New England Patriots defense brace for Marshawn Lynch

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 05: Marshawn Lynch /

The New England Patriots defensive front will have their hands full against the powerful running style of Marshawn Lynch. 

While the New England Patriots defense is playing a lot better overall, the team will face its toughest challenge on Sunday when they take on the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City.

Not only will the Raiders challenge the secondary with their explosive passing game, they will try to expose the Patriots thin defensive line with a power running game led by old friend Marshawn Lynch.

While the once retired running back isn’t putting up the type of numbers he did while in his prime, he is still a bigtime weapon. Rushing for just 323 total yards this season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is concerned about the yards Lynch generates after contact.

"“He’s as good as any back in the league in terms of yards after contact,” Belichick said, via ESPN.  “He’s got great balance, great lower-body leg strength.  He looks good on every run: inside, outside, cutback, downhill.  It doesn’t matter.  He can run everything.”"

The Patriots’ defense has struggled a bit against the run and are really at a disadvantage without the services of Dont’a Hightower.   As is always the case when players are missing and the team is facing a challenge, other players need to step up.  It will be a tall task against a running back like Lynch, but if any coaching staff can figure it out, it’s the Patriots.

Still running angry

With Marshawn Lynch coming off two rushing touchdowns last week against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots front seven will have to do its best to slow his power running game.

In fact, it will take a total defensive effort that may very well include the safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty playing up in the box on obvious running downs.  If and when he does break tackles, the second line of defense will have to prevent him from turning short yardage runs into big gains.

"“He’s still running angry,” McCourty said in an interview with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria this week.  “He runs like he doesn’t think he’s supposed to go down.  Whether it’s throwing guys off of him or running guys over, he still runs with that same edge and that same passion.”"

Lynch is like a piece of steak?

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Leave it to New England Patriots defensive lineman Alan Branch to use a food analogy when describing the tall task of stopping Marshawn Lynch.

Speaking to the media about going up against a power back like Lynch, Branch said he will certainly raise his game.  In describing how motivated he will be, he likened the Raiders running back to a big piece of steak.

"“A lot of people like to say that they bring the same energy to every game, but when you know you got a 36-ounce steak on your plate, you just want to see if you can eat it all in one go,” Branch said, via NESN.  “He’s definitely a load.  Their offensive line has been the best in the league, for sure.  I’m excited about playing them.  It’s a great team.  If you want to be a great player, then you’ve got to play against the best.”"

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Whatever it takes for Alan Branch to get motivated for this game, Patriots fans will definitely take it.  The 350-pound defensive lineman has not been at his best all season long.  Hopefully facing a back like Lynch is the wake-up call he needs.