By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Thursday Night Football is what it is. Most players don’t particularly like playing just four days following their previous game, though they do enjoy that added time off when the dust settles.

The short week hasn’t seemed to bother the Patriots, either, as they’re 12-4 all time on Thursday Night Football. They’ve won seven straight on a short week.

And now they get to face the 2-3 Giants, a team that will be without their three best players on the offensive side of the football. This one could get silly very quickly, but it’s football, so we’ll be watching. And here is what we’ll be watching for in what should be another easy victory for the Patriots to start the season.

Brady Takes Down A Different Manning

Tom Brady congratulates Peyton Manning after the AFC Championship Game in January 2016. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Yes, Daniel Jones is the quarterback for the Giants and not Eli Manning. And as you can see, Jones’ last name clearly is not Manning.

But Brady is gunning for Peyton on Thursday evening, or at least Peyton’s spot on the all-time passing yard list. Brady moved past Brett Farve to take over third place on the list on Sunday, and with 71,923 yards to his name, he’s just 18 passing yards away from besting Manning’s career number.

The weather isn’t going to be great Thursday night, but it shouldn’t take Brady very long to hit the milestone. It will, however, take him a while to reach Drew Brees, who is the king of passing yards with 74,845.

Rookie QB vs. A Belichick Defense

Bill Belichick, Daniel Jones (Photos by Patrick McDermott/Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Poor Daniel Jones. No rookie quarterback has come into Foxboro and won against the Patriots on Thursday Night Football.

Granted, he’ll become just the second rookie quarterback to come into Foxboro and try to beat the Patriots on Thursday Night Football, joining Geno Smith in that exclusive group. Smith did so in 2013, and finished the Jets 13-10 loss with a 27.6 passer rating, going 15-for-35 for 214 yards. Three of those 35 passes were completed to the Patriots.

But rookie passers in general don’t usually beat the Patriots, who have won eight straight over first-year quarterbacks going back to the 2014 season. Overall, Belichick is 19-7 against rookie QBs with the Patriots. All seven of those wins came on the quarterback’s home field, though.

Jones will have no such luxury on Thursday, and the Giants offense will be wildly understaffed against the NFL’s best defense.

Shutout

The Patriots defense celebrates Devin McCourty’s interception against the New York Jets. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

The Giants are without their three best offensive players in Saquan Barkley, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. It’s almost unfair that they’re about to face a team that has allowed a grand total of two offensive touchdowns through the first five weeks of the season.

Let’s get this out of the way now: New England’s opponents have stunk so far. But the defense has been absolutely ridiculous against those bad opponents. Let us count the ways.

The New England defense leads the NFL in total yards per game (238.4), yards per play (4.1), sacks (24), interceptions (11) and points per game (four measly points!), just to name a few. Overall, the defense has allowed just 20 points this season.

And they’ve been even better should their opponents get inside the red zone, which hasn’t happened too much. The Patriots have allowed just one red zone touchdown and one red zone field goal so far. Opponents have made just 20 plays inside the red area.

This defense is ridiculous. Shutouts are hard, but there’s a good chance the New England defense will log their second of the season on Thursday night.

(Technically, the defense had a shutout of the Jets in Week 3 as well, when New York scored a defensive touchdown and special teams touchdown.)

Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins celebrates after a strip sack on Colt McCoy. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

“Tum Tum Collins” (as Michael Hurley referred to him earlier this week because of that picture) has been feasting on quarterbacks all season. He’s ready to feast on Daniel Jones.

His stat line is absurd through the first five games, logging 4.5 sacks, 27 tackles (including six for a loss) and four turnovers. Just watch him on every play, because it’s more probable than not that he’ll do something either amazing, or something fairly average that he makes look pretty amazing.

If the Giants focus on slowing down Collins (good luck with all of that), then the rest of the Patriots “Boogeymen” will have a field day. The Patriots have sacked the quarterback at least five times in their last four games, and will look to extend that franchise record on Thursday. Good luck, Mr. Jones.

WBZ-TV gets you ready for Thursday Night Football with a special edition of Patriots GameDay at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening. After the Patriots and the Giants are done battling at Gillette Stadium, tune in to Patriots 5th Quarter on TV38!

 

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