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Gametime: Patriots vs. Giants

The Teams: New England Patriots (0-3) vs. New York Giants (1-2)
The Terms: Fourth and final preseason game
The Place: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The Time: 7pm
The Channel: Channel 5 Boston, Channel 8 Portland
3 Burning Questions:

  1. Will Brady Play? Of course when it comes to injuries and the Patriots you really have no idea until the team hits the field, but I would be shocked to see Brady tonight. All signs point to him skipping the entire preseason and focusing on getting healthy for week 1. Randy Moss didn’t play a down in the 2007 preseason and still went on to set multiple NFL records. While it’s a little alarming not to see Brady on the field, he should have plenty of chances to get the rust off against the woeful Kansas City Chiefs in week 1.
  2. How Much Will the Starters Play? If history is any indication, not a whole lot, if at all. Belichick usually sits his starters for the fourth preseason game, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few offensive lineman and maybe someone like John Lynch get a series or two to continue development. Tonight is a chance for rookies and bottom of the roster guys to sew up their spot on this years Pats.
  3. Who Will Shine and Who Needs To? The Patriots have already cut their roster to 75, releasing the likes of FB Kyle Eckel and DB Jason Webster and placing OT Ryan O’Callaghan on injured reserve. It seems the three players who have it all to gain or lose tonight are QB Matt Cassell, WR Chad Jackson and FB Heath Evans. All are backups but could potential be impact players on the team because of injury or other circumstances. We all know how terrible Cassell has been in the preseason and tonight might (ahem, SHOULD) be his last chance to prove he belongs on the team. Matt Gutierrez may be succeeding against 3rd and 4th stringers, but he at least seems a little comfortable in the pocket and brings some excitement to the field. The Pats have struggled with backup QBs in the last few years as Cassell is looking more and more like a certain Rohan Davey.
    Jackson had a scintillating TD catch against the Eagles but is still on the chopping block I think. He needs another good, consistent performance tonight to warrant his place on the roster. While it’s true the Patriots are thin at WR – they see Kelley Washington as more of a special teams guy – and may keep him around anyways. For the sake of the team, Jackson needs to buckle down and play well. Evans isn’t a crucial part of the team but rather it will be interesting to see if the Patriots hold on to all the running backs and fullbacks they have.

Prediction

Another meaningless game even though it is a Super Bowl rematch. Without Strahan and Umenyiora on the line, the Patriots O-line should dominate. I don’t see Cassell pulling a great performance out of his hat and even if he does, it’ll be against bums. Another ho-hum preseason sleeper for the Patriots.

Giants 27, Patriots 17

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