The Patriots will face their biggest test yet on one of the biggest holidays of the year.
On Thanksgiving, New England will face a Minnesota Vikings team that had a seven-game winning streak snapped against the Cowboys.
Bill Belichick recorded a minute-long video previewing Minnesota receiver Justin Jefferson, which was posted to the Patriots’ Twitter account.
Matthew Slater, who was in the same rookie class as Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell, said that O’Connell is one of his best friends.
Adrian Phillips said it doesn’t get much harder than trying to stop Jefferson and Dalvin Cook on the same offense.
So, what did the Vikings have to say about the Patriots this week? Here are five things that stood out.
Belichick is still one of O’Connell’s coaching influences
Belichick selected O’Connell in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback spent a year with the Patriots before playing with the Lions, Jets, and Chargers.
“I still have old notebooks with team meeting notes and things like that that are always great to go back and look through throughout that season, throughout the offseason, training camp,” O’Connell said. “So as I’ve said many times, it’s been a huge part of my football journey to be able to experience being there for that period of time and helped me grow tremendously.
Kirk Cousins gives Matthew Judon’s alma mater a shoutout
Andre Tippett is the only Patriots player who has posted more sacks in a season than the 13.5 Matthew Judon has so far this year.
Judon is leading the NFL in sacks and has been a huge part of why New England’s defense has been so strong.
“Judon’s having a great year. A big shoutout to Grand Valley State, where he played,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “That’s kind of my home area so I grew up watching Grand Valley. He’s had a great pro career after coming out of Grand Valley and having a great year this year, so we’ll be well aware of where he is. And really, their whole unit has been strong, so it’ll be a challenge all around.”
A lot of teams try to emulate the Patriots defense, Adam Theilen said
Vikings receiver Adam Theilen praised the Patriots for their detailed approach and ability to limit mistakes.
“From an offensive perspective, they take away what you’re really good at,” Thielen said. “And there’s a lot of teams that try to emulate that and just don’t do it the way that they do it week in and week out. They take away what the offense is really good at. They find weaknesses and they expose them.”
Matthew Slater is one of O’Connell’s best friends, and was in O’Connell’s wedding
O’Connell said the way Matthew Slater carries himself is an inspiration to players and coaches alike.
“There’s a reason he’s been a captain on that team for as long as I can possibly remember,” O’Connell said. “He was in my wedding — all those things. He’s going to remain one of my best friends for a long time. An unbelievable family, and like I said, I think he and his family have had a really strong impact on that Boston community and New England community with all the things they do that mean so much off the field.”
A great Thanksgiving test for both sides
The only team with a winning record that the Patriots have beaten is the Jets. The Vikings are coming off a crushing 37-point loss to the Cowboys.
It looks to be a great test on a big stage for both teams.
“Heck of an opportunity to get back to US Bank Stadium on Thanksgiving,” O’Connell said. “It’s a great opportunity for our team, not only coming off of last week, but in general to play a primetime game and get an opportunity to play what I think is one of the better football teams in our league. ‘ It’s a great opportunity for our team, not only coming off of last week, but in general to play a primetime game and get an opportunity to play what I think is one of the better football teams in our league.
Sign up for Patriots updates🏈
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during football season.