Patriots Have 2 Crucial Defenders Landing On COVID-19 List

Getty Ja'Whaun Bentley

The current spread of COVID-19 is seemingly running ramped through almost every major sports team, and the New England Patriots aren’t exempt.

On Monday, the team’s top pass rusher Matthew Judon and one of its best inside linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley landed on the COVID-19 list, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

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Bentley and Judon join running back Rhamondre Stevenson on the COVID-19 list. The former played in the team’s 33-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but the latter missed the game. It’s unclear if Judon and Bentley will be able to test off the list and play in Sunday’s game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Hopes are high that neither Judon nor Bentley experience any serious complications with infection, and that they can return to practice or the lineup as soon as possible.

From a pure football standpoint, this is perhaps the worst possible time for the Patriots to deal with these losses. They’re behind the Bills in the AFC East divisional race because of tiebreakers, and their spot in the AFC postseason hasn’t been secured.

Quite honestly, the Patriots need to win out against the Jags and the Miami Dolphins to lock up a spot in the playoffs. If they don’t win both games, they will need help from other teams.

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Could Judon and Bentley Return Quickly?

The NFL has new protocols in place that allow for vaccinated players to return sooner. If Judon and Bentley are both vaccinated and can test out of the protocols, there is a chance they could still play on Sunday against the Jaguars.

Stevenson has already missed a game, so he is also another possibility for a return. While the Jaguars have one of the NFL’s worst records at 2-13, they do have a win this season over the Buffalo Bills.

Thus the Patriots cannot afford to take them lightly.


Sunday’s Game vs. the Jaguars is a Must-Win Contest

The Patriots have gone from a team on a 7-game win streak and appearing to be a Super Bowl contender to a team on a 2-game skid. At 9-6, the Patriots are behind the Bills in the AFC East standings thanks to an inferior division record.

That leaves them in a potentially precarious situation. If the Patriots lose to the Jaguars and the red-hot Miami Dolphins in the final week of the season, they would be in serious danger of missing the postseason. The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts and Dolphins are all in the hunt for wild card berths of they cannot win their respective divisions.

If New England ends the season on a four-game losing streak, we might be looking at the most epic slide in Bill Belichick’s storied history as a head coach.

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