We almost hit on a few bold predictions last week (hey, Mac Jones WAS trying to get DaVante Parker a touchdown on his interception!) but alas we came up empty. With the Patriots headed to Pittsburgh, here are my five predictions for what we might see in week 2.
Rhamondre Stevenson catches at least 5 passes
With Ty Montgomery on IR, there is a void in the role of passing back on the Patriots as Mac Jones targeted Montgomery four times in week 1, with the running back securing three receptions as well as the only Patriots touchdown. With Harris as the lead back, I expect Stevenson to have a bigger opportunity in the passing game. Against an aggressive defensive front, the Bengals running backs caught 10 balls in Week 1.
A tight end scores a touchdown for Patriots
Last week, the Patriots made an effort to get tight end Jonnu Smith involved, targeting him four times, including once in the red zone. I think he will continue to become a bigger focal point within the offense, especially if the wideouts continue to struggle. Hunter Henry set a career-high with nine touchdowns a season ago and should still be Jones’ #1 target in the redzone. I expect the Patriots to have more than one redzone possession like they did in week 1.
Patriots win the turnover battle
These teams had very different results in the turnover department in week 1, as the Patriots finished -3, while the Steelers were +5. I don’t think Jones will throw the four interceptions that Joe Burrow threw last week, and I think the Patriots defense can capitalize on opportunities that they couldn’t quite cash in on a week ago. There were a few fumbles they couldn’t quite gather and two interceptions they couldn’t come down with (Tyreek Hill snatched one from Jack Jones and Myles Bryant knocked one away from Devin McCourty).
Patriot defense holds Mitch Trubisky under 200 yards passing
Trubisky threw 38 times against the Bengals last week, and could only muster 194 yards through the air. I think the Patriots pass rush will be able to get to Trubisky on Sunday, and they have enough in the secondary to take away the big plays that we saw the Dolphins make in week 1.
Patriots are able to run for over 125 yards
The Patriots were only able to accumulate 78 yards on the ground against Miami last week as seven of their 21 carries (not including one kneel down) went for either no gain or negative yardage. While they face a good Pittsburgh defense, the Bengals had success in the running game rushing for 133 yards on 34 carries (nearly four yards a pop). With questions surrounding the back of Mac Jones, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lean on the run game at times on Sunday.