New England Patriots

Jarrett Stidham of the New England Patriots drops back to pass during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions during the preseason game at Ford Field on August 8, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth,

The Patriots were supposed to play their preseason opener Thursday night, hosting the Detroit Lions. Obviously, because of COVID-19, that didn’t happen. But what if it did?

What would we be talking about post game? Cam Newton for sure. Which running back stepped up in Sony Michel’s absence? How did the defensive front look after losing so many pieces in the offseason?

The day just couldn’t pass with no football. So I did what everybody has done when they’re sports-starved during quarantine. I turned on my Xbox.

MORE: How the Patriots QB competition is shaping up in real life

The result was a seven-minute quarter live simulation of what would have been the Patriots first preseason game (and a huge thank you to everybody who joined me and Evan Lazar of CLNS Media on the call).

Does anything that happened during that game give us a sliver of insight into what the 2020 Patriots will look like? No. Absolutely not. But let’s pretend for a second it does.

We learned that Cam Newton is miles ahead of Jarrett Stidham, and should have the starting job pretty locked up. We learned that Damien Harris looks poised for a breakout year two. And we learned than the Patriots two best draft picks may end up being sixth-round linebacker Cassh Maluia and fifth-round kicker Justin Rohrwasser. At least, those would have been my three biggest takeaways.

Upset you missed the closest thing we’ve had to Patriots game action in eight months? Then make sure to catch next week’s game on my Twitch channel (I can’t believe I’m a Twitch streamer now). The Patriots were scheduled to, and will virtually host Cam Newton’s former team, the Carolina Panthers, next Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

A huge thank you again to everybody who joined, and I hope you all enjoyed this little experiment. I’ll leave you with the Patriots half of the box score of Thursday night’s game.

FINAL (7 minute quarters)

Patriots 27

Lions 17


Cam Newton: 11/16, 173 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Jarrett Stidham: 5/8, 35 yards, TD


Damien Harris: 9 carries, 63 yards

Rex Burkhead: 6 carries, 28 yards, TD

J.J. Taylor: 2 carries, 3 yards

James White: 1 carry, 2 yards

Jarrett Stidham: 2 carries, -2 yards


Devin Asiasi: 4 catches, 49 yards

James White: 3 catches, 26 yards

Dalton Keene: 2 catches, 16 yards

N’Keal Harry: 1 catch, 79 yards, TD

Jeff Thomas: 1 catch, 16 yards

Gunner Olszewski: 1 catch, 9 yards

Mohamed Sanu: 1 catch, 8 yards

Jakobi Meyers: 1 catch, 4 yards, TD

J.J. Taylor: 1 catch, 2 yards

Julian Edelman: 1 catch, -1 yard


Sacks allowed: 0

Pancakes: 0

Tackle Leaders:

Cassh Maluia: 6

Ja’Whaun Bentley: 5

Lawrence Guy: 4

Adrian Phillips: 3

Myles Bryant: 3

Kyle Dugger: 3

Beau Allen: 3

Jason McCourty: 3


Brandon Copeland: 2

Josh Uche 1

Beau Allen: 1

Lawrence Guy: 1


Cassh Maluia: 1

Beau Allen: 1

John Simon: 1


Jonathan Jones: 1

Jason McCourty: 1


Justin Rohrwasser 2/2 (51, 46 yards), 3/3 PAT


Jake Bailey: 3 punts, 112 yards, 0 I20, 1 touchback

Team Offense:

Total yards: 298

Passing yards: 204

Rushing yards: 94

3rd downs: 5/9

TOP: 14:58

Team Defense:

Total yards: 293

Passing yards: 172

Rushing yards: 121

3rd downs: 2/8

TOP: 13:02


Q1: Burkhead 2 yard run

Q1: Swift 58 yard run

Q2: Harry 79 yards from Newton

Q2: Prater, 22 yard FG

Q2: Rohrwasser, 46 yard FG

Q3: Rohrwasser, 51 yard FG

Q4: Meyers 4 yards from Stidham

Q4: Scarborough 2 yards from Chase Daniel

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at