The New England Patriots will be hosting a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. The 4-6 Patriots come into the game Sunday a little disappointed after last week's performance. Week 10 made it seem like everything might be turning around for the better, but then Week 11 proved otherwise.
Now, New England officially stares down the barrel of suffering their seventh loss of the season. One that would cap their best record at 9-7.
Let's see which players have to show up for the Patriots to avoid their seventh loss.
Isaiah Wynn has been ruled out for this week's matchup against the Cardinals, which is a big blow to the depth chart. Wynn had been playing great football as he hoped to get through this season injury-free. Unfortunately, Wynn would go down in pain last week on the turf and not return.
Eluemunor is likely to step in, who originally came in to start for Marcus Cannon's right tackle spot at the beginning of the year. He came in and held his own. Doing a good job at right tackle duties. The only reason he is not there now is due to the excellent, rather unexpected play of Michael Ownewu.
Now, Eluemunor will be moving over to the left tackle spot, facing an Arizona defense that blitzes at the highest rate they've seen all year. Eluemunor will certainly have a test ahead of him to keep Newton protected in the pocket.
Dugger will be key to shutting down Arizona running game, which is centered around quarterback Kyler Murray. Expect Dugger to hold the role of spy on Murray to prevent him from getting out of the pocket and extending plays. While it seems like a big task for a rookie, Dugger's snap counts have been increasing every game and Dugger has been playing lights out. The first-year safety/linebacker has been hitting hard and hitting everything in sight.
The hope is that Dugger and Adrian Phillips will be able to take on that hybrid linebacker role once again to shut down the run game for Arizona. The main focus for the New England defense against an ailing Murray is to make him one-dimensional and throw into tight windows all game.
Eyes will be on Byrd this week to see if he can pick up where he left off in Week 11 vs. the Texans. Byrd will likely be drawing cornerback Patrick Peterson this Sunday, a former teammate of his. With Peterson not playing his best football right now, it would not be too difficult to surmise Byrd having another good game this week.
A lot of Byrd's success against the Cardinals may also be intertwined with the attention that Arizona pays Jakobi Meyers. As discussed in this week's film review on Byrd, it was the attention being paid to Meyers in the Houston game that opened up Byrd for big plays. Meyers will likely be covered by Byron Murphy on Sunday.
However Byrd does end up finding success, doing so in back-to-back games would be huge for the Patriots' offense. That's especially as Julian Edelman is set to return to the lineup within the coming weeks.