Nobody expected the Patriots to be something special this season, but I don't think anyone else saw a 2-8 start in the cards either. They did everything right last week against the Colts. They ran the ball exceptionally well, and stopped the Indianapolis run game. Those were the keys to winning, but per usual, Mac Jones could not deliver in the final moments, and lost the game while the defense only allowed 10 points. You might think that sounds impossible, but they could only muster up 6 points in the international contest. Luckily, New England faces a team this week with the same number of losses this year as them, the New York Giants. Let's take a look at how the Patriots can become victorious in the Battle of the Bums.
Run. The. Ball.
Once again, the focal point of this offense should be to run the ball. The Giants rank 28th in run defense. That is even worse than Indianapolis (25th) and the Patriots ran for 167 yards against them in their previous game. They are coming off of a long bye week and should have had plenty of time to look over the film and realize that the running game was working. They were one play away from winning the game. Not only do the Giants give up an average of 135.1 rushing yards per game, but in their last 3 games they're allowing an average of 155.7. They are also missing their best defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence (hamstring), so the Patriots need to take advantage of that and give Stevenson and Zeke a full workload. They just had an extra week to rest, they can handle it. Any time this team has been able to run the ball effectively, and not put all the pressure on Mac, they have been in position to win a lot of games. They haven't been able to finish but they are doing all the right things up until that point.
It is still undecided who is playing quarterback for the Patriots this Sunday, but whoever it is needs to take advantage of the play action. Mac and Zappe both have struggled, and the best way to get open looks is by getting some good play action plays called at the right time. The plan is to be able to run the ball as the Giants are poor at defending the run. This opens up the play action opportunities. New York's defense as a whole hasn't been good at all this year. They rank 22nd in passing yards allowed per game with an average of 236.6 and give up an average of 303.7 in their last 3. That ranks 31st, only ahead of Tampa Bay (305 passing yards per game).
With that being said, look for Bill O'Brien to mix in some of these plays, and allow Mac or Zappe to air it out a couple of times. This team has absolutely nothing to lose, so why not take some shots? Also, Mac has looked his best when the offense operates like this, so if he starts, he should be able to put together a solid performance. If he plays bad in the first half though, I think Bill needs to put in Will Grier. Zappe hasn't performed well in any of his starts, and it would be nice to see a new face operating the offense. It could potentially save them from having to draft a QB with their first pick next year if Grier plays well.
Pressure the Quarterback:
The Giants average an abysmal 13.5 points per game. Throughout 11 games, they only have 14 offensive touchdowns (10 passing, 4 rushing). This is mainly because of how bad their offensive line is. Their offensive line has allowed the most sacks this year (67) and the most QB pressures (211). It would be hard for any quarterback to succeed with those types of numbers, so the Patriots need to continue to apply the pressure. Bill Belichick is historically amazing against rookie quarterbacks as well. He is 22-6, and looks to make it 23-6 against rookie Tommy DeVito. This is mainly because of his confusing defensive schemes. Most rookie quarterbacks have never seen a defense like this before so they tend to struggle. The Patriots pass rush has been terrible though since the loss of Matthew Judon. Despite not playing since week 4, Judon still leads the Patriots in sacks (4). Someone needs to step up and generate pressure, or this game could get messy.