Game two of the Patriots season is upon us. After a narrow escape out of the Ralph last weekend, the team has a short turn around. Their was plenty of good and bad to come out of the game versus the Bills. Game two on a short week at home hopefully will show an improvement for the Pats.
Tonights battle is for first place in the AFC East. It sounds crazy saying that this early in the season but this is a game the Patriots should win to establish their dominance in the AFC East. They will have to win without Shane Vereen and most likely Danny Amendola. Both players were instrumental in the victory over the Bills last week.
What to watch for.
The young wide outs. Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson need to play a bigger role with the offesive injuries. Thompkins struggled on Sunday getting open and only had four catches on 14 targets. He needs to have a game like he did in the preseason against the Buccaneers. Boyce could be used in the Amendola mode, but the rookie didn't do much in week one. If Aaron Dobson's hamstring is good to go he could provide the outside the numbers pass catcher the team so desperately needs.
Stevan Ridley ball security. Last week Ridley fumbled twice and one was recovered for a 74 yard touchdown. One of the most sloppy plays of the afternoon. With Vereen out off action. Ridley needs to step up his game. The third year back out of LSU needs to polish off his game to truly become a work horse. Players like Kevin Faulk and Adrian Peterson have had fumbling issue and found a way to cure it. The Patriots need the same remedy.
Mental mistakes. The Patriots had too many sloppy plays last week. Whether it was the fumbles. The interception off of Zach Sudfeld, penalties, or the 19 yard punt by rookie Ryan Allen, this needs to be corrected. Again the Patriots are lucky to be going into this game after a win.
Defensive pass rush. While the team had no sacks on Sunday they did get after EJ Manuel enough to help the secondarry. The second week in a row the Patriots will face a rookie quarterback. Geno Smith does not have the skill positions around him that Manuel does, but he uses his legs better.
Even with the injuries, the Patriots are the better of the two teams. I see the Pats winning 24-16. I am expecting a good game by Stevan Ridley and Julien Edelman.