Poor Al Michaels.
The change from NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to Amazon Prime’s “Thursday Night Football” has spelled a serious downgrade in high quality of video games for the legendary broadcaster, and this week’s matchup between the Patriots and Steelers might be among the many season’s worst.
Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is injured with a excessive ankle sprain, which means Mitch Trubisky is slated to begin. And Patriots starter Mac Jones was lastly completely demoted for backup Bailey Zappe final week.
Patriots-Steelers appeared prefer it had the potential to be a sneaky-good matchup with playoff implications when the season started. Now it’s honest to surprise if both staff will truly attain the top zone in a recreation pitting two of the NFL’s worst offenses towards one another.
Here are 4 Patriots gamers whose significance has grown because the season has gone alongside.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Expect beginning working again Rhamondre Stevenson to be out weeks, if not the rest of the season, with a excessive ankle sprain. That means a a lot greater function for Elliott with no different workhorse again behind him on the 53-man roster.
Ty Montgomery is a working again/broad receiver hybrid who has largely performed on particular groups this season, and just lately added working again JaMycal Hasty is undersized at 5-foot-8, 205 kilos. The staff does even have 2022 sixth-round decide Kevin Harris on the follow squad.
But count on most carries in Week 14 to go to Elliott, who has been stable however largely unspectacular in his first season with the Patriots. He’s forty seventh out of 61 certified working backs with 2.54 yards after carry per try. His 13 missed tackles pressured ranks forty third, and he has simply seven carries of 10-plus yards this season.
These closing 5 video games will function an audition of types for Elliott as he enters free company for the second straight offseason.
WR DeVante Parker
It was not a shock to see Parker have his most efficient recreation of the season in Zappe’s first begin final week. In eight video games through which Zappe has made appearances, Parker has been the Patriots’ most efficient pass-catcher with Zappe below heart as he’s caught 14 passes on 23 targets for 254 yards with a landing.
Parker obtained 9 of Zappe’s 25 passing makes an attempt in Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Chargers, catching 4 of them for 64 yards. The Patriots’ next-most productive receiver, Elliott, caught 4 passes on 5 targets for 40 yards.
Parker has disenchanted since signing a two-year contract extension with the Patriots within the offseason. His play may decide up, nonetheless, with Zappe taking on for Jones.
“DP is one of those guys who if you put it up there, he can go up and get it,” Zappe mentioned Tuesday.
S Jabrill Peppers
Peppers has not solely been one of many Patriots’ finest defensive playmakers this season, he’s additionally sometimes their final line of protection, main the staff in snaps at free security.
The Patriots’ protection has dominated usually over the past three weeks. They’ve been stout at defending towards massive performs all season.
They’ve allowed the sixth-fewest explosive performs per recreation this season and the fourth-fewest explosive dashing performs. The 37 explosive passing performs they’ve allowed ranks thirteenth.
Ok Chad Ryland
If you’ll be able to nonetheless discover humor in a 2-10 season, it was somewhat bit humorous that in the identical week that Matthew Wright was signed to the follow squad to supply competitors at kicker, the Patriots’ offense by no means acquired shut sufficient for Ryland to aim a kick.
That’s actually been a difficulty all season because the Patriots proceed to judge the fourth-round rookie out of Maryland. He ranks twenty ninth with 18 area aim makes an attempt and twenty eighth with simply 14 further level makes an attempt. To put that into higher context, Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins leads the NFL with 33 area aim makes an attempt. Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders leads the NFL with 49 further level makes an attempt. Ryland is thirty first in complete kicking makes an attempt as a result of the Patriots aren’t scoring sufficient touchdowns to get him further level makes an attempt and even getting shut sufficient to kick area targets.
So, it could be good for the Patriots to offer Ryland a number of probabilities to kick the ball Sunday towards the Steelers to show they don’t want to show to a veteran like Wright.