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Sunday's Season Finale Marks the End of an Era for the New England Patriots

Although a disappointing ride, these 18 weeks felt like they flew by, and now, there are just 60 minutes of football left for the Patriots before what might be the most pivotal offseason in franchise history. It feels like baring something drastic, Bill Belichick is coaching his final game in New England, the front office could be seeing a shakeup, and the de-facto captain of this team for the last decade, Matt Slater, is playing his final game in the NFL.

Although far from retirement, this could be the final Patriots game for several key cogs over the last few years. Namely Mike Onwenu, Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, and the already ruled-out Trent Brown and Hunter Henry. Surely, some of them factor into plans for 2024 and beyond, but you never know with all the uncertainty up the chain of command. So yeah, lots of moving parts to consider moving forward.

As for the opposition, the Jets, after getting smoked by the Browns on the Thursday Night Football finale, come into Foxborough with 10 days rest and a fully intact defense. Offensively, not so much. With Zach Wilson still in concussion protocol, Trevor Siemiam is set for his third start of the season, going 1-1 these last two weeks. Additionally, although he wasn't much of a factor, Dalvin Cook got released this week so he could sign with the Baltimore Ravens. So outside of Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson, and maybe Tyler Conklin, there's not much to speak of about this team on that side of the ball.

Now, what many Patriots fans are interested in this week is the draft ordering. New England could be picking as high as second, and as low as seventh depending on what happens, and in a draft class that features Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels, it might be best long-term if they lose this week. That said, this group has objectively not been for the tank talk all year and has played like it, and I doubt that will change on the way out the door. But what makes things even more interesting is we're likely looking at a (slush) snow game.

Game Info

Date: Sunday, January 7

Start Time: 1:00 EST

Location: Foxborough, Massachusetts

Stadium: Gillette Stadium

TV Info: FOX (Chris Myers and Robert Smith on the call)

Patriots Uniform Info: All Navy

Players Already Ruled Out Before Sunday

New York Jets: Jake Hanson (IOL), Jeremy Ruckert (TE), Zach Wilson (QB)

New England Patriots: Trent Brown (OT), Hunter Henry (TE)

New York Jets


Last week, the Browns became just the second team to put over 400 yards on this Jets defense, joining...the Kansas City Chiefs, as wild as that sounds. Cleveland was however the first team all year to put up 300 passing yards on what's been a lights-out Jets secondary all season, doing so without Amari Cooper, to boot. Regardless, this is still one of the five best passing defenses in the sport, and up against a Patriots offense down several skill guys, things could get ugly. Can't imagine things going too hot against Sauce Gardner in D.J. Reed when they didn't the first go around.

One surprising element about this Jets' defense is how bad they've been as a run-defending unit this year. With all the talent they boast in the front seven, you'd think they'd be comfortably in the top half of rushing defenses right? Quite the opposite, ranked 24th with one game to go. The only upside, and relatively speaking, it's not much, is that they were playing the run better as of late, allowing less than 100 against Atlanta, Houston, and then Miami, the latter of whom had put up 167 on the ground just four weeks prior.

As far as a couple of key guys go, look out for Quincy Williams, Quinnen's older brother, who's stuffed the stat sheet in the back half of the season, totaling 71 tackles (eight for loss), two sacks, six PBUs, plus a forced fumble and recovery since Thanksgiving. Elsewhere, keep an eye on No. 47 Bryce Huff, who's probably playing his final game as a Jet. For whatever reason, they haven't utilized him much off the edge until this year, and conveniently, when they have this year, he's put up a team-high eight sacks and 28 pressures. Gotta imagine with Will McDonald and Jermaine Johnson in-house, New York isn't going to break the bank to try and retain his services this offseason, making him an interesting free agent option at just 25 years old.


I, for one, am stunned to see that an offense that was essentially Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson, a makeshift offensive line, and Aaron Rodgers' conspiracy theory club members (Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb) hasn't been able to produce much. The offensive line part is the least surprising, and everyone but those inside the Jets building saw this coming. Through 16 games, New York has allowed nearly four sacks per game on average, trailing only the Giants in the NFL. Further hampering things is that just left guard Laken Tomlinson has started every game this year, every other primary starter has at least been out once. To this group's credit, they only let up two sacks against Myles Garrett and the Browns, so..progress???

Even without a certain psychedelics enjoyer on the sidelines, Garrett Wilson is set to wrap up his second consecutive 1000-yard season to begin his career. Unsurprisingly, he's been the go-to target all year. 93 catches on the year, but his 163 targets trail only Davante Adams and First-Team All-Pro bound CeeDee Lamb. Yeah, it's been that kind of a year. While Breece Hall has been a frequent check-down target these last two weeks, Trevor Siemian has also hit the Tyler Conklin well, who's racked up 81 yards on nine grabs these two weeks. This is all to say I wouldn't expect anything exotic out of the Jets on Sunday, especially if the weather is bad.

Onto a slightly related note now; it was revealed by ESPN's Rich Cimini that Aaron Rodgers was voted by his teammates as the most inspirational New York Jet. I'm going to say that one more time real quick. Aaron Rodgers, the same week he accused a late-night talk show host of a serious crime on national television and lied through his teeth all year saying he'd return months after tearing his Achilles, was voted his team's most inspirational player. I cannot believe this is a real story, simply cannot.

New England Patriots


As disappointing as things got this year, this Patriots defense was a genuine blast to watch just about every week this year. The large majority of which was without Christian Gonzalez, Matt Judon, or Marcus Jones. They're also getting some reinforcements back for this final showdown in Jabrill Peppers, who's missed the last two weeks with a hamstring issue. Should be in a good mood too given that Michigan won the Rose Bowl and is in the Natty. No word yet on if he and Washington alumn Myles Bryant, but Peppers insinuated his teammate isn't willing to stand on business.

Another storyline this week was that no Patriots defender (or any player, for that matter) made this season's Pro Bowl squad. My take is the Patriots had three defenders who probably should have made the AFC team, Peppers, Kyle Dugger, and Christian Barmore, but the fan vote dictates a lot, and I can't imagine many outside of New England have seen much of their work. That's understandable, but it would've been nice to see those guys get recognized, even as the Pro Bowl isn't what it once was.


I have one point to make on the offense this week, and we'll move on. If there's not even an attempt to get Matt Slater a touchdown this week, the coaches should all collectively be booed off the field once things go final. That feels like a just punishment. You know exactly what the people want to see this week, make it happen.

Points Spread: NYJ (-110) | NE +14 (-110)

Moneyline: NYJ (+114) | NE (-134)

Over/Under: O 30.5 (-110) | U 30.5 (-110)

Lines via FanDuel as of Friday, January 5

While the Patriots have covered in 3-of-5 coming into this week, they've only covered once at home all year (Buffalo win), which is the same amount of times that the Jets have covered on the road this season. Both of those games occurred in October, so yeah, if you're betting on this one, you're a true degenerate...with that said, Jets both ways and the over.


Fun as the two automatic wins against the Jets have been since the 2016 season, it's gonna end sooner or later, and I think that time is Sunday. Bailey Zappe was under a ton of heat last weekend in Buffalo with the left side of the line in the state it's in, and the Jets, for the season, have applied more pressure than the Bills did in just one game (26% for the Jets, 25.8% for the Bills last Sunday). Ultimately, the two defenses will mostly do their part in bad conditions, but I think it comes down to the running games, and I'll take Hall over Elliott this weekend.

Final Score: New York Jets 24, New England Patriots 14

Key Draft Pick Related Game Picks -

Cowboys over Commanders (Hurts Patriots but not much), Steelers over Ravens (Hurts Patriots), Texans over Colts (Helps Patriots), Falcons over Saints (Helps Patriots), Packers over Bears (Hurts Patriots), Jaguars over Titans (Hurts the Patriots in the event of a win) Cardinals over Seahawks (Helps Patriots in the event of a win), Eagles over Giants (Hurts Patriots in the event of a win)

Patriots Draft Position with these results and a loss: 2nd

Patriots Draft Position with these results and a win: 3rd

And in the event you are there on Sunday, give Matt Slater a good hand. He was the best core special teamer the league has ever seen (a very thankless job) and, quite frankly, deserved better than his last few years in the league. The same goes for Belichick. I wish it didn't end like this, and while this mostly lies on him, these last few years don't discredit the entire run he had here.

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