15 Things To Look For In The Final Patriots Preseason Game
The New England Patriots play their final preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium at 6pm Sunday night. There are many things to look for in both teams final tune-up before the regular season. Here’s just 15 things you should be looking for:
- Does Cam Newton start this game?
All signs point to Cam Newton starting this game. After missing most of practice this week due to COVID-19 protocols, Newton slid right back into place getting 1st team reps once he came back. Bill Belichick put his full faith in Cam last year and it seems he is being loyal to him this season as well. I want to see Newton start as well because I believe he totally earned it after his last preseason start.
2. How mobile will Mac Jones be in this game?
Not much worry has been put into Mac Jones putting a knee brace on recently. He said it was for precautionary reasons and I’ll take his word for it. However, let’s see how active Jones is in moving around in the pocket. We all know he has a decent arm, but I want to see if he can move accurately and efficiently.
3. Who is the Patriots “lead” running back following the Sony Michel trade?
The player who should assume lead running back role is Damien Harris. With only 137 rushing attempts last season, 691 yards, and 2 touchdowns, Harris was exceptional in his limited opportunity. He’s done nothing to lose faith in him this preseason and look for Harris to get the majority of carries in the game. The Patriots do have a deep running back room but hopefully the team has as much faith in Harris as I do.
4. Does Matthew Judon play in this game?
Matthew Judon has already done enough to be able to take this game off. I wouldn’t risk injury by playing him this game. The Patriots need Judon fresh and available for all 17 regular season games this year. Not just because he is currently our highest paid player but also he could make the biggest non-QB impact on the team.
5. How does Shaun Wade play in this game?
The Patriots acquired cornerback Shaun Wade this week from the Baltimore Ravens. At 6’1, Wade has good size for a cornerback but was not going to make the Ravens 53 man roster by all accounts. Wade was drafted in the 5th round in 2021 and gives the Patriots depth at the position (if Stephon Gilmore gets traded.)
6. How does Jalen Mills’ coverage look?
With Stephon Gilmore sitting out, Mills has bumped up as the number two cornerback behind JC Jackson. His coverage has been shaky in both games this preseason and I don’t think Mills is ready for this role. Keep a special eye on Mills against the Giants to make sure he is not getting burned up and down the field. This would not bode well after picking him up in the offseason on a 4 year, 24 million dollar deal.
7. What is Chase Winovich’s impact?
For a player with a very high ceiling, Winovich seems to be buried behind all the current Patriots front seven talent. From what I’ve seen in both preseason games, he’s played well and is probably worthy of more snaps going forward. Some people think all he cares about is his hair and weird conspiracy theories but I think this kid can play.
8. Which Patriots tight ends play against the Giants?
Top Tight end Hunter Henry has been battling injuries and Jonnu Smith has been getting limited action. Ideally, both of these guys get significant time in this game but that remains to be seen. The Patriots are going to need a significant impact from both Henry and Smith if they plan to make the playoffs this season.
9. How is the defensive coverage on Saquon Barkley?
If you know football, you know Saquon is a beast when healthy. Barkley has been battling a knee injury lately and has apparently taken a step back. If he plays, the Patriots will need to make him a marked man because he is the best Giants player on the roster. Team defense is necessary against a man like that.
(Editor’s note: Barkley has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. That information was unavailable at press time. Probably. )
10. Will any Giants wide receiver threaten JC Jackson?
It’s official- Giants top wide receiver Kenny Golladay will not play this Sunday. This means the Giants will be down to 2nd and 3rd stringers against JC Jackson which isn’t gonna cut it. Look for Jackson to shut down any man who crosses his path.
11. How early do both teams starters come out?
Now that there’s no longer a 4th preseason game, will this game be treated as most 3rd preseason games do? Most 3rd preseason games the starters play the longest time because they knew the scrubs would be in the 4th game. Things have changed with 17 games now in the regular season but I think the coaches will still play this game very hard. Look for the starters to be in at least until the 2nd half is over.
12. How does the Giants offense look?
With Golladay out and an injured Barkley, the rest of the Giants offense doesn’t have much to write home about. I don’t expect them to perform well against the Patriots on Sunday night. We’ll get to their quarterback later on but look for the Pats to absolutely smother this Giants offense.
13. Will JJ Taylor shine in all facets of the game?
A lot of folks are high on JJ Taylor as am I, but can he shine in this game as well? Taylor should get a great opportunity in the backfield and special teams which allows him to show his speed and grit. As much as the Giants offense sucks, so too does their defense so expect Taylor to go off in this game.
14. Does Gunner Olszewski shine in an upgraded role?
Gunner Olszewski is a player who needs to have a big impact in this game. I’m not sure if he’s going to be a part of the roster but he needs a good game to solidify his role. Gunner can play WR and play a role on special teams so look for him early and often.
15. Who has the better Jones?
At some point New England Patriot Mac Jones should square off against lackluster New York Giants starter Daniel Jones. Daniel Jones has been with the Giants for two seasons and had a decent first season but took a step back in 2020. I think time will tell that the better Jones is in New England even though Mac has never played a regular season snap yet.
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