The Patriots’ schedule doesn’t get any simpler in Week 4 as they journey to Dallas for a sport towards the 2-1 Cowboys.
The Patriots are seven-point underdogs within the matchup. Here are 4 gamers who have to step up for a Patriots upset.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Ezekiel Elliott’s return to Dallas is the higher story (even when he claims he’s treating this like every other week), however the Patriots fairly desperately want Stevenson to get going.
Stevenson, who averaged 5.0 yards per carry final season, has seen that quantity drop right down to 2.9 in 2023. He averaged 2.1 yards after contact final season and is selecting up simply 0.8 yards after contact by way of three tames.
“Looking back at the game … there wasn’t much yards there. It was tough yards,” Stevenson mentioned Wednesday. “I appreciate those yards. I love those yards. I think I had a pretty good game. But I need to get back to making people miss and breaking some tackles.”
There’s no motive to consider that Stevenson gained’t get rolling quickly. He was one of many NFL’s finest operating backs in 2022 and hasn’t been helped out a lot by his offensive line. But this can be a get-right sport for him. The Cowboys’ protection ranks final in defensive success fee allowed towards the frenzy with a 50.8% determine. To put that into context, the Patriots’ protection ranks sixth at 33.3%. The Patriots’ offense is sixteenth at 39.8%.
RT Vederian Lowe
The Patriots made a swap at proper sort out in Week 3 with Lowe changing offseason addition Calvin Anderson, who missed a lot of the summer season on the non-football sickness record.
Lowe struggled in his first profession begin as a cross rusher, letting up 5 complete pressures, together with a QB hit.
We’ll discover out Sunday if Lowe sticks at proper sort out, but when he does, he faces a tricky matchup towards Cowboys defensive finish DeMarcus Lawrence, who primarily strains up on the defensive left.
Lawrence, 31, has 11 pressures by way of three weeks, per PFF. He’s PFF’s fifth-highest graded edge defender behind the 49ers’ Nick Bosa, the Browns’ Myles Garrett, the Steelers’ T.J. Watt and his teammate Micah Parsons.
It can be all palms on deck towards Parsons, who Patriots head coach Bill Belichick really in comparison with Lawrence Taylor from an athleticism standpoint this week in an eye-opening admission. But the Patriots can’t enable Lawrence to beat them both.
Lawrence didn’t play towards the Patriots in Week 6 of the 2021 season, however Randy Gregory had two sacks in that sport.
OLB Matthew Judon
Judon has at the very least one sack in every sport this season. Some have come fairly a bit simpler than others. He had an unblocked sack Week 1 towards the Eagles and primarily simply downed Zach Wilson after the Jets quarterback had sacked himself in Week 3. But he additionally made spectacular performs Week 2 towards the Dolphins and with a key security Week 3 towards the Jets to place up numbers on the stat sheet.
The Cowboys’ offensive line is banged up with middle Tyler Biadasz, guard Zack Martin and sort out Tyron Smith all lacking apply time this week, so Judon has one other probability to eat this Sunday. Seven of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s 15 interceptions final season got here underneath strain.
The Patriots rank seventh in strain fee whereas rating fourth in blitz fee. They have a loaded group of cross rushers with Judon, Josh Uche, Keion White and Deatrich Wise. They did lose defensive sort out Daniel Ekuale to a torn biceps, which might result in extra snaps in pass-rush conditions for Christian Barmore and Sam Roberts.
CB Myles Bryant
Even if the Patriots can get cornerback Jonathan Jones again from his ankle damage, Bryant will seemingly proceed to start out in New England’s secondary. If rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez shadows Cowboys broad receiver CeeDee Lamb, meaning he’ll seemingly be taking part in closely within the slot within the Week 4 matchup. That would put Bryant exterior towards both Brandin Cooks or Michael Gallup.
Both are powerful matchups for Bryant. But the fourth-year professional held his personal in Weeks 2 and three towards Dolphins and Jets. He’s allowed 11 catches on 14 targets for 117 yards with one cross breakup by way of three video games. Belichick praised him for his efficiency final Sunday towards the Jets.
“Myles had a couple really good reads, and took away a couple routes that (Zach) Wilson didn’t end up throwing that if he had thrown them, they might’ve been picked off,” Belichick mentioned Monday.
Bryant can’t get beat by Cooks, Gallup or any matchups he may need towards Lamb.