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Thursday Night Preview: Will New England Roll to Another Lopsided Win?

We've been lucky to be treated to a lot of good Thursday Night Football games so far this season.

Tonight is likely not going to be one of those games.

Peeking at our power rankings, the New England Patriots top the charts while the New York Giants sit 26th. The Pats, as you'd expect, are massive 16.5-point favorites today.

Missing Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, do the Giants have a chance to hang with the Patriots?

Quarterback Breakdown

Tom Brady has been outstanding this season. Among the 28 quarterbacks with 100 or more drop backs, Brady ranks sixth in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.24). On the other hand, the Giants have turned things over to rookie Daniel Jones, who has been far less efficient than Brady with a Passing NEP per drop back mark of 0.04 (23rd).

In terms of Passing Success Rate -- the percentage of drop backs which result in a positive NEP -- the gap closes down a bit. Brady has still been strong (46.39%), but Jones barely trails the veteran with a mark of 44.92%.

Both passers have done well in attacking defenses vertically. In looking at average intended air yards (the average air yards a passer throws on all attempts), Jones clocks in with a strong mark of 8.5, while Brady steps back a bit with a rate of 8.1.

Does either offense separate themselves at the running back position?

Running Back Play

If only tonight was going to feature Saquon Barkley, we could be in for a real treat.

Unfortunately, we aren't, and the Giants' running back situation is a massive mess. Prior to his injury, Barkey was doing Saquon Barkley-things. He led the league in Rushing NEP per carry (0.21) while still maintaining his heavy involvement in the passing game. His injury initially turned things over to Wayne Gallman, who subsequently got hurt last week.

Now, it looks like it's Jon Hilliman's turn, and the rookie runner has 19 carries for 53 rushing yards.

That gives a major edge to the Patriots here, and Sony Michel has been the primary rusher for the team. Michel leads the team with 78 rushes, but he's been pretty inefficient. Among the 36 ball carriers with 30 or more carries in 2019, Michel has logged a rate of -0.14 Rushing NEP per carry (29th).

Going by Rushing Success Rate, Michel has posted a lowly mark of 32.05%, and he didn't catch a single pass until last week.

James White is still doing his thing in the passing game, and Rex Burkhead -- who is questionable -- does a little bit of everything.

Defensive Matchup

The New England defense has been one of the best in the league, ranking second, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, while the Giants' D checks in 25th.

Based on numberFire's opponent-adjusted metrics, the Pats rank first against the pass and 16th against the run. The Giants have been torched against the pass (27th), but they have been far better against the run (9th).

The Pats have beaten up the quarterback this season. They lead the league in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate (11.0%) and have a league-best 24 sacks. The Giants have been strong here, as well, ranking 11th (8.2%), and their best shot at keeping it close likely involves getting pressure on Brady.

Game Projection

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