Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Pats Pulpit in order to preview this big Week 11 Philadelphia Eagles versus New England Patriots matchup (you can read that here). Today, we’re back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format allows us to show what the other side is worried about.
1.) They fall behind early.
All year long, the Patriots preached one mantra when it came to going on the road: start fast. They were able to do that in three of their five games away from Massachusetts so far, but failed to get off to a good start against Washington and Baltimore. Washington, as you very well know, is not a particularly good football team so the slow start did not matter in the grand scheme of things. The Ravens, however, were able to jump to a 17-0 lead that the Patriots were unable to overcome.
Starting slowly is always bad, but it’s especially worrisome on the road where crowd noise becomes a factor. If New England digs itself into a similar hole like it did two weeks ago versus Baltimore, this could become a factor.
2.) They can’t stop the run.
The Patriots defense is pretty good — for starters: it ranks first in the league in points, yards and turnovers — but if it has a proverbial Achilles heel it is certainly its ability to stop the run. The Ravens were able to take advantage of this in Week 9 and it allowed them to control the pace of the game and ultimately win 37-20. For the Patriots to get back into the win column, slowing down Miles Sanders and company is paramount.It will not be easy, though, considering that the Patriots’ run defense is surrendering 4.7 yards per carry (seventh worst in the NFL) while being ranked just 14th in DVOA (-11.1%). If the Eagles can take advantage of those numbers and also follow the Ravens’ blueprint — take advantage of New England’s defensive aggressiveness and two-gap scheme — it could be a long day for the team down in Philly.
And there’s also Carson Wentz, of course. He may not be Lamar Jackson when it comes to running abilities but he certainly is capable of advancing the football with his legs if need be. If the Patriots sell out to stop the “traditional” running game, Wentz could be able to get some opportunities to break the pocket on perimeter runs that New England failed to defend against Baltimore.
3.) They can’t protect Tom Brady.
Even though it has Tom Brady running the show, the Patriots offense has had its fair share of ups and downs this year. A big reason for that is the play of an offensive line that lost its starting center (David Andrews) before the season and its left tackle (Isaiah Wynn) in Week 2. While replacement center Ted Karras has been quite good filling Andrews’ role, Wynn stand-in Marshall Newhouse has struggled as both a run blocker and as a pass protector.
I doubt the Patriots will pick this week to try to get their struggling running game going against a talented defensive front, so their game plan will rely on passing the football and possibly using the no-huddle approach that has worked well in Baltimore. However, this also means that protecting Tom Brady will be a key to this plan. If Philadelphia can take advantage of the line’s inconsistent play and especially challenge Newhouse around the edge, it will be hard for New England to get into an offensive rhythm.