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Back to the Meadowlands go the Patriots for an Untraditionally Important Matchup With the Giants

In years past, say 2007-2015, Patriots Giants matchups were as high stakes thrillers, showcasing some All-Time NFL talent going head to head. In 2023, however, this matchup can best be described as a game that both teams need to lose, and neither can afford to win. With both teams sitting top five in the draft order as of today, the loser of this tilt would in all likelihood leave this weekend with the provisional No. 2 pick, while the winner would either get the No. 6 or 7 slot.

For as much of a slog 2023 has been for the Patriots, it's been equally so, if not worse, for Big Blue; losing twice to Dallas by a combined score of 89-17, losing Daniel Jones for the year with a torn ACL, and backup Tyrod Taylor for some weeks now with a serious rib issue, and of course, the eight losses arent great after a playoff birth a season ago.

Despite this, the Giants still have a fair share of talent on both sides of the ball. Left tackle Andrew Thomas might be the best at his position two years running, Dexter Lawrence is probably the best outright defensive player in football right now, second-year edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is having a great season, and of course, there's always Saquon Barkley. So, with the unreasonable ambiguity around who's starting at quarterback for New England, how do they look coming out of the bye?

Game Info

Date: Sunday, November 26

Start Time: 1:00 EST

Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Stadium: MetLife Stadium

TV Info: FOX (Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma on the call)

Patriots Uniform Info: White Tops, Blue Pants

Players Already Ruled Out Before Sunday

New York Giants: Evan Neal (OT) (IDL Dexter Lawrence and WR Darius Slayton both listed as Doubtful)

New England Patriots: N/A

New York Giants


This Giants defense, which was already a bottom 10 overall unit a season ago, has managed to slide a bit further in 2023. More of a suspect against the run than the pass, they might be without one of the NFL's best outright defenders on Sunday in Dexter Lawrence, who is currently dealing with a hamstring issue. That would be about as un-ideal as possible, especially given that the Giants dumped off Leonard Williams to the Seahawks at the deadline as well. But losing Lawrence up the middle would be huge. This is a razor-thin group up front as is, and he's the best player the Giants have.

The good news for New York is that their newest star edge rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux, is fully healthy and is on an absolute tear at this point in the year. Currently at 10.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, and 10 TFLs, he's either put up more than double or equaled (QB hits) his numbers from his rookie season. Last week, Thibodeaux gave Commanders left tackle Charles Leno fits, so the Patriots need to consistently get extra attention on him. Chips, double teams, even running some more quick hitters than normal, but they can't let him take things over like he did against Washington.

Whether or not the Patriots can do any of these things is TBD, but going back and skimming through New York's losses against Miami and the second game against Dallas, the Giants struggled a ton defending shots down the seems, either inside or outside the numbers, and had trouble working against/deciphering misdirection and presnap motion in the pass or run game. Might not be a bad idea to work a guy like Pop Douglas behind the line of scrimmage and run some misdirection runs with Rhamondre Stevenson and Zeke Elliott.


No Daniel Jones or Tyrod Taylor for the Giants, so under center for Brian Daboll is the fighting pride of Syracuse, Tommy DeVito. Although he's 1-1 as a starter, and the one win was against a Commanders team that just fired their defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, he's coming off a start where he looked good, all things considered. Former NFL quarterback Chase Daniels dropped a 20-minute breakdown on that start, but he made several impressive throws last week, including this one to Saquon Barkley.

Speaking of Barkley, he's having another solid campaign once again despite all that's happening around him and the fact he only has one rushing touchdown (he has four receiving, for the record). Given that Darius Slayton is likely set to miss this game, everything should, and probably will, be based on stopping Barkley for the Patriots. If that means DeVito is the reason the Giants win, so be it, but letting Barkley get hot right away would be catastrophic for the Patriots. Outside of him, the only true threats the Giants would have in light of Slayton being inactive would be tight end Daniel Bellinger, and wideout Wan'Dale Robinson.

Now, onto the biggest issue for the Giants all year long; the offensive line. Andrew Thomas, whom we mentioned at the top, might be the best-left tackle in the entire league, but outside of him, things get pretty grim. Evan Neal hasn't been able to make it work in year two at right tackle and is out for this game, they've had to move Ben Bredson from left guard to right, and in case you haven't heard, Justin Pugh went from the couch to the Giants at the snap of a finger. This unit is widely considered one of the worst units across the board in 2023, giving up 20 sacks (yes, that's not a typo, 20 sacks) in the last three weeks, including nine against Washington. Might not be a bad idea to send the hounds at DeVito if you're the Belichicks and Jerod Mayo.

New England Patriots


A big subplot to this Patriots season has been the return, and subsequent benching of JC Jackson, but we got a positive update on that front from Bill Belichick and Jackson himself. The corner sat down with Mark Daniels of MassLive, and stated he wasn't doing anything wrong before curfew, but missed his bed check the night before the Commanders game, taking full accountability.

“Reality check – I’m not bigger than the team. I’m not bigger than nobody in here. This is a team sport and I have to do whatever everybody else is doing. I want to be a part of the team. This is my team. This is home for me, man. This is where I want to be. I don’t want to go nowhere else. I want to finish my career here also. I’ve just got to continue to build that leadership each and every day. It just stinks for me – I kind of played a lot of football. I know what to do at this point.” - J.C. Jackson on his benching

Belichick also said this was a good week of practice for the veteran corner, so hopefully, he can get things back on track and finish the season strong. Another player who ended up missing the Germany trip, surprisingly, was Ja'Whaun Bentley, who's still limited with that hamstring issue. Given the specific running back on the opposition this week, that'd be a gigantic loss if he can't suit up. The Patriots only held Jonathan Taylor to 69 yards on 23 carries, but that's not something I'm willing to put to chance two games in a row. They obviously shouldn't push things with where their season is, but having Bentley would be huge for the Patriots in this one.


Offensively, the Patriots are getting some reinforcements back as well. First is potentially DeVante Parker, who had that awful concussion in that Miami game some weeks ago. Second, is Trent Brown, who earlier this week, went on the record as to why he never made the flight to Germany (death in the family) and defended his character in a chat, also with Mark Daniels, after Bert Breer went on NBC Sports Boston and said the big left tackle is, "habitually late" to meetings.

“That’s bulls***. It’s a bunch of bulls***. I’m never late. Honestly. I’m one of the first ones in and one of the last ones out of the building....I’m sure you’re not really used to reporting about losing seasons around here, but that’s the type of bulls*** rhetoric that comes to play. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all season I’ve been the best player on offense and then when I’m not playing, that bulls*** starts happening.” It’s crazy. It seems like somewhere of a smear campaign, but whatever. I’ve literally never been late [also noting he hasn’t been disciplined by Bill Belichick while playing in New England] I don’t know what it is but when I’m out there I do my job and it’s noticeable and that’s all I can control.” - Trent Brown on comments made by Albert Breer

As far as Brown saying he's been one of the best offensive players on the team this year and referencing the five first-half sacks the Patriots gave up in Frankfurt, he's not wrong. The big fella has had a few low lights this year, but for every bad rep, there are about two to three dozen good ones, and his PFF grade, which at one point was the second-best among all tackles, has reflected that.

One thing that we did get to see the last time the Patriots played was an abundance of Demario Douglas. The nine targets, six catches, and 84 yards were all-season highs for the Liberty product. Even if his biggest gainer was on a throwaway play at the end of the first half, he found plenty of ways to get open and be a consistent playmaker. In a year like this, that's all you can ask for. Hopefully, the ball continues to find No. 81 early and often again.


Despite Bill Belichick's attempts to shroud the choice of starting quarterback this weekend in mystery, we've been duped for the second time this year. According to Phil Perry and some unnamed players he's talked to, Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe split the starter reps this week (zero mention of Will Grier). No one knows who's starting, but one player went out on a limb and guessed it'd be Jones.

So what's the point of splitting starter reps in practice this late in the season between a guy who's coming off the worst start of his career, and a guy you clearly don't think is good enough based on the fact you cut him on cutdown day? Pulling the leg of the beat guy and gals? The memes? The vibes? This is the kind of stuff loser organizations in the past like the Jets and those of their ilk did, and now the Patriots are right there with them. Bush league stuff by Belichick when the team is 2-8, and you are 100 percent gone at year's end. What happened to putting the team in the best position to win?

Points Spread: NYG +3.5 (-112) | NE -3.5 (-108)

Moneyline: NYG (+162) | NE (-194)

Over/Under: O 34 (-105) | U 34 (-115)

Lines via FanDuel as of Friday, November 24

I don't like that spread, not one bit, let me tell you, my friends. That, and this is the kind of O/U you see in an Iowa-Northwestern game, not an NFL game. That said, give me Giants both ways and under. These are two awful teams against the spread, and the over has just hit in just 6-of-21 (28.5 percent) of all Patriots and Giants games this year.


Of all the games you want to see the Patriots lose the rest of the way if you're solely thinking draft position at this point, this is the one, and I think they do. The fact the Patriots decided to SPLIT STARTER REPS at quarterback coming out of the bye week is an insane move, and that might be the difference here. I find it very hard to have faith in Mac Jones at this point when A) he played like he did against Indianapolis and B) Belichick clearly doesn't believe in him quite enough anymore. New England got out of the Meadowlands by the skin of their teeth once already, but I don't think they make it twice this year.

Final Score: New York Giants 20, New England Patriots 10

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