FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Mac Jones era in New England began with a loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday. A late fumble cost the Patriots the chance to win in front of a sold-out Gillette Stadium as the Dolphins held on for a 17-16 victory.
Jones certainly had all eyes on him in his NFL debut. The rookie quarterback threw for 281 yards, one touchdown, and completed 29 of 39 passes.
Damien Harris' fumble inside the Miami 10-yard line with three minutes left will be the play many Patriots fans remember from Week 1, but the running back also rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries.
As head coach Bill Belichick would say, we're on to New York. The Patriots will take on the Jets on the road Sunday at 1 p.m. for another AFC East divisional game.
This week, "Locked On: Patriots" podcast host Mike D'Abate shares his thoughts with NEWS CENTER Maine's Sam Rogers on the Week 1 loss, talks about why this game against the Jets is a "must-win", and tells us what the Patriots need to do to get their first win of the season.
It will be another young quarterback matchup this week as rookie Zach Wilson will get his first test against a Bill Belichick-coached team. If he becomes the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be, he better get used to it.
Wilson and the Jets also dropped a close game in their season opener. New York lost 19-14 against the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold was traded away from the Jets to make room for Wilson as the starting QB.
Wilson threw for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in his NFL debut. He completed 20 of 37 passes. No Jet had more than 25 yards on the ground and Corey Davis led the team in receiving yards with 97 on five catches with two touchdowns.
Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay
No shocker here. Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champion Bucs come to Foxborough for what could likely be the most-watched regular-season game in NFL history. Tampa Bay started off the season with a thrilling Week 1 win over Dallas and if Patriots fans know anything, it’s that Brady gets better as the season goes on. New England will have three weeks to bring their game up to Tampa’s level to give the tilt a fitting display of competitive play that can match the hype leading up to the game.
Weeks 13 & 16 against Buffalo
The betting favorite to win the AFC East is the Buffalo Bills. The team led by Josh Allen made it to the AFC Championship game last season and is expected to make it to that point again, if not advance to the Super Bowl. For that reason, beating Buffalo at least once would give New England a huge lift in its goal to reclaim the division throne or make the playoffs as a wildcard. Both teams will have plenty of time to prepare for their first meeting on Monday, Dec. 6. New England enters its bye week after the game and will see the Bills in Foxborough again the day after Christmas.
Weeks 6 & 12 hosting Dallas and Tennessee
The game against Brady will bring all the attention, but another good offensive team will come to town a few weeks later when the Cowboys play the Patriots on Oct. 17. If Thursday’s game showed anything to the NFL, it’s that Dallas's offense will be one of the best units in the league and could make this matchup for New England one to circle in the first half of the season.
The Titans come to Gillette on Nov. 28 and will bring yet another impressive collection of offensive weapons. Running back Derrick Henry and wide receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown will give steady quarterback Ryan Tannehill enough weapons to return to the playoffs and give the Patriots defense all they can handle in week 12.
Week 10 vs. Cleveland: Hype around the Browns has been a consistent trend this preseason. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. give defensive coordinators a lot to game plan for if they're on their game. The storyline of this Browns team might be the defensive play, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garret. It will be another test for the Patriots in the middle of the season.
Week 18 @ Miami.
The Patriots' Achilles heel in recent memory has been playing on the road against the Dolphins. With a divisional race that is expected to be closer than years past between Miami, New England, and Buffalo, this season finale could give the Patriots a playoff spot with a win, or even clinch the division. Potentially.