Tuesday Talking Points: Monday Night Football in the Meadowlands

The Patriots carry a perfect record into a Monday night matchup in the Meadowlands with the division rival Jets. Here’s what you should be talking about.

The Patriots have survived all six opponents they’ve faced this season. Last Thursday, they faced their opponent on an extremely short week. This time around, New England gets an extended week to prepare for their division rivals: the New York Jets.

The Patriots have had a relatively smooth schedule to this point in the season. However, as the weather gets colder, the opponents get tougher… and being the reigning Super Bowl champions with an undefeated record to start the year, perhaps that should only be expected.

As the halfway point of the season approaches, New England makes a pit stop at MetLife Stadium to take on the second of the NFL’s “New York City” teams, the Jets. The first time around, the Jets looked a little bit different, but then again, so did the Patriots. Here’s what you should be talking about when the Pats battle the Jets in the Meadowlands.

Sam Darnold must not be taken lightly

Back in Week 3 when the Jets came to Gillette Stadium, they brought a third-string, sixth-round draft pick at quarterback Luke Falk. This time around, they’ll feature Sam Darnold, who will be making just his second start since returning from a war with mononucleosis.

Darnold is the real deal, and Bill Belichick will be the first one to tell you that. He just popped the Cowboys in the mouth and put the preseason Super Bowl favorite of many on their heels. Throwing for 338 yards and two touchdowns in a win is impressive, but he’s going up against the No. 1 defense in the league this week.

Nonetheless, he – and the Jets – are not to be taken lightly.

Is the offense actually in trouble?

It seems a little ludicrous to slander the Patriots offense when you look at the stats. This is a group that boasts the No. 1 scoring offense in the league (31.7 points per game), and it’s also eighth in yards per game (386.3). However, when you put Tom Brady and company through the eye test, it doesn’t appear to be the normal, smooth-sailing offense we’re used to watching.

Could a lack of personnel and a short week have been part of it? Sure. But the play-calling has also been suspect as of late, and Brady appears to be growing frustrated with the young receiving core and the lack of time he has to throw, whether he says it to reporters out loud or not.

The key to New England’s success last year that hasn’t carried over to this year is the running game. The Pats’ rushing attack ranks 21st in the league, averaging 101.5 yards on the ground per contest. That number will have to rise for New England to thrive, and Sony Michel is going to have to be at the forefront. However, you can’t run the football without an offensive line, so both go hand-in-hand.

If the struggles continue past this week, there may be cause for concern.

How long can the Pats stay perfect?

New England is one of two teams in the NFL with an unblemished record, a perfect 6-0. But the question remains: how long can it last?

The Patriots of course travel to play the Jets this week, but following that, they’ll host the Browns, then go to Baltimore before hitting their bye week. After the break, they’ll face two NFC East teams, including a Super Bowl LII rematch in the Eagles, and the Cowboys as pre-Thanksgiving “appetizers.”

Like I mentioned earlier, the schedule only gets tougher from here, and that’s when we’ll really see what this Patriots squad is made of. Until then, we’re on to New York.

What are YOU talking about leading up to the Patriots’ date at MetLife next week? Let us know in the comments section below!