Patriots -3 a Smart NFL Pick Over Packers in Preseason Opener

Troy West

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 8:17 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 8:17 PM UTC

Both the Packers and Patriots kick-off their preseason openers Thursday in a battle that, by some indications, could be a Super Bowl matchup. The Pats are the slight favorites and I must say, it’s a smart pick. 

The Patriots didn’t get off to a great start after their Super Bowl win when it was announced superstar quarterback Tom Brady will be lost for four games this season. Not that it would’ve made a difference in preseason, but now coach Bill Belichick has to push back up Jimmy Garoppolo faster than one  might’ve anticipated. This could be good or bad news.

Bad news in that pushing a youngster along too quickly could ruin a player’s confidence, especially a position as demanding as quarterback. However, this is the Patriots and if there’s one thing they do better than a lot of teams, it’s developing raw talent. Garoppolo is no different than any other project and has a ton of help with OC Josh McDaniels, Brady and Belichick helping him every step of the way. Something tells me he’ll be the most prepared on the field come Thursday.

As for the rest of the offense, there are a few names to key an eye on, not only in this game, but throughout the preseason. If you follow football, then the names Jonas Grey might sound familiar, he started for one game and ran for 210 yards and 4 TDs in a game. The next day he was late for a team meeting and has been in the doghouse ever since. Regardless, he’ll get some carries Thursday and I would imagine should do some damage.

Scott Chandler is the other. I know he’s a veteran that will get minimal snaps, but the reason is depth. Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in football and the Pats staff wants to know who will step up, Chandler is the top candidate. Stuck in Buffalo his entire career, they (NE) signed him as yet another redzone threat to compliment Gronkowski and give Brady another weapon

Defensively, the Patriots have a lot of talent. Chandler Jones, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower the list of veterans goes on. Two names to get a lot of looks in this preseason are Xzavier Dickson out of Alabama and Nate Ebner in his fourth year out of Ohio State.

Dickson can provide explosion off the ball to get around any tackle and has the size (6-3, 265 lbs.) to punish offensive lineman. Ebner is a converted rugby player on the cusp of two different things; making it or breaking it. Look for both to play with a lot of desperation and desire to make the elusive 53-man roster.

If the Packers, like New England, had their way Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t even be at the stadium. Of course I’m kidding, but head coach Mike McCarthy wants to see just how much of a drop-off it is from first string to second. I say that only because Rodgers, arguably, is the best in the business and if something happens, you need to know who can take the reins.

That job is Scott Tolzien’s to lose, but only because of lack of experience from the other completion. Matt Blanchard has yet to throw an NFL pass and Brett Hundley is fresh out of college, however there’s a reason they are on the roster. Both have incredible arm strength and the athleticism to make or extend plays with their feet. Look for both to challenge Tolzein for the no. 2 spot on the roster.

To complement the quarterback spot are a team’s receivers’ and Green Bay certainly has good depth. Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb are the starters and won’t see much, if any action, in this one. The rest of the pack will be, in my opinion, lead by Ty Montgomery, out of Stanford. The third-round pick will make his money in his first year on special teams doing punt returns, but has enough versatility and ball skills to challenge for a backup position as a receiver.

Mark my words right now and this name because it’s only a matter of time before he’s playing a more permanent position on defense; Jack Ryan out of Michigan. Not flashy, but is ALWAYS around the football and has the pedigree to be great. Look for him a lot on Thursday on the field and bothering fellow linebacker Clay Mathews on the sidelines for as much information as he can get.

The matchup: Good teams with great quarterbacks and lofty expectations. However, it will be depth and coaching in this one that will take home the win. Garopollo will have his way with the Green Bay defense and Belichick will simply toy with McCarthy and his staff. I like the Patriots and the spread as my NFL pick.

NFL Pick: New England -3 at GT Bets

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