The New England Patriots have a lot of respect for the wide receivers of the Detroit Lions, calling them the best group they have faced this season.
The New England Patriots got torched through the air in Week 2. The Jacksonville Jaguars aerial attack, led by Blake Bortles, lit up the Patriots secondary.
The Patriots defeated the Jaguars in the 2018 AFC Championship game in large part because Jacksonville wouldn’t put the ball in Bortles’ hands. They did not make that mistake twice, and Bortles delivered.
Bortles completed 29-of-45 passes for 376 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook both had big games at wide receiver. Cole caught seven passes for 116 yards and one touchdown. Westbrook added four receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown that went for 61 yards.
New England had no answer for Jacksonville through the air. Eric Rowe was benched in the debacle. However, things will not be getting any easier.
Despite their 0-2 record, the Detroit Lions present some major problems for the Patriots. Namely, their wide receiver core. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay are as good of any trio in the NFL.
The Patriots are aware of their talent and have a lot of respect for their receivers. Rowe believes this is the best group that New England will have faced this season.
"“I think right now, this is probably the best corps,” Eric Rowe said of the Lions on Wednesday in the Patriots locker room. “Obviously, it’s only Week 3. But Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and [Kenny] Golliday — they’re all deep threats. They’re all fast. They’re all explosive. This is going to be our biggest test for the secondary, because it’s the best corps that we’re seeing right now.”"
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The Houston Texans have a great wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins but were able to keep Deshaun Watson in check. However, the Patriots caught a break against them, as Wil Fuller was sidelined with an injury.
As a result, the Lions are the best group of receivers the Patriots have faced this season, and could be the best group they face all season.
Head coach Bill Belichick shared most of the same sentiment as Rowe.
"“[They have] very good receivers,” Belichick said. “Tate, Jones, Golladay are all good after the catch. They’re strong runners, so the tackling is – it’s not just keeping them from getting the ball in the passing game but tackling after the catches will be challenging, too.”"
While there are singular receivers that may be better than Tate, Jones and Golladay, the trio work well together. Their differing skill sets make them difficult to defend. Tate is a master in the slot, Jones is a proven veteran and Golladay is a budding star.
New England will have to have a better performance in the secondary is they want to pick up their second win of the season. Detroit will be hungry to get the first victory of the Matt Patricia era. You can be sure that Patricia will have the Lions extra motivated to play against his former team.