BOSTON -- The Patriots are not playing a spectacular brand of football at the moment, but they're winning on their defense and special teams. It's not exactly the kind of football that screams "PUT US ON NATIONAL TV!," but the football world is about to see a lot of the New England Patriots.
Thursday night's Thanksgiving matchup with the Vikings is the first of four straight games the Patriots will play on national tv in prime time. There are about to be a lot of eyeballs on Bill Belichick and his team.
New England has won three straight and sit at 6-4 on the season, putting them in the six-seed in the AFC. The Vikings suffered just their second loss of the season Sunday, getting blown out by the Cowboys to the tune of 40-3.
No one seems to be too high on the Patriots and their postseason odds, but people are really questioning the Vikings at the moment. And with Kirk Cousins just 10-18 in his primetime appearances, the Patriots have a chance to steal an important road win before they get to enjoy their Thanksgiving spread.
Will New Englanders be giving thanks to Belichick and company late Thursday night? Or will we be reaching for a second (or third or fourth) piece of pie to help cope with a tough loss? Here's how the WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sport team sees Thursday night in Minnesota playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Turkey day football, there's nothing like it. While they'll have to wait to get to an actual Thanksgiving table, Matthew Judon and the Patriots' defense is planning on feasting on the Vikings on Thursday night.
The New England offense is also hungry, which is why they are focusing on scoring in the red zone. Minnesota was just embarrassed by Dallas, but this could be a tight one to close out your turkey day.
Patriots 21, Vikings 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
If you watched the Cowboys handle the Vikings on Sunday, it would seem to be the blueprint for the Patriots to try to pull of a Thanksgiving night win. Matthew Judon needs to be Micah Parsons, particularly on third down. (Parsons recovered a strip-sack on Kirk Cousins on the first third down of the game.) Get to Cousins while the secondary doubles up on Justin Jefferson.
On offense, Mac Jones needs to be efficient again, but the Patriots need to score in the red zone. If that happens, New England has a shot
Patriots 24, Vikings 17
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
This game will feature a ton of sacks. Sacks, sacks, and more sacks. The Vikings just gave up seven sacks to Dallas, losing their left tackle in the process. The Patriots just gave up six sacks, losing their left tackle in the process.
Perhaps Kevin O'Connell and Co. are better-equipped to dial up a simplified game plan on a short week to get the ball out of Kirk Cousins' hands quickly. But an overwhelming pass rush can really disrupt things, no matter what a plan may be.
I do think this game will end up being as ugly as Sunday's Jets game. But the Patriots love ugly games.
Patriots 16, Vikings 13
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
If you're hoping for a relaxing evening while you digest everything that you gobbled up throughout the day on Thursday, that's not going to happen. The Vikings only play close games (unless they are getting blown out), and the Patriots offense can't seem to find the end zone.
Mac Jones is due for a good game after a solid performance Sunday against the Jets. The Minnesota D is allowing 267.3 yards per game -- second-most in the NFL -- so the offense should be able to move the ball. The big concern, though, is the makeshift offensive line that is trying to protect Jones at the moment. He's been sacked 16 times over the last three games, and may get sacked 16 times on Thursday night.
But as long as the Patriots keep the ball away from a defense that has 18 takeaways on the season, and Judon, Wise, and company apply equal amounts of pressure on Kirk Cousins, New England should be in good shape to pick up their fourth straight win. Cousins stinks with the national spotlight on him, and the Patriots defense must be salivating after watching film of the Vikings QB hit the turf seven times against Dallas.
Patriots 24, Vikings 21
WBZ-TV has everything to get you ready for Thursday night's Patriots-Vikings clash! Coverage begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Patriots All Access, and continues at 9:30 p.m. on TV38 with Patriots 1st Down. We get you ready Thursday night with Patriots GameDay at 5:30 p.m., and after the game switch back to WBZ-TV for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!
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