The New England Patriots will welcome back an old friend in Jimmy Garoppolo when his San Francisco 49ers roll into Gillette Stadium on Sunday for a Week 7 showdown. This will be the first time that the Patriots have faced Garoppolo since trading him to the Bay Area in October of 2017. Since that deal was struck, Garoppolo has played well, as he's tied for third in winning percentage, fourth in yards per attempts, and eighth in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 10 starts. He also was under center as the 49ers won the NFC last year and nearly beat the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
This year, Garoppolo has his 49ers coming into Foxborough with a 3-3 record. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick's Patriots are under .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2002. As this reunion takes place, both clubs will look to stabilize their season by coming out with a win to keep pace in their respective divisions. Before we dive deeper into this matchup, here's how you can watch all the action unfold.
How to watch
New England is coming into this matchup following an upset loss at the hands of the Denver Broncos in Week 6. A pair of first-half turnovers by Cam Newton put the Patriots behind the eight-ball and the Broncos were able to kick their way to victory as Brandon McManus netted all six of his kicks. As the team has battled with COVID issues, the Patriots' offense has struggled mightily over the previous two weeks, averaging just 11 points per game and are scoring a touchdown in just 40% of their red zone trips. One key area of the Patriots sputtering offense is the lack of development from second-year receiver N'Keal Harry. That was evident in Week 6 when he was only targeted twice and came down with zero catches. Not only has New England's offense struggled, but the pass rush has lacked a punch, ranking 30th in the league in pressures. According to Next Gen. Stats, the Patriots only get pressure 21.9% of the time, which ranks 27th in the NFL.
As for the 49ers offense, they continue to be spearheaded by a dominant ground game where it doesn't even matter who is in the backfield. They are a top 10 rushing offense and have had five different backs who have logged at least 10 carries this season. Five different players also have rushing touchdowns this year. While the backfield will certainly be highlighted, Jimmy Garoppolo will get his opportunity to air it out. The 49ers quarterback impressed in Week 6 after an abysmal showing in Week 5. Against the Rams last time out, Garoppolo threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the winning effort. Of course, his main pass-catching weapon will continue to be tight end George Kittle, who Bill Belichick put in the same breath as Rob Gronkowski this week. Kittle is fresh off a dominant Week 6 performance where he hauled in seven of his 10 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Tight ends have found success against New England's defense this year so Kittle could once again have a strong showing. Defensively, San Francisco has been decimated by injuries, but have seen a solid spark from corner Jason Verrett. The former first-round pick hasn't allowed a TD all season, and hasn't allowed more than 10 yards receiving as the primary coverage player in a game this year.
William Hill Sportsbook currently has the Patriots laying two points against the Niners and I'll gladly take them. That said, I don't think San Francisco will need them as I expect a straight-up win by Jimmy Garoppolo against his former team. Newton and the Patriots offense continues to look disjointed, while New England's defense can be had against teams with the right weapons. The likes of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and others should be able to have strong days on the stat sheet. As for what our CBS Sports experts think of this matchup, click here.
Score: San Francisco 24, New England 17