Patriots may have to wait awhile for real schedule to begin

Jim Hackett
October 10, 2019 - 10:30 am

Stormy weather is on the horizon for tonight’s game against the New York Giants and that’s about the only interesting factor in this game to breakdown.

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Vegas has the Patriots as 17-point favorites which is kind. The Giants literally limp into Foxboro with injuries to their three best playmakers on offense, including the versatile star running back Saquon Barkley, and their two best field-stretching pass catchers in wide receiver Sterling Shephard and the freakishly athletic tight end Evan Engram. Even Barkley’s back-up Wayne Gallman is out so this is a M.A.S.H. unit coming to Foxboro tonight indeed.

Truth be told, the Giants should have been a 14-point underdog with all those players in tow anyway. Coming into Foxboro on a short week of preparation featuring a rookie quarterback against what could be the most talented and aggressive Bill Belichick defense since his defensive coordinator days with these very same Giants would be reason enough. Then if you factor in what’s happening on the other side of the ball the odds decrease even more. The Giants defense offers the Patriots offense a get well game to be kind. The Giants are an embarrassing sieve on defense and candidly provide the Patriots with yet another pre-season game to work out their own offensive kinks.

It won’t be close, even if the slow and wet track keeps the score closer than Vegas predicts.

The quiet around this undefeated Patriots team on a game day stands alone like none I can recall.

It’s weird. Their incredibly favorable schedule has eased most if not all of the tension and in the wake of the hurricane of noise that was Antonio Brown everything seems increasingly silent. Yes the Patriots need another wide receiver as noted in my article last week, and yes the Ben Watson release and his subsequent interview with OMF yesterday was certainly compelling. However, it’s really all part of the same story isn’t it? That story is all about filling the gap that was first left following Gronk’s retirement and now Antonio Brown’s subsequent and sudden release.

The reality though is that like a Timex this Patriots team will just keep ticking. They should moonwalk to undefeated status until all of the leaves are nearly off the trees in November regardless if that offensive replacement is found or not.

The short week, the mini-bye and the sudden quietness surrounding the team offers the opportunity to look ahead. Though the Patriots never look beyond what is in right front of them week to week, I wonder if this weekend is the time when a new piece to the puzzle may be added.

The NFL trade deadline is October 29 at 4 p.m.. By then the Patriots will have the Giants, Jets and Browns in their wake and should be boasting an 8-0 record. Once upon a time in the preseason, that Browns game looked like an interesting one, but their trajectory is pointing directly downward so far this season. Mayfield looks lost and is at the center of an inconsistent offense.

From this angle, the season starts in earnest on Sunday Night Football, November 3 in Baltimore against the Ravens. The Ravens are an interesting team with a unique style and situation at quarterback. Lamar Jackson is a fantasy football darling and can be fun to watch, but are you worried? I’m not. However, at least Baltimore poses somewhat of a threat on the road. If not a threat, they’re certainly a reasonable opponent, something that has been lacking so far this season and will likely continue to until halfway through this season.

Again, plenty of quiet. The question is when does the storm come? The 2019 regular season isn’t providing many pitfalls but the five game stretch from that Sunday night game in Baltimore through the December 8 home tilt against the Chiefs is where you can find the meat on the bone. The Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs make up a nice stretch of solid matchups in an otherwise sleepy schedule.

To keep things interesting in the interim it would be nice to see a new offensive weapon blended into the mix this month. Like tonight, the schedule is offering three more preseason like games to work that player in and would add just a touch of noise to this otherwise rather sleepy fall.

Wake me up when they’re 8-0.