Patriots

Patriots vs. Ravens Instant Overreactions: Lamar Jackson emerges as MVP frontrunner

Patriots vs. Ravens Instant Overreactions: Lamar Jackson emerges as MVP frontrunner

The New England Patriots' unbeaten run ended Sunday night with a lackluster 37-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens dominated early and jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. The Patriots fought back and kept the score close for a while, but the Ravens outscored the defending Super Bowl champions 20-7 in the second half (including a 10-0 margin in the fourth quarter).

Here are five instant overreactions from the Patriots' first loss of the season.

1. Lamar Jackson should be the NFL MVP frontrunner
No player in the league is more crucial to his team's success than Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the MVP chants he received Sunday night were well-deserved. 

The second-year QB is not only an accurate passer -- he completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 163 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions Sunday night -- he's also a nightmare to tackle in the open field. The Ravens quarterback ran for 61 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns against the Patriots, and his dual-threat skill set gave New England's defense fits at several points throughout the game. 

I mean, how do you stop this? Jackson's moves in the video below are straight out of the "Madden NFL 20" videogame.

Jackson leads his team in passing and rushing yards. He entered Week 9 with the 10th-most rushing yards among all players, and he's well on his way to becoming the first quarterback in league history to throw for 3,000-plus yards and run for 1,000-plus yards in the same season. The Ravens are 6-2 as the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff race, and if they earn a first-round bye with Jackson playing at this level, he absolutely should win MVP.

2. The Patriots defense playing poorly against a real QB is a concern
Jackson is by far the best quarterback the Patriots defense has played all season, and the unit failed its first major test. He is the only QB not to throw an interception against the Patriots defense through nine games, and his 7.1 yards per attempt is the highest for one quarterback versus New England in 2019. 

Here's a look at how the Patriots defense played in the first eight games (during which they had the easiest schedule in the league based on opponents' win percentage) compared to what the Ravens did Sunday night.

The Patriots are going to face four really good quarterbacks after their Week 10 bye, including Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes. 

You can bet Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will use the film from this game to light a fire under his defense after it was humbled all night by the Ravens offense. Whether it was penalties (more on that below), struggling on third down, giving up almost six yards per play or failing to generate a consistent pass rush, Belichick is going to have an abundance of mistakes to highlight over the next 10 to 14 days with New England on a Week 10 bye. 

3. Isaiah Wynn better be able to stay healthy when he returns
Marshall Newhouse played poorly at left tackle for the Patriots, and it's clear that position is a weak spot going forward. Isaiah Wynn returned to practice this past week, and he is eligible to be activated from injured reserve and return to game action in Week 11 versus the Dallas Cowboys. Wynn impressed at left tackle in the preseason and up until he suffered a toe injury in Week 2, but his inability to stay healthy is a concern. The Patriots will be in trouble if Newhouse is forced to start at left tackle the rest of the campaign.

4. Mohamed Sanu was the NFL's most important trade-deadline pickup
The Patriots paid a steep price -- a 2020 second-round draft pick -- to acquire Sanu in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons a week before the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline, but it was well worth it. Julian Edelman is having a tremendous season and played very well against the Ravens, but he can't do it all himself. Another wide receiver must step up and be a consistently reliable target for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and Sanu is emerging as that player. Sanu totaled 10 receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets versus Baltimore. It was a huge improvement from the two receptions and 23 yards he tallied in his debut for New England last week. It appears Brady already has plenty of trust in Sanu, who's making a better early impact than most veteran wideouts do after jumping into a complex New England offense.

5. Patriots run defense is a massive problem
The Patriots run defense struggled last week against the Cleveland Browns, allowing 159 yards on 22 carries (7.9 yards per rush). Browns running back Nick Chubb did most of the work with 131 yards on 20 carries (although he did fumble twice).

Sunday night's performance was even worse.

The Ravens carved up the Pats on the ground by tallying 210 yards on 41 attempts. New England entered Week 9 ranked 21st in yards allowed per carry (4.6), and that number got even worse after Sunday's result. Baltimore had two second half drives that lasted longer than seven minutes, and New England's run defense was a huge reason for the Ravens dominating time of possession 37:01 to 22:59 on the night.

The Patriots have allowed 378 yards on 61 rushing attempts (6.2 yards per carry) over the last two games. The coaching staff must figure out a solution over the bye week because the defending champs still have several games left on their schedule against players who can run the ball effectively. This list includes the Philadelphia Eagles' running back duo of Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon and Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore.

Opening betting lines for every Week 10 NFL game revealed>>>

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Separating fact from fiction of NFL's investigation of Patriots film crew

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File photo

Separating fact from fiction of NFL's investigation of Patriots film crew

So what’s the skinny with the Patriots having a videographer’s tape confiscated in Cleveland?

Here’s what we know: Kraft Sports Productions, which produces content for Patriots.com, does a “Do Your Job” series in which they track various team personnel at work. 

This particular episode was supposed to feature an advanced scout. So the videographer — in a move that probably lacked foresight — was filming the scout when the Cleveland Browns hosted the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. 

The footage is aimed at showing the inner workings of what the scout does, but in no way was it a reprise of the sideline videotaping the Patriots were found guilty of engaging in back in 2007. 

Some called that “Spygate.”

The NFL has reportedly confiscated the tape from Sunday. The Browns were alerted because it was their press box. The Bengals were not. 

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NFL investigating Patriots having film crew at Bengals-Browns game

NFL investigating Patriots having film crew at Bengals-Browns game

For a brief moment, it appeared Spygate 2.0 could be unfolding.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a member of the media asked Bengals head coach Zac Taylor during his Monday press conference about a rumor involving the New England Patriots filming Cincinnati's sideline during its Week 14 road game versus the Cleveland Browns. Taylor said the league is investigating the situation, and the Bengals noted the same thing in a statement given to the MMQB's Albert Breer:

Shortly after Taylor's remarks, Twitter was set ablaze with fans accusing the Patriots of cheating. However, further details have emerged on the situation, and it appears the Patriots were just filming something for a feature/documentary. 

Here's the latest information, via ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini, as well as NFL Media's Ian Rapoport:

Aside from the Patriots' history involving the Spygate scandal, this whole situation is relevant because New England plays the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. The Bengals enter Week 15 with a league-worst 1-12 record. The Patriots, or any team, for that matter, don't need to do anything illegal like filming the Bengals' signals in order to beat them.

It sure sounds like this whole ordeal was the result of miscommunication between the involved parties.

Updated NFL playoff picture entering Week 15>>>

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