At 6-4, the Patriots enter one of their toughest stretches of the season. You can watch on NBC or listen on 98.5 in the Boston area.
But on Thursday night, New England face the 8-2 Vikings on the road in Minnesota.
The Patriots haven’t played on Thanksgiving in a decade (yes, their most recent Turkey Day game included this infamous play ).
We’ll be offering live updates and analysis throughout. Follow along below.
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Vikings 7, Patriots 0 | 10:40, first quarter
Follow along with us.
I know the stats suggest that this should be a Minnesota win. The Vikings, playing so well until a couple of weeks ago, are at home and they are mostly healthy. But it feels as if — at least for the better part of the last 30 years — the Patriots have always managed to get the better of Minnesota. Going all the way back to that 1994 classic, New England has seemingly always found a way to depants the Vikings.
There are serious issues about the state of the New England offense, and specifically the offensive line. (I have to imagine that Belichick has placed at least one or two calls to Dante Scarnecchia over the last few weeks.) And they cannot turn the ball over. But with defense and special teams, and just enough of a running game, I think we’ll see a repeat of just about every Patriots-Vikings game of the last 20-plus years. As long as they don’t turn the ball over.
In the end, Justin Jefferson gets his, but the New England defense contains the rest of the Minnesota attack, the Patriots get another dose of special teams magic, and they get some quality yardage on the ground from Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. I’ll say Patriots 21, Vikings 17.
As long as they don’t turn the ball over.
A few takeaways from Bill Belichick’s pregame chat with Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub:
On beating the Jets:
“It was a hard fought game against the Jets like it always is. It’s always a battle,” he said. “It was a great team win. Great for [the special teams] to step up and be the difference in that game.”
On turnaround, having won five of six:
“Each week has been a little different,” he said. “We’ve had a diffrent formula [in each game]. Hopefully we can find a way to [win] again today.”
On the return of offensive tackle Conor McDermott, who the Patriots signed off the Jets’ practice squad:
“It’s nice to have him back. Nice to work with him. … We’re a little light at tackle here.”
On the Vikings:
“Jefferson and Cook are two of the best players in the league at their positions. … Cousins can really spread the ball around. … [on defense], they’re good on all three levels. They’re a good team. There’s a reason they’re 8-2.
On what he has to be thankful for:
“Everything really. Just the opportunity to have a great family, to be the coach of the New England Patriots, to be in New England, and to have so many great players, coaches, and staff people to work with.”
When he was drafted by the Patriots in 2008, Kevin O’Connell wanted to follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps. Instead, he’s following in Bill Belichick’s.
The first-year head coach of the 8-2 Minnesota Vikings, O’Connell is going to match wits and ways with his old coach Thursday in Minneapolis. Those who have first-hand experience with Belichick’s secret sauce fare better than most. Half the Hoodie battle is walking the fine line between respect and intimidation.
The 37-year-old O’Connell is Belichick Tree adjacent. He observed and absorbed the Belichick Way during his brief time in Foxborough as a backup quarterback, but his NFL coaching apprenticeships came elsewhere. Still, that time in New England left an impression.
Read the rest of Christopher L. Gasper’s column here.
Patriots fans, consider this a clip and save chart for who you should root for when you watch the NFL this weekend.
Ravens (7-3) at Jaguars (3-7): It’s a long shot, but a New England win Thursday and a Jacksonville upset on Sunday would leave the Patriots and Ravens tied at 7-4. (Baltimore would earn the tiebreaker because of head-to-head action.)
Bengals (6-4) at Titans (7-3): Two schools of thought. Are the Patriots (6-4) chasing the Titans? Or more concerned about being caught by the Bengals? I’d suggest New England would benefit more from a Tennessee win, but I can be talked into the alternative.
Texans (1-8-1) at Dolphins (7-3): Everything that stands in the previous game goes for this one. Lovie Smith and Houston could provide a boost for the Patriots if they can find a way to upend Tua and the Dolphins.
Bears (3-8) at Jets (6-4): This one is about separation — if New England wins and Chicago beats New York, the Pats could start to get some distance between themselves and the Jets.
Chargers (5-5) at Cardinals (4-7): Los Angeles has struggled the last few weeks, dropping out of the playoff picture. Another loss could deal an early blow to their postseason chances, and create more possibilities for New England.
A few numbers to consider when it comes to tonight’s game:
▪ Tonight starts a stretch of four primetime games for the Patriots. It’ll be the most consecutive primetime contests in franchise history; in 2007, the Patriots had three straight primetime games.
New England will be just the third team since 2000 to play four consecutive primetime games, joining the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2016 Dallas Cowboys.
▪ The Patriots have not allowed a touchdown in their last two games. If they do not allow a touchdown this evening against the Vikings, it would mark the first time since 2019 when New England has gone three straight games without yielding a touchdown.
▪ If the Patriots win this evening, it would be Bill Belichick’s first career win at U.S. Bank Stadium. Belichick has won at least one game in 50 different stadiums (including the playoffs), but he has yet to win a game at U.S. Bank Stadium and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. (Andy Reid is second with wins in 43 different stadiums.)
▪ If Devin McCourty has one interception tonight, he’d move into first place on the list of active players with the most interceptions. He has 33, tied with the Vikings’ Harrison Smith.
▪ With four field goals tonight against Minnesota, Nick Folk would become the fifth kicker in franchise history to connect for 100 field goals.
▪ If he averages 6 yards or more per carry tonight, Rhamondre Stevenson would become the first Patriots’ running back to average 6 or more yards per carry three times in a single season since Dion Lewis did it in 2017. (The franchise record is four games, set by Carl Garrett in 1969.)
▪ If Tyquan Thornton has a rushing touchdown tonight, he will become the first Patriots wide receiver with two rushing touchdowns in the same season and would join Darryl Stingley as the only other Patriots wide receiver with two rushing touchdowns for his Patriots career.
The Patriots have just announced their inactives for tonight.
Center David Andrews (thigh) worked to return after a brutal injury last week against the Jets. He was questionable coming into this weekend, but he’ll be inactive for New England this evening. It’s a big loss. James Ferentz will likely get the start in Andrews’ place.
Tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot) was ruled out going into the weekend, making a dicey situation for New England even more difficult. The Patriots will likely lean on Yodny Cajuste and Trent Brown to fill the tackle roles, but between Wynn and Andrews being out, New England cannot afford an injury along the line tonight.
Bill Murray, who was recently elevated to the 53-man roster, will likely get the bulk of the reps in Andrews’s absence. (You don’t make a personnel move like that unless you plan to use him.)
Healthy scratches include three of the usuals — cornerback Shaun Wade, safety Joshuah Bledsoe, and running back Kevin Harris — as well as defensive tackle Sam Roberts.
Among the notable actives are defensive back/returner Marcus Jones (ankle) and wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee), both of whom were listed as questionable coming into the weekend, but both are suited up and ready to go.
On the other side, the Vikings will be without defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who was questionable coming into the game with a calf injury. His absence could be a boon for New England’s ground attack.
Most of the betting outlets have the Vikings as a 2.5-point favorite heading into tonight’s action, which isn’t a huge surprise, with a consensus over/under set at 42.5.
A few wagering numbers to consider, from Odds Shark:
New England is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven games.
The total has gone under in four of New England’s last six games.
New England are 5-1 straight up in their last 6 games.
The total has gone under in 12 of New England’s last 18 games on the road.
The total has gone over in 12 of Minnesota’s last 18 games.
Minnesota is 7-1 straight up in its last eight games.
Minnesota is 5-1 straight up in its last six games at home.
Vote in this Twitter poll ...
Or tell us in the comments.
Weather won’t be an issue this evening, as tonight marks the first dome game of the season for New England, and the first game completely inside (with the roof closed) since Dec. 18, 2021, when the Patriots faced the Colts in Indianapolis.
New England has won three of its last four games inside. The Pats went 3-1 last season with wins over Atlanta, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Houston Texans.
Alex Kemp will serve as the referee for tonight’s game between the Patriots and Vikings.
The son of former NFL official Stan Kemp, Kemp is in his fifth season as an NFL referee. This will mark his first Patriots game of the season, and his first since January when his crew worked a 33-24 Miami win over New England.
According to NFL penalties, on average, Kemp’s crew calls the fourth-most penalties of any group, checking in at an average of 13.11 per game. (By way of comparison, Clete Blakeman’s crew leads the pack at 14.30 per game.)
The numbers also show that Kemp’s crew calls things down the middle; he averages the exact same number of calls per game on the home team as the visitors (6.56 per team).
Best way to get ready for tonight’s game? Your pregame reading list:
Christopher L. Gasper: Kevin O’Connell was drafted by Bill Belichick in 2008. Now he’s facing him as a head coach.
Chad Finn: Is this Patriots team ready for prime time? We’ll start finding out on Thanksgiving against the Vikings.
Ben Volin: Patriots defense has been impressive — but now the schedule gets real
Nicole Yang: Patriots tackle Isaiah Wynn is ruled out for Thursday’s game with foot injury
Chad Finn: Melissa Stark has fit in nicely on NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’
Good evening, and welcome back to football. Hopefully, you’re stuffed from turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie, but you’ve left some room for what promises to be a great ballgame between the Patriots and Vikings.
Can New England keep winning with special teams and defense? Can Minnesota bounce back from last Sunday’s ugly loss to Dallas? We’ll find out this evening as the Patriots play their first Thanksgiving game since 2012.
So sit back, relax, put on your stretchy pants and enjoy the game; we’ll have all the pregame news and analysis, in-game updates, and the most important postgame quotes from both teams.
Christopher Price can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.
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