The Patriots giveth, and the Patriots taketh away.
We all know Bill Belichick loves a positive turnover differential almost as much as the final score, and the Pats’ defense snatched and robbed their way out of a Week One hole with four interceptions on Sunday. Nice rebound.
Since the opponent was the uninspired Jets, the Patriots barely got any movement in the power rankings, averaging about the same as last week. Two of the experts even kicked the team three points down the ladder for their efforts. You would think summoning ghosts would have impressed them just a tad, but whatever love the analysts had for the turnovers was muted somewhat by the Patriots’ slog of an offense as well as the opponent’s MetLife Stadium address. Understandable.
Next team on the schedule should garner more respect all around. The Saints have been dealing with their own wild inconsistencies through two weeks, which adds to more uncertainty when figuring out what to expect this Sunday. I’m counting on the defense to handle QB Jameis Winston, and will be interested to see how Josh McDaniels game-plans around a Saints defense that is solid against the run. We could witness yet another slog on offense but I’ll be happy just to come out ahead. Pats are favored to win by 2.5 points. I predict the hometown crowd pushes the Pats into the win column just like Sunday’s Damien Harris touchdown.
Around the AFC East:
11th - Mark Maske (Washington Post): QB Mac Jones prevailed convincingly in his rookie duel with Zach Wilson, and the Patriots bounced back from a season-opening loss to the Dolphins with a decisive victory over the Jets. Things get interesting with the Saints and the Buccaneers coming to Foxborough, Mass., over the next two weekends. [+2]
13th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Bill Belichick makes more people see ghosts than Oda Mae Brown.
15th - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): Zach Wilson has become the latest highly touted Jets quarterback prospect to burn up spectacularly in the presence of Bill Belichick. New England intercepted Wilson four times on Sunday, dominating the rookie in a 25-6 win at the Meadowlands. While Wilson imploded, Mac Jones delivered another steady effort that should have the Patriots feeling extremely optimistic about their rookie passer. Jones wasn’t electric, but he led the offense with confidence and showed poise that clearly eluded the QB taken 13 picks ahead of him on the other side of the field. If this is Jones’ floor, the Pats are set up very well for the future.
15th - Danny Kelly (The Ringer): Contenders category.
16th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Josh Uche, a second-round draft pick last year, did little as a rookie. This season he’s off to a fast start with three sacks, including two Sunday. He could be a big piece for the Patriots this season, and maybe for a while. [-1]
16th - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): The Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, but they fumbled the ball 4 times throughout the game. They didn’t have the same unlucky turnover run in Week 2, and they took care of business against a bad Jets team. Jones was once again an efficient driver of the offense, completing passes in bulk and taking care of the football. If he continues that, this team will find ways to move the football well enough to put drives together and score points. The defense appears back to pre-2020 levels, even without Stephon Gilmore. [-1]
17th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots are the AFC version of the Saints, working to manufacture wins under a venerable Super Bowl-winning genius of a coach with a transitional offense, shorthanded defense and a new starting QB. It worked great against the Jets after not being enough against the Dolphins. [+2]
18th - Nick Wojton (TouchdownWire): Those four interceptions from the Jets made things awfully easy for the Patriots. But Bill Belichick did remind us that rookie quarterbacks are in his crosshairs when he’s facing them. Speaking of which, Mac Jones and the offense didn’t blow the doors off this one like they could have.
18th - Justin Leger (NBC Sports Boston): Mac Jones earned his first NFL win as the Patriots picked off fellow rookie QB Zach Wilson four times. Running backs Damien Harris and James White scored touchdowns in the 25-6 win to help New England forget about its Week 1 loss to Miami. [-1]
18th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): Sunday’s victory over the New York Jets was a very Belichickian game. If you were looking for offensive fireworks, this wasn’t the game for you. There were less than 600 yards of offense between the two teams, and they combined to go 8-of-25 on third down. That is, um, not good.
But while the Patriots were outgained yardage-wise, New England didn’t do the one thing that will always sink an NFL team. The Pats didn’t turn the ball over, but they forced four Jets miscues. This is the recipe the Patriots are going to use this season: play defense, run the ball (24 carries for 101 yards) and try to keep the pressure off rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
The question is how effective that strategy will be against teams that aren’t tomato cans—like, say, the Tampa Bay Bradyneers, who come to Gillette Stadium in Week 4. [-3]
19th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): The defense toyed with Jets rookie quarterback Zack Wilson, which isn’t a surprise. The offense was just OK, but it was good enough with the defense so dominant. [+1]
19th - NFL Nation (ESPN): It’s slim pickings for an offense that has been limited, but Harris gets the nod because he has been the surefire No. 1 RB on a team that has traditionally favored a committee approach. He had 23 carries for 100 yards in the opener (with a costly late fumble) and followed it up with a 26-yard TD run in Week 2 on one of the best individual rushing efforts across the NFL. [-2]
19th - Mitch Goldich (SI): I’m sort of fascinated by this version of the Patriots. For so many years, we just knew what to expect from them on a week-to-week basis, and what a big Patriots game felt like. Now it’s just interesting to look at New England on the schedule and wonder what kind of game it’ll be. After seeing the defense manhandle the Jets, it’ll be fun to see Bill Belichick scheme up against Sean Payton. [-1]
20th - Nate Davis (USA Today): The Brady-Mac Jones comparisons are already out of control ... so here’s another one. New England is playing stifling defense – among AFC teams, tied for fewest points allowed (23) and most takeaways (5) – and running the ball effectively to keep Jones in manageable situations, much as Bill Belichick did in 2001 when Brady became the starter ... and won his first Super Bowl. No pressure, Mac. [-3]
21st - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post).
21st - Adam Hoge (NBC Chicago): It wasn’t exactly a pretty win, but Mac Jones and the Patriots are back to .500 after beating the Jets at home. Interesting game this week with Saints, as both teams are a little hard to figure out right now.
AVG RANK: 17.25 [- 0.45]