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Patriots vs Jets keys to the game: Keep feeding Damien Harris

Related: Game Plan: Patriots vs. Jets

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

It has been a long five weeks since the New England Patriots’ last win at home versus the Las Vegas Raiders. Since then, the Patriots have scored more than 20 points just once, have thrown only one touchdown and have had their hopes of making a late run at another divisional title dwindle down as the weeks go on.

However, with a divisional clash with the 0-8 New York Jets on the horizon and building off a much better performance from the offense a week ago, New England has an opportunity for a “get right” game. We saw how valuable the running game can be with Damien Harris leading the charge as he’s getting more and more confident as the weeks go on. We also saw shades of Week 2 Cam Newton in the second half last week as he started to get his confidence and swagger back.

Monday night is certainly a game of two teams that lack explosiveness and elite talent. However, the Patriots are still the much better team and have an opportunity to get back into the win column before they start preparing for Baltimore.

Keep feeding Damien Harris

Last week in my column I had said that it was a perfect recipe for a Damien Harris breakout game and he delivered with 102 yards on 16 carries and a big touchdown to tie the game in the third quarter. Harris runs hard and is great after contact, one of his best traits is his ability to run through the middle and make people miss in the second level. He certainly has shown flashes of his dominant Alabama film and the Patriots may have found their lead back of the future.

Facing a Jets team that ranks bottom third against the run, Monday night is the next chance for Harris to continue to solidify his role and get going for the stretch run coming up after tonight — even if Sony Michel returns from injured reserve soon.

Continue to get Cam Newton’s confidence back

It’s been a tale of two different seasons for the former league MVP, who has had a rough last four weeks as he was coming off a positive Coronavirus diagnosis and defenses began to figure out what the Patriots and Newton are trying to do.

However, Newton was much better in the second half on Sunday in Buffalo going 8-for-11 for 81 yards while also picking up 31 yards on the ground before his heartbreaking and game-ending fumble. It is not a secret that when he is oozing with confidence and swagger Cam Newton can bing his game to the next level. With a matchup against the lowly Jets on tap, it’s an opportunity for him to continue to build off of his strong second half last week.

Stay healthy!

There’s no question the Patriots are banged up on both sides of the ball with Julian Edelman, Stephon Gilmore, Lawrence Guy, Ja’Whaun Bentley and N’Keal Harry all slated to miss tonight’s game. Particularly at the wide receiver position, the Patriots really have no depth with Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski and Damiere Byrd as the only active wide receivers that are eligible to play.

Granted, sitting at 2-5 with Buffalo and Miami both picking up big wins yesterday, the team’s divisional and playoff hopes are slowly dwindling away, but they are still a few injuries away from rolling out a pre-season roster and nobody wants to watch that.

Prediction: Patriots 27 - Jets 7

Did you know?

  • Cam Newton is on pace to tie his single season record of 139 rushing attempts as a quarterback.
  • Joe Flacco will look to beat Belichick for the fourth time in his career. He hasn’t beaten the Patriots since 2013 in the AFC Championship game.
  • If Damien Harris eclipses 100 yards rushing, it will be the first time a Patriots running back will have back-to-back 100 yard rushing games since LeGarrette Blount in 2016.
  • With 20 receiving yards, James White will join Kevin Faulk as the only Patriots running backs to amass 3,000 career receiving yards.