The 2-8 Patriots are back and off the bye, looking to break a three-game losing streak against the New York Giants, a 3-8 team that is coming off a big divisional win over the Commanders. With just 48 hours to go until kickoff, the Patriots starting quarterback situation remains uncertain, as head coach Bill Belichick offered earlier in the week that he was telling everyone on the roster to be ready. What tweaks might Belichick make as the team looks to capture some momentum over their final seven games? Will Mac Jones remain the team's starter? There are plenty of questions that need answering as post-Thanksgiving football gets underway.
Here's how the Patriots Unfiltered team sees things shaking out!
The Patriots had the bye week to do some self-evaluation, what changes would you like to see against the Giants?
At this point the Patriots are what they are. Of course, at 2-8, everyone needs to play better but there are some who are playing as good as they can and that might be the unfortunate truth. -Fred Kirsch
I would make every effort to get as many young players involved in the game plan on both sides of the ball in order to gain more information about them moving forward. Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, Keion White, Marte Mapu, Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi … get them all as much experience as possible. -Paul Perillo
Offensively, I'd like to see them build on their recent success running the ball and make that the focal point. The Pats are third in rush EPA since Week 6. Run the ball and incorporate play-action/RPO off the run to stay on schedule. On defense, I'd like to see them let Josh Uche get back to hunting opposing quarterbacks. He's been too focused on containing rather than sacks this season. Let him cook! -Evan Lazar
I like what the guys are saying, seeing more of the young guys like Thornton and Mapu top my list but I also think we'll see the team lean even more heavily into their running game. It's the only part of the offense that looks like it's getting better at this point and I think Stevenson and Elliott should continue to see a ton of carries and targets. -Mike Dussault
No matter who is under center, what should the expectations be for the Patriots starting quarterback this weekend?
For the record, I disagree with the decision to take Mac Jones out of the game for the final drive in Germany with the game on the line. There might be information I'm not privy to that contributed to the decision but on the face of it, I would have given Mac that chance. That said, I'm guessing Mac will be the starter on Sunday but with a very short leash. It should be made clear to him that will be the case. How he deals with that pressure will be up to him. Bailey Zappe will be the back-up. The expectation for both Jones and Zappe will, as Coach Belichick said, to be ready to go. -FK
The quarterback needs to avoid turning the ball over and do a better job of hanging in the pocket to make plays, regardless of who it is. -PP
Manage the game. We can't expect the Pats QBs to win these games anymore, so manage the game, don't turn the ball over, and when the layups present themselves, make the easy throws. I'm not expecting much here. -EL
Just don't give the game away. I think we're back to that baseline. I wish I could hope for more, like taking the plays that are there, but we're starting with baby steps after the Colts game. -MD
Name one under-utilized Patriots player you'd like to see get a bunch of playing time over the last seven games.
Everyone's been seeing time these days but let's see more Keion White on all three downs. -FK
I'd like to see Mapu get some reps as a true linebacker instead of playing back at safety. The idea of a young, athletic player with the ability to make plays in the passing game at that position intrigues me. -PP
I'll stick with Uche. He's been getting his typical playing time, but the Pats pass-rusher is at his best when they give him free rein to go deep into his bag of pass rush moves. I get he wants to improve as an edge setter, but they need finishers on defense, and he's their best option without Judon. -EL
Give me more Mapu, and honestly, I don't even care if it is at safety. There's something intriguing about him still, despite a quiet rookie season. I'd love to see him in the mix more often with Dugger and Peppers. -MD
Which player's return to the lineup would provide the biggest boost – Trent Brown, J.C. Jackson or Ja'Whaun Bentley?
The defense has been holding its own despite the losses and time on the field. That's not to say Bentley and Jackson won't be additive to the efforts but adding Brown back to the offensive line is huge in every sense of the word. -FK
Probably Trent Brown assuming he's healthy enough to play at a higher level. The offensive line has certainly had its share of struggles without him. -PP
In this matchup, I'll say Bentley. The Giants have one blue chip player on offense and that's Saquon Barkley. They need to prevent Barkley, who had rushes of 36 and 31 yards last week, from hitting explosive runs. The Pats run defense did well without Bentley last week, but I'd like to see the Pats LB back. He has also had a good season as an interior blitzer, which they could use to help bolster the pass rush. -EL
I'm with Evan here, I think Bentley was an underrated missing piece against the Colts and one who I think might've made a play or two that could've made a difference in the game. Especially against Barkley, the Patriots will need their leader and tone setter in the middle. -MD
We're just past the halfway point of the NFL season, who do you project playing in Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas?
49ers and Ravens. -FK
Still a long way to go but I'll go with Baltimore and San Francisco. -PP
I'm taking Niners-Chiefs again. Although a team with a better quarterback could emerge in the NFC (Philly, Dallas), I trust those two teams the most to win in different ways to get through their respective conferences. I believe this is the year that Shanahan finally gets the Lombardi. -EL
Losing Mark Andrews is a major blow to the Ravens, I still think Mahomes-Kelce remains the most dangerous combination in the conference. I think it's a repeat of Super Bowl 54 – Chiefs vs. 49ers. -MD
Bonus Question: What is your favorite thing about New York?
Sauerkraut on hot dogs. -FK
Lots to choose from in New York … too bad the Giants play in Jersey. I'll go with seeing a play on Broadway … and the fact that the bars stay open all hours of the night. -PP
Ordering a pastrami sandwich on rye with matzo ball soup at Katz's deli. -EL
New York City at night, especially around Christmas is just really cool. -MD