WHAT IS THE HIDDEN KEY TO THE GAME?
New England wide receiver Brandin Cooks has quietly piled up some impressive statistics with 58 receptions for 984 yards through his first 14 games in New England. While he has struggled at times, he has become the big-play outside receiving threat that the offense desperately needed.
Next season, with Julian Edelman healthy to team with Rob Gronkowski and potentially Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan on the other side, the offense will be able to attack at all levels. For now, Cooks needs to make a couple of big plays downfield to help make up for the consistent chain-moving that Edelman provided.
Buffalo had numerous questions about their secondary this offseason after they traded their top cornerback Ronald Darby to Philadelphia. They drafted LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White in the first round and he has blossomed into a shutdown cornerback. E.J. Gaines was scooped up in the Sammy Watkins trade with Los Angeles and has played very well. Like in Carolina, head coach Sean McDermott’s unit has been stingy and have allowed just 11 passing touchdowns.
With Gaines questionable to play with a knee injury and White likely to cover Gronkowski again, Cooks could be covered by either journeyman Leonard Johnson or slot cornerback Shareece Wright in coverage. Cooks must get open downfield and make some big plays for the Patriots’ offense on Sunday.