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Dallas Cowboys 2023 opponent preview: 2 Patriots to keep an eye on

Today we check out the Cowboys’ week four opponent, the New England Patriots.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots File

2022 Record: 8-9 (3rd in the AFC East)

Last Meeting: 10/27/2021 Dallas Cowboys victory 35-29 (Dallas Cowboys lead series 8-6)

Head Coach: Bill Belichick (299-154 record as a head coach)

Key Additions: TE Mike Gesicki, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, RB Ezekiel Elliott

Key Departures: RB Damien Harris, WR Jakobi Meyers, S Devin McCourty

2022 Overview

2022 was a very frustrating year for the New England Patriots. The franchise that is not used to having losing seasons did exactly that and nothing - especially on the offensive side of the ball - seemed to go right for them. With Matt Patricia and Joe Judge seemingly running the offense, quarterback Mac Jones looked to have regressed from his solid rookie season.

The Post-Tom Brady Era in New England has been a challenge for the team and while they are trying to find a way to get back to their days of old, every team in their division has worked aggressively to get better and seize the moment.

Fast forward to 2023 and the Patriots have old friend Bill O’Brien back to run the offense and with that addition plus some more offensive pieces, the Patriots have somewhat looked better on the offensive side of the ball. Belichick will always have that defense ready to play and they look like one of the more formidable units in the NFL, but ultimately the team's success will come down to whether the Patriots' offense can consistently elevate their game from a year ago.

Player to watch… CB Christian Gonzalez

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The rookie first-round pick looks to be an absolute home run selection just a month into his young career. The Patriots used their first selection in this year's draft to add much-needed youth and talent to their secondary and Gonzalez has answered the bell extremely well since joining the team. Gonzalez has been asked to cover every team's number-one wide receiver so far and could be tasked with doing the same this week.

Fresh off a Rookie of the Month award to start his career, all eyes are on the cornerback out of Oregon to see if he is able to continue his stellar play, possibly against a very tough CeeDee Lamb here in Week 4. This matchup is an intriguing one as the overwhelming majority of Lamb’s work comes from the slot with Gonzalez only having played 17 snaps inside so far this season, meaning if Gonzo is truly going to travel with the Cowboys' star wide receiver, he is going to have to come into Lamb’s world to do so.

Lamb has been highly productive this year, and Gonzo has exceeded every challenge through the first three weeks - setting this matchup to be the one to watch here in Week 4.

Don’t forget about… RB Ezekiel Elliott

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Saying to not forget about Ezekiel Elliott this week is comical this week. No one in Dallas, especially this week, has forgotten about Zeke and what he had done in his time here. This week, especially with added motivation, and the fact the Cowboys did not look good defending the run against the Arizona Cardinals last week, only adds to the fuel that Zeke will have on Sunday.

Belichick only thinks about winning - it’s one of the qualities that puts him in contention to be the greatest coach ever in the NFL. However, with that in mind, the idea of a fresh-legged, chip on his shoulder Zeke going against his old team that let him go may be too good of an opportunity for the Patriots to not try and take advantage of.

Look for a healthy dose of Zeke on Sunday against this Cowboys defense who will once again have to prove that they are capable of stopping the run. If the Cowboys aren’t careful, Zeke may be able to put his new team on his back en route to an upset win over his former team.

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