New England Patriots: 5 Players To Watch In Week 9
5 New England Patriots Players To Watch Sunday
Now that Week 9 up next for the New England Patriots, the team has now completed half of their regular season schedule so far. With a 6-2 record for the team up to this point, they have more than exceeded expectations given how the offense has played through the first eight games. With all of that said, they are nowhere near finished with accomplishing their goals this season. Naturally, the team wants to win as many games as they can, securing a no. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is more than possible given the weakness of the AFC this year.
The next obstacle they will have to overcome on the road to that goal is the Pittsburgh Steelers. While they are no longer the team they once were, they still possess a very good defense with players like Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons among others. Additionally, they have offensive weapons that could give the Patriots problems. These weapons include the likes of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Le’veon Bell, Heath Miller and of course Ben Roethlisberger, who is among the best quarterbacks in the NFL at extending plays.
With all of this said, I have chosen to break down five Patriots players to watch in this matchup. If you disagree with any of the players that I am about to highlight in this slideshow, I would strongly recommend that you comment regarding that particular player in the “comments” section down below. I will start with QB Tom Brady and why he may be able to snap out of his recent struggles against the Steelers this week.
5. Tom Brady
After subpar play so far this season, Brady has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent weeks. Whether it be due to an increase in age, a mediocre receiving core or an injury, he has not looked like the Brady we all are accustomed to seeing. However, this could finally be the week that he turns all of that around with a big week through the air. He has had great success against the Steelers in his career, and they are not even close to the team they used to be. For that reason, Brady will and should be on top of every Patriots fan s watch list in Week 9.
4. Rob Gronkowski
For Rob Gronkowski, this could be a big week for him on offense as well. After being limited his first week back and Brady struggling through the air in Week 8, Gronkowski should be poised for a big game in Week 9. Despite a hamstring injury popping up this week in practice, Gronk is said to be looking good and ready to go in full form this week. Like Brady, Gronk has had great success against the Steelers in his career. He has caught 14 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns in two career games against them.
3. Danny Amendola
For Danny Amendola, things have not quite gone according to plan. Since his Patriots debut where he went over 100 yards on 10 catches, he has played poorly when he has suited up. Additionally, he has missed four games this year with groin and head injuries. With that said, a matchup where his quarterback is historically known for torching the opponent may be all Amendola needs to return to relevancy. With multiple weeks now since his groin injury, Amendola could finally be ready to play the Wes Welker role this week. He is another player to watch in the game, especially if Gronk draws excessive defensive coverage.
2. Logan Ryan
Logan Ryan has really stepped up his game in the secondary for the Patriots. Last week alone, he had two pivotal sacks against Ryan Tannehill that changed the dynamic of the game for them. He has been an especially huge presence in the absence of Aqib Talib. If Talib sits out or is limited at all on Sunday, Ryan will be counted on to, at least in part, fill that void. Even if Talib plays fully on Sunday, Ryan will still be a player to watch on defense this week. He has shown to be a more-than-capable defensive playmaker and should still see plenty of snaps going forward.
1. Isaac Sopoaga
Isaac Sopoaga is a player to watch for obvious reasons. He is new, having been acquired prior to the trade deadline for a fifth-round draft pick. He is going to have to fill a big role on the team from the get-go with Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly being placed on the season-ending IR. Sopoaga will have to solidify a run defense that has struggled in recent weeks. He will be counted on right away to contribute this week against the Steelers and RB Bell. Sopoaga will be extremely important for the Patriots both this week and moving forward.