13. New York Jets (AWAY – Week 9)
Because it ended with a Wild Card game against the Titans — which subsequently ended in a loss — as well as the ultimate blow of losing Tom Brady in free agency, the 2019 season probably won’t be looked back on with fond memories from Patriots fans anytime soon … or anywhere down the road in years to come.
But if you want to look at last season anyway and circle the high points — Brady and Brown making magic down in Miami to the tune of 43-0, New England opening up their title defense with a 33-3 undressing of Pittsburgh, hard-fought wins against Dallas and Philadelphia — I think the biggest highlight of all came on Monday Night Football of Week 7.
Colloquially-speaking, this was the “seeing ghosts” game from last year.
New England’s defense, then the story of the league, had started calling themselves “The Boogeymen.” Legitimate NFL analysts and writers openly wondered about whether the 2019 Patriots would go on to represent the greatest defense the league had ever seen, rivaling the Ravens of the 2000s, Bears of the 80s, Steelers of the 70s, etc.
Suffice it to say, that narrative came to a screeching halt courtesy of the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes last year.
But the Jets’ Sam Darnold embodied better than anyone else the frustrations and vexations of trying to play quarterback against the Patriots defense under Bill Belichick last season.
New York was fresh off notching their first win of the season — which coincided with Darnold’s first game back from mono, an impressive Week 6 victory over the Cowboys. Confidence was high at MetLife Stadium that Monday night.
And then the Patriots defense utterly confused and horrified Darnold to the tune of a career-high four interceptions. New York lost 33-0 on their home turf.
What should be different in 2020? Sure, Tom Brady’s gone … but this is largely the same Jets offense and the same Patriots defense from 2019. Expect New England to sweep New York again this year.