3 personnel matchups that will decide how the Patriots start the season 

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots
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Christian Barmore vs. Alijah Vera-Tucker 

Barmore is another Patriots player who signed a big contract extension in the offseason. Vera-Tucker, on the other hand, won’t be 25 until June 17th and just had his fifth-year option picked up by the Jets. He doesn’t have to worry about contract negotiations until the 2025 season.  

The former USC offensive lineman earned a 71.7 grade from PFF in 2023. But that’s only half his story. After playing in 16 games in his rookie season, he has only played 12 in the last two seasons, and just five of those appearances came last year. In total, he was on the field for 250 snaps and only allowed two sacks, drawing just one penalty for a false start. 

On the other hand, Barmore played all 17 games in 2023 and has only missed seven in total during his three years in New England. He had a slow start to the 2023 season, though, with just one sack in the first six weeks. But when Barmore goes well, the team tends to do well too.

He recorded at least half a sack in all four of the Patriots’ victories in 2023. Crucially, his only multiple-sack game last season came on Christmas Eve when the Patriots defeated the Broncos on the road. 

If Barmore can get into the backfield and disrupt the Jets' offense, it will go a long way toward securing a vital divisional win at the beginning of the season. The Jets' defense will be tough to crack; they allowed just 20.9 points per game in 2023.

In the corresponding game last season, which coincidentally took place in Week 3, the Patriots ran out 15-10 victors despite Chad Ryland missing two field goal attempts. Another low-scoring affair is New England’s best shot at extending their eight-year unbeaten in New Jersey. 

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