The New England Patriots last faced off with the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 2, 2018. The game was played at Gillette Stadium and saw the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots come away with a 24-10 victory.
Let’s see what has changed since then.
The following nine players, who are still on the active roster in 2022, were on New England’s 53-man roster in 2018:
OT Trent Brown, C David Andrews, G James Ferentz, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., DL Lawrence Guy, CB Jonathan Jones, S Devin McCourty, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater
Offense: Almost the entire offense has changed since the 2018 matchup as Mac Jones is now the starting quarterback. Bailey Zappe is the primary backup as Brian Hoyer is on IR. Back in 2018, it was Tom Brady starting with Hoyer backing him up.
The running back room is completely different as Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are expected to get all of the work. Neither of them were on the roster against the Vikings in 2018, when the position was led by the likes of Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead. Pierre Strong Jr. is the third back on the depth chart right now and will likely see some snaps on special teams.
The pass catchers are completely different as well, with Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker as the projected starters in lieu of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Josh Gordon. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton will all see their fair share of snaps as well. The tight ends are now Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith opposed to Rob Gronkowski and Jacob Hollister.
Two starters from the 2018 offensive line are still around: Trent Brown, who returned in 2021, and David Andrews. Brown will be at left tackle with rookie Cole Strange rounding out the left side at left guard. Andrews will try to play center after suffering a thigh injury, and if he is unable to go it will likely be James Ferentz (who was inactive in 2018). Michael Onwenu will be at right guard and Yodny Cajuste is expected to play right tackle.
Isaiah Wynn was on IR in 2018 for this matchup and will likely be out again due to a foot injury sustained against the Jets. The other starting linemen four years ago were the likes of Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon (who is on IR).
Defense: The Patriots return five defensive players who all continue to make an impact in 2022.
Along the defensive line, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Lawrence Guy are still with the team. Wise Jr. will be putting pressure on the quarterback, and Guy will be plugging holes in the run game. Davon Godchaux will be the primary nose tackle, replacing Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton and Adam Butler. Carl Davis and Daniel Ekuale will rotate in for reps as well.
Matthew Judon will be on the edge opposite Wise Jr., looking to get sacks. He was not with the team in 2018, with his job being shared by the likes of Trey Flowers, John Simon and Adrian Clayborn.
At linebacker, Ja’Whaun Bentley was with the Patriots in 2018 but on injured reserve. He will start this week’s game, with Jahlani Tavai, Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan all getting reps as well. Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings will also rotate in at outside linebacker but will not see action in the middle. Back in 2018, their roles were shared, among others, by Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts.
The secondary returns starters Jonathan Jones and Devin McCourty, who both saw action versus Minnesota in 2018. Jalen Mills, Myles Bryant, and Jack Jones will be joining Jones in an attempt to slow down the Vikings receivers — a job accomplished in 2018 by Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson.
Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, and Jabrill Peppers will be on the field at safety and in rover roles playing in the box with McCourty over the top. They fill the shoes worn by Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon.
Special Teams: The special teams unit has changed a lot over the years as now Nick Folk is doing the kicking instead of Stephen Gostkowski and Michael Palardy has replaced Ryan Allen at punter. Palardy has taken over for Jake Bailey as of last week because of an injury. Joe Cardona stays as the long snapper and Matthew Slater continues to be a primary player on coverage teams.
Brenden Schooler, Raleigh Webb and DaMarcus Mitchell join Slater as the current primary players on the coverage units.
Coaching: A lot of change has happened on the coaching staff since, but Bill Belichick remains as a constant. The new offensive play caller and offensive line coach is Matt Patricia who left that season to coach the Detroit Lions. Joe Judge moves over to the offensive side of things and is now and offensive assistant and quarterback’s coach.
Defensively, former coaching assistant DeMarcus Covington is now the defensive line coach with Jerod Mayo coming aboard to coach linebackers instead of Brian Flores. Steve and Brian Belichick are coaching the linebackers and safeties, after working as safeties coach and coaching assistant in 2018, respectively. Cameron Achord’s first year on the staff was 2018 and now he is the full-time special teams coordinator.
The following eight players, who are still on the active roster in 2022, were on Minnesota’s 53-man roster in 2018:
QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook, FB C.J. Ham, WR Adam Thielen, OT Brian O’Neill, DE Danielle Hunter, LB Eric Kendricks, S Harrison Smith
Offense: The quarterback position is still manned by Kirk Cousins who has been solid all season. His backup is Nick Mullens if Cousins were forced to leave the contest, taking over for 2018 backup Trevor Siemian.
Dalvin Cook also sticks around as the Vikings’ primary running back who is still very capable of explosive plays. Alexander Mattison will also see work out of the backfield opposed to Latavius Murray who was Cook’s backup in 2018.
The lone receiver that remains from the matchup four years ago is Adam Thielen who is Minnesota’s number two man on the outside. Justin Jefferson is the big threat in this room as he replaces Stefon Diggs from the last contest. K.J. Osborn will work the slot on Thanksgiving night for the Vikings.
The tight end room is completely different as T.J. Hockenson is now with the Vikings; this is the second time the Patriots will see him this season. Johnny Mundt will also see work in two tight end sets — a big change from 2018, when Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin led the position.
Brian O’Neill remains at right tackle, but the rest of the offensive line is completely different. Ed Ingram will now be manning the right guard spot with Garrett Bradbury lining up at center. Erza Cleveland is the left guard, and the normal left tackle is Christian Darrisaw. He is dealing with a concussion, though, o Blake Brandel is expected to see an increased role.
The 2018 starting line consisted of Riley Reiff, Tom Compton, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers and O’Neill.
Defense: The Vikings bring back Danielle Hunter up front as he lines up at both defensive end and outside linebacker. Jonathan Bullard, Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson account for the rest of the defensive line, a group that was led by Hunter, Sheldon Richardson, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen in 2018.
Eric Kendricks is one of the best linebackers in the league and Minnesota has made sure to keep him around since the previous meeting. They have surrounded him with Jordan Hicks on the inside and Za’Darius Smith off the edge. Fellow 2018 starter Anthony Barr has since left the team for the Dallas Cowboys.
The leader of the cornerback room is Patrick Peterson. After that they are on second- and third-string players with Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. both seeing playing time. Contrast that to the 2018 group, which was led by Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes.
Harrison Smith returns as the true leader of the entire defense, though. The All-Pro will have Camryn Bynum lined up alongside him at safety, a role filled by Anthony Harris in 2018.
Special Teams: Minnesota has a completely different special teams unit. Greg Joseph will handle the kicking duties opposed to Dan Bailey. Ryan Wright is the new punter who replaces Matt Wile from the 2018 matchup. The new long snapper is Andrew DePaolo in what has been an improved group of specialists.
Kene Nwangwu is the kick returner while Jalen Reagor is returning punts. Osborn also has the capabilities of handling both roles if needed.
Coaching: The Vikings have completely revamped their coaching staff. Kevin O’Connell takes over as the head coach, replacing Mike Zimmer. Mike Pettine is his assistant head coach. His offensive coordinator is Wes Phillips who takes over for John DeFilippo.
Defensively, Ed Donatell is in charge as he handles the play calling. He replaces George Edwards in what has been an improved Minnesota defense. The special teams coordinator is Matt Daniels, running what is another improved unit.