douglas

His draft mate, Kayshon Boutte, grabbed more headlines during the draft and throughout the summer, but it was Douglas who immediately cemented his status as a starter in the offense. Douglas received veteran treatment throughout the preseason, and teammates have huge expectations for him headed into his rookie campaign. He has a great chance at being the next in a long line of productive slot receivers in New England.

Kayshon Boutte

Once heralded as a surefire first-round pick, Boutte fell to the sixth round due to injury and off-field concerns. He was a bit of a slow burner this summer before becoming white-hot the last two weeks of training camp. The Patriots valued him enough to keep six wide receivers on the initial roster and go thin at other positions rather than chance him on waivers. Boutte may be a frequent gameday inactive before catching a case of the Foxboro Flu to give him a redshirt season in the pros.


David Andrews

How the line performs will determine how the offense performs. How the line performs all starts in the middle with captain David Andrews. Andrews has struggled with injury and medical scares the last couple of seasons, prompting the Patriots to draft his eventual replacement in April. As long as he is on the field, he will provide consistent, high-level play.  

Trent Brown

Perhaps the Patriots’ most enigmatic lineman, Brown, has a chance to be an All-Pro or benched at any time. When he is motivated, there aren’t many linemen better than him. Unfortunately, there has been some difficulty keeping him motivated for the last two years. Brown is in the final year of his contract and may be motivated to try to find one last big payday.

Mike Onwenu

Onwenu has been the Patriots’ best offensive lineman since he entered the league in 2020. Onwenu had ankle surgery late in the offseason, making his status for the start of the season a question. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Patriots eased him back in since he missed all of training camp.

Cole Strange

The Patriots first-round pick last year was a surprise to some. Strange was streaky last year, but would go a long way to stabilizing the line with more consistent play. Unfortunately, Strange was injured on the first padded practice of training camp and just returned to practice last week. He may be eased in, as well.

Calvin Anderson

Anderson signed with the Patriots after playing with the Broncos last season. He was a capable swing tackle, but seemed to struggle as a full-time starter. Anderson was putting together a strong spring before a mysterious illness kept him out of team activities until last week. His status is uncertain heading into the season. The team hasn’t placed him on the PUP or NFI list, but it may be unrealistic to expect him to play immediately.

Jake Andrews

The heir apparent at center, Andrews was drafted in the fourth round out of Troy. Andrews provides an athletic presence at center. The team would prefer Andrews develop for a year or two before letting him take over the center of the line.

Vederian Lowe

The Patriots acquired Lowe from the Vikings prior to cutdown day. Lowe was a sixth-round pick by the Vikings in 2022. During his rookie year he appeared in four games, primarily at left tackle. He is an athletic tackle who should slide in as the Patriots swing tackle.

Atonio Mafi

Mafi enters the league with the Patriots after being taken in the fifth round out of UCLA. Mafi is a mauler at right guard who would be fun to be see get a carry or two at the goal line.

Riley Reiff

The Pats brought Reiff aboard in hopes he’d be a band-aid at right tackle for this season. Unfortunately, Reiff has played below expectations and was subsequently moved inside to guard. He adds a veteran presence in the room, but shouldn’t see much time unless injuries decimate the depth chart.

Sidy Sow

Sow was taken a round ahead of Mafi and also played guard throughout his college career. During training camp, the team slid him out wide, where he has primarily stayed at tackle. Sow has a lot of strength at the point of attack, but is still learning to recognize certain schemed pass rushes. Sow very well could develop into a solid pro, but should only see spot duty this year.

Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

Wheatley was acquired from Cleveland for second-year running back Pierre Strong the same day the Pats acquired Lowe from the Vikings. Wheatley went undrafted in 2020 and spent the next two years playing in The Spring League and bouncing around practice squads before finding a home with the Browns. He doesn’t have much NFL experience, but was putting together an extremely strong preseason in Cleveland. The Pats will hope he develops into a solid swing tackle.

New England Patriots vs Dallas Cowboys Preview

New England Patriots
(Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The New England Patriots’ victory against the Texans was U-G-L-Y. While fans were not impressed, players and coaches were impressed with the team’s effort to fight through adversity. While it wasn’t a dominant effort, these ugly wins sometimes provide momentum. Case in point? 2001, Week 5. Patriots are 1-3 coming into the game and trail by 10 in the fourth quarter. A certain young QB threw his first career touchdown pass before the Pats won the game in overtime, 29-26.

This year? Pats are 1-3 entering week 5, trail by seven entering the fourth quarter, and get the comeback. The league, especially the AFC, is loaded with top-end-talented teams this year; maybe the comeback against Houston gets this team rolling. The Pats have shown to have the talent to lock down the Buccaneers and exhibit incredibly balanced offensive talent; they just need to execute better. If they do, watch out.

They’ll get their first chance to do so this Sunday against a very talented Dallas Cowboys team. Everybody knows the Cowboys tout an extremely talented core of offensive players, but their defense has been stealing headlines throughout the season. While it’s an extremely improved group over last year, their passing defense is surviving on takeaways. New England fans will appreciate that effort but know the dangers in playing that sort of game.

The only difference? Dallas has been truly elite in taking the ball away. Weird stat for this one? The Cowboys won the first seven matchups between these two teams before the Pats ripped off six straight of their own: historical standings head-to-head? 7-6, Cowboys. We’ll dive more into this in the breakdown below. So, without further ado and continuing the “who has the advantage when…” format, the breakdown!

The New England Patriots’ Passing Attack

Two shocking stats about Mac Jones and the Patriots passing game; Mac Jones has more 20+ yard completions than Patrick Mahomes this season and according to PFF, Mac only had two turnover-worthy plays against Houston. That second stat certainly felt like a lot more.

Jones hasn’t been an unstoppable downfield thrower, but he has become an opportunistic downfield shot guy and as long as he stays smart with the ball, the Pats’ offense is in good hands. The biggest complaint is McDaniels conservative playcalling once the Patriots enter the red zone. After his dime of a touchdown throw to Henry on Sunday, hopefully, Mac has shown enough to stop the three consecutive screen calls.

The Cowboys have given up yards in the passing game, ranking 31st in the league in passing yards allowed. However, their ability to get the takeaway is incredible. They have an incredible ten (!!) interceptions through their first five games. CB Trevon Diggs has six of the ten interceptions. It would be wise for Mac to look elsewhere in the passing game.

The good news? Diggs does not often travel into the slot meaning security blankets Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Henry should draw favorable matchups. The Cowboys often engage their opponents in high-scoring affairs and part of that is the plethora of yards they let up through the air.

Advantage: New England Patriots (as long as Mac avoids Diggs on the outside)

The New England Patriots’ Run Game

For how loose the Cowboys are against the pass, they are equally stingy against the runs. The Cowboys feature the fifth-best rushing defense while the Pats boast the sixth-worst rushing offense. While the Cowboys are allowing 4.2 yards per carry, this is not an area the Pats want to have to rely on to win the game.

The offensive line was a pleasant surprise last week and the return of Shaq Mason and Mike Onwenu hopefully means even more success. Ted Karras did a wonderful job standing in at LG against the Texans and perhaps a shuffle might lead to better results for the Patriots’ offense. Sliding Onwenu out to RT where he starred as a rookie and keeping Karras at LG might be the lineup the Pats need to move the ball on the ground while also being sturdy in pass protection.

The Cowboys feature an active LB corps and a stalwart along the defensive line in Demarcus Lawrence. The Pats had a ton of success of play-action against the Texans and should try to establish the run game if only for this reason. Mac has been fantastic off of play-action throughout the season, continuing that aspect of the game will benefit everyone in the Pats offense.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys’ Passing Attack

Before the season most fans would’ve been extremely concerned to hear that Jalen Mills was the key to the pass defense while playing CORNER. Mills’ absence was apparent last week as the Texans picked on Joejuan Williams, eventually forcing slot man Jonathan Jones to play to the boundary. Mills’ return this week is going to be a must for the Pats.

Dallas’ talented WR trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup is a big test. In the last matchup, Stephon Gilmore erased Cooper while JC Jackson mirrored Gallup. They won’t be able to do that this year with Gilmore gone. The Pats should utilize a similar game plan as they did against the Bucs with “cat” coverage across the board. Jackson should draw Cooper, Jones on Lamb, while Mills’ return asks him to cover Gallup. It should be a battle on the outside all game long.

Safety Devin McCourty had an extremely rough game against the Texans and a return to the norm for him will go a long way towards the Pats defense having success on Sunday. The safeties will be involved in limiting the suddenly productive Dalton Schultz at tight end. He has become a security blanket for Prescott, seeing seven or more targets in the last three weeks, hauling in six in each of those contests.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has been fantastic in his return from a brutal ankle injury last year. To have success against him, the Pats must get pressure while also maintaining containment-something they have struggled with this season. Matt Judon continues to be a force on the outside, leading the league in tackles for loss (8), second in sacks (6.5), and sixth in QB hits (10). He’ll need to be at his best for the Pats to be disruptive here.

Rookie DT Christian Barmore is slowly rounding into form, and while his stat line remains quiet, he’s impacting the game elsewhere. He drew two holding penalties last week while facing the second-most double teams in the NFL. Sacks will eventually come for the talented second-rounder. Jamie Collins quickly reacquainted himself to the New England defense getting a sack in one of his three snaps. He should see more action this week.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys (but not by as much as expected)

The Cowboys Run the Ball

This is where the game will be decided. The Cowboys are second in the NFL in rushing yards (864) while the Patriots are 15th against the run. The Patriots run defense comes as a surprise as they’ve been a sieve against the run thus far. The good news? Dont’a Hightower is rounding into form, playing his best game on Sunday. Hightower had five tackles, including four run stuffs. Hightower rounding into his normal disruptive forms will help immensely in steadying this defense down the stretch.

Thumper Ja’Wuan Bentley’s return will also boost the Pats’ run defense but expect to see some matchup utilization out of the Pats’ linebacking corps. With Elliot and his bruising running style on the field, expect Hightower and Bentley to man the middle. When the Cowboys deploy change of pace back Tony Pollard, Van Noy should draw the card and see some playing time.

The Cowboys no longer have All-Pros all along the offensive line but do have a sturdy group that can do the necessary dirty work. The Patriots’ defensive line doesn’t need to blow up every play but they must slow the offensive linemen from getting upfield. If the d-line can keep the linebackers clean, expect the Pats to be stingy.

They must also be disciplined in staying in their run fits to contain Dak and the designed QB runs and from keeping Dak from pulling it on an option read and skirting around the edge. The Pats won’t be able to completely stop the Cowboys running game but must contain it and limit the damage.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

Special Teams

The Cowboys have attempted only four kickoff returns this season, good for second least in the NFL. The Pats should try to take advantage of the lack of experience with a few kickoffs short of the goal line. The same goes for the Cowboys in the punt return game, only attempting five here as well. The Cowboys have struggled in the kicking game going 9/11 in field goals and 17/19 on PAT’s. The Pats would be wise to have the Cowboys going into the open end of the stadium in the fourth quarter in case it comes down to a field goal.

For the Patriots, Nick Folk has been incredibly consistent since joining the Pats last year and has continued to be this year. His four made field goals last week, including two from 50+ earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Folk now joins Stephen Gostowski as the only Patriots kickers to make two 50+ field goals in one game. It was also his third time as a Patriot with four made field goals in a game. And in a “brag about your kicker” kind of way, he’s second in the league in points scored.

Belichick’s affection for special teams is well known and the mismatch here might allow for the Pats to steal a possession or get some very important hidden yards.

Advantage: New England Patriots


The stuff of legends: Mike McCarthy vs. Bill Belichick. Just kidding. McCarthy was scared to answer questions from Boston Media on Wednesday for fear of Belichick gaining valuable information. While McCarthy isn’t a rookie coach, he has been prone to making rookie decisions. His decision-making process for going for two or going for it on fourth down is not based on analytics or old-school football knowledge but more in a “well why not now?” sort of way. As we saw last week, some coaches can’t help but get out of their own way against Belichick. There should be a couple of situations that fall into this category on Sunday.

Advantage: New England Patriots


Despite obvious concerns regarding the New England Patriots, it feels like a “trap game” for Dallas. Essentially, the Pats will do just enough to get an ugly, if not signature win. Mac Jones has been steadily progressing and may be on the verge of putting it all together. Hightower rounding into form with the talent of Judon, Van Noy, and Collins will assist a typical Patriots defense while Belichick shows that the Texans game was a mere blip on the radar (he was honestly extremely proud of the teams’ effort last week, something that hasn’t been making the national media rounds).

A loss on Sunday would drop the Pats to 0-4 at home this season, something that feels unprecedented. The offensive line keeps Mac mostly clean while the defensive game plan reverts to the old bend-but-don’t-break.

Pats win 26-24