The Rams will take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Jared Goff will make his third career start this week. Playing on the road in New England is a hard challenge for any quarterback, let alone a rookie. Meanwhile, the Patriots will need to reinvent their offensive strategy now that all-pro tight end, Rob Gronkowski, is out for the rest of the season with a herniated disk. This matchup will kick off at 1:00 PM. ET.
Last week, Gronkowski exited the game with an injury. The initial reports were positive, and he appeared to remain sidelined for precautionary reasons. Later this week, it was announced that Gronkowski had, in fact, herniated a disk in his lower back. Gronkowski opted to have surgery and will likely not return this season. This is a devastating blow to New England’s offense and Super Bowl aspirations. Without Gronkowski, the Patriots will need to lean heavily on other weapons in the Patriots offensive arsenal.
The Patriots are known for frequently using two tight end formations. With players like Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, the Patriots offense has a number of ways it can attack a defense. Both of those players are tremendous pass blockers, as well as, receivers. With Gronkowski out of the lineup, the Patriots will need to rely on Bennett. Unfortunately, he’s had his own injury issues this season. When Bennett is healthy, he’s a more than adequate substitute for Gronkowski on the field.
This week against the Rams, the Patriots won’t have a fully healthy Bennett, and while they’d like to integrate him more into the game plan, at least this week, that doesn’t seem likely. With a shift in offensive philosophy away from multiple tight end sets, the Patriots may shift to more multiple receiver sets. New England has several weapons at receiver. It’s perhaps the first time in the Brady and Belichick era that they’ve ever had this deep of a receiving core.
Last week against the Jets, the biggest playmaker for the Patriots offense was the rookie Malcom Mitchell. Over the years, the Patriots have struggled with developing young receivers. Not since the 2002 draft class that included the likes of Deon Branch and David Givens have the Patriots been able to develop their own receivers. Malcom Mitchell might end that streak. So far this season, he has 16 receptions for 235 yards and three touchdowns. While those numbers aren’t really that impressive, it’s more about the opportunities. Brady won’t throw to receivers he doesn’t trust. Last week against the Jets, Brady targeted him seven times and Mitchell rewarded Brady’s trust with a five catch, two touchdown performance.
Mitchell and Amendola will likely receive an increase in targets. But, the biggest impact player for the Patriots, in a post Gronkowski world, is Dion Lewis. The Patriots don’t like to go vertical often. They’re an offense that beats an opposing defense by a thousand cuts. And with Gronkowski sidelined, Lewis is now the Patriots premier matchup problem. Against the Jets, Lewis and James White both had eight targets. Lewis is an elusive playmaker that has incredible instincts. Against the Rams this week, expect Lewis to continue to have a major impact on the Patriots’ offense.
The Patriots offense might take some time to adjust to life without Gronkowski, and in the mean time, they’ll face a Rams squad that’s no slouch on defense. Los Angeles allows the 9th fewest yards per game according to NFL Stats. In comparison, New England ranks 14th this season. But, the Patriots have the better defense in terms of points per game. New England ranks 3rd in fewest points per game according to NFL Stats. In comparison, the Rams rank 12th this season.
Patriots Vs Rams Betting Lines
The Patriots are favored by about two touchdowns and that’s reasonable. The Rams will need to travel from the west coast to the cold north east, and that’s never easy. Tom Brady is one win away from breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for most career wins by a single player. Expect a motivated Brady to get this offense going quickly on their way to another victory.
Play: Patriots -13 @ BetOnline.ag