Three key matchups to watch as Patriots go for third win in a row
By Fran Brown
Key matchups for the Patriots in week seven
Jalen Mills vs. Darnell Mooney
I mentioned how inept the Bears’ passing attack is but if there is one person for the Patriots defense to really focus on, it’s Darnell Mooney. A 1,000-yard receiver a year ago, Mooney has picked up 237 of his 241 yards over the past four weeks after a slow start in the first two weeks of the season. Another reason to focus on Mooney: he has over 100 more receiving yards than the next highest Chicago receiver (Dante Pettis, 135 yards). In last week’s Thursday night loss to Washington, Mooney saw a season-high 12 targets from Fields (of his 27 pass attempts) as he is the lone big passing threat for them right now.
After struggling to start the season both with performance and injury, Mills had a bounce back game last week in Cleveland. He was able to hold Browns receiver Amari Cooper in check as he caught just four of 12 targets, and his touchdown grab came with Myles Bryant in coverage. Mills gave up just three receptions on eight targets and added his second interception of the season on an underthrow from Jacoby Brissett. If Mills is able to shut down Mooney on Monday night, that will erase their passing threat and allow the rest of the defense to focus on stopping the run.