Before I begin, the 2022-23 NFL season would like to give a nice, big “Andy’s room welcome” to the Patriots offense. Thanks for showing up last week. If you could stick around for a while that would be great. Seriously. Make yourself at home, but please leave the penalties, miscues and poor execution outside.
For those watching Thanksgiving night, the Pats’ biggest obstacle vs. the Vikings was tripping over their own cleats. The second obstacle was defending WR Justin Jefferson. To be fair, Jefferson was a man on fire giving the defense all they could handle. But even with his stats (9 of 11 targets, 139 yards, 1 TD, 1 PA 11 yards) the Patriots went toe-to-toe all game long with the No. 2 NFC contender.
Quite a few of the analysts touched on the Patriots’ positives from Week 12 and that’s probably why the average rank only dropped a point after the loss. Apparently not everyone bought into the league’s fallacious reasoning behind disallowing Hunter Henry’s touchdown. David Andrews, Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker are each on the mend and the team will benefit from them being on the field vs. the visiting Bills. I’m betting New England (calling ALL units!) can finally pull it all together in the same game this Thursday night.
Around the AFC East:
10th - Nate Davis (USA Today): They’ve topped the century mark in terms of rushing yards just once in their last six games ... though, on the flip side, they’ve only allowed more than 100 yards on the ground one time in that span. [+1]
11th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Mac Jones throwing for 382 yards might say more about the Vikings defense. But it was still a positive performance for Jones and the Patriots offense. And Hunter Henry caught it. [+1]
11th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Thursday night’s game against the Bills becomes the biggest of the year for this team, so far. [-1]
12th - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): One could say that the Patriots outplayed the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving, but a series of unfortunate events kept them from adding another win to their record in arguably the best division in football. The Hunter Henry no-catch hurt, but the Patriots went zero for three in the red zone for the night, which was their ultimate demise. The Vikings scored four touchdowns, while the Patriots could only manage two. With the Bills (x2), Bengals, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Raiders left on their schedule, New England has a lot of hard work ahead of them if they want to make the playoffs in an incredibly contested AFC. [nc]
12th - Bo Wulf (The Athletic): Mac Jones played his best game of the season in the 33-26 loss to the Vikings on Thanksgiving night. He threw for a season-high 382 yards and two touchdowns with an EPA per dropback of 0.21 that dwarfed his previous season high of 0.02. But he also led an offense that had several miscues that cost them chances for points in a winnable game. At the moment, the Patriots are one game outside the AFC playoff picture. The stakes are high over the final six games for a team with a good enough defense to make some noise and an offseason that promises further introspection about the quarterback position. [nc]
13th - Conor Orr (SI): The Jets have significantly better playoff odds than New England at this point, so why are the Patriots slightly out front? I cannot, in good conscience, drop the best defense in the league below 13th. In my gut, I see the Patriots in the postseason. [nc]
13th - Austin Gayle (The Ringer): There is volatility to the Patriots defense, which is ranked first in defensive EPA per game. In games against quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Fields, and now Kirk Cousins, the Patriots have allowed 27.2 offensive points per game. In their other six games, when they’ve gotten to face Zach Wilson (twice), Sam Ehlinger, Kenny Pickett, Jared Goff, and Jacoby Brissett, they’ve allowed just 8.7 points per game. Next, they’ll face an MVP candidate in Josh Allen on Thursday Night Football. For the Patriots to keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need to play better against the better QBs on their schedule. [+1]
14th - Mark Lane (TouchdownWire): New England could have used a win over Minnesota, but at least they did show that the three points from the offense against the Jets the week prior was a result of bad weather conditions. Maybe the Patriots would be higher this week if the NFL could ever figure out what constitutes a catch. [-5]
14th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): The New England Patriots had an opportunity to make a statement in Week 12. If they went on the road and beat a two-loss Vikings team, they would have to be taken seriously as a player in the AFC East. Instead, the Patriots came up short—largely because they couldn’t get out of their own way.
A number of plays could have potentially swung the game in New England’s favor, including a touchdown catch by tight end Hunter Henry that was overturned on review. But after the loss, quarterback Mac Jones told reporters that New England sealed its own fate with miscues and poor execution. ... Jones can’t be blamed for the loss after he threw for a career-high 382 yards. But New England’s usually stout defense was carved up by a Vikings team that went 8-of-15 on third down. [nc]
14th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): That was a bit of a breakout performance for Mac Jones, even if the team ended up failing to get things done in Minneapolis. Now they have to hope the young QB can elevate to yet another level with Buffalo rolling into town. [nc]
14th - Trevor Land (FlurrySports). [nc]
14th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): The good news is that the offense showed some life against the Vikings. But what happened to the defense? Now they get Josh Allen and the Bills. [-3]
15th - NFL Nation (ESPN): Realistic expectation: Finishing above .500. Bill Belichick’s 6-5 team has the following remaining schedule: vs. Buffalo, at Arizona, at Las Vegas, vs. Cincinnati, vs. Miami and at Buffalo. Squeezing out three wins would ensure a finish over .500, but the Patriots might need four to qualify for the postseason. — Mike Reiss [-1]
15th - Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago): What do you know, Mac Jones looked like a competent, above-average NFL quarterback when given a clean pocket and a passing script that suits his game. He has emerged from the QB abyss. [nc]
15th - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post). [-2]
15th - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): Hunter Henry caught it. We try not to dwell on these things, but wow, the decision to overturn the tight end’s apparent touchdown against the Vikings was an understandable source of major frustration for the Pats and their fan base in the aftermath of a 33-26 loss on Thanksgiving night. That’s not the reason New England finds itself back in last place in the uber-competitive AFC East, however. Self-inflicted errors were crucial: The Pats went 0 for 3 in the red zone, surrendered a kickoff return for a touchdown and committed five penalties that created first downs for the Vikings, including a critical running-into-the-kicker call that set up Minnesota’s final touchdown. The Pats aren’t good enough to cover up for sloppy execution. [-2]
15th - Staff (The Score): New England gave the Vikings a run for their money on Thanksgiving. However, the Patriots conceded 33 points, which isn’t sustainable if they want to make the playoffs, considering their offensive limitations. [-1]
15th - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): There are no moral victories, especially for the New England Patriots, but Bill Belichick had to feel a little better about Mac Jones after Thanksgiving. Heading into Week 13, Jones boasts a 77.3% completion rate and 116.2 QB rating over his last 66 attempts. It’s a step in the right direction after he played like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL for most of the season. [-2]
16th - Karen Guregian (Boston Herald): It’s mind-blowing to see a Bill Belichick-coached team flunk situational football. All of the penalties and negative plays are taking a toll. [-3]
16th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots’ defense crumbled when facing a diverse, explosive and multiple offense in Minnesota as it has enough holes in those type of matchups. The good news is, Mac Jones started to play well and that will be key to maintain with the Bills next. [-1]
AVG RANK: 13.7 [-1.1]