The NFL season is just around the corner. That means that training camp is in full swing and joint practices are starting up. The New England Patriots open up their 2018 title defense with a preseason game this week against the Detroit Lions. With the Patriots and Lions getting their join practices underway, let’s take a look at a few story lines to look at this week.

Bill Belichick vs. Matt Patricia

This is a classic case of the teacher versus the student in a head to head matchup. We all know that Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator for the Patriots for two of their Super Bowl runs. Then in the 2018 off-season when the Lions came calling, Patricia took the head coaching job. Keep in mind, the Lions finished 6-10 in Patricia’s first season at the helm. Oh and by the way, his first win was against the Patriots. It’s going to be interesting to see how the dynamic pans out for these two former colleagues. Will Matt Patricia be smart and not tell Bill Belichick any secrets? Will Belichick see something in Patricia’s system that he could use for his own benefit? We’ll see once the week unfolds.

Jarrett Stidham

This is more of a headline that I’m interested in seeing unfold. Jarrett Stidham is the Patriots 4th round selection out of Auburn University. People aren’t paying too much attention to him. Tom Brady obviously signed his extension through 2021 yesterday, and Brian Hoyer is the backup. But, nobody is giving Stidham much of a chance. Think about this for a second. He was a First Team All-SEC quarterback in 2017, and played in arguably the best conference in College Football. Stidham also threw for 36 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Tigers. Could Belichick be getting Stidham ready for the future? Maybe. It will be interesting to see how Belichick utilizes Stidham throughout the preseason.

The Wide Receiving Core’s Health

One of the big questions of the entire off-season has been the Patriots wide receivers. Will they be healthy enough to be ready for the season as perform? Well right now, Julian Edelman is out with a hand injury. Demariyus Thomas has the questions of coming back from an Achilles injury. A guy like Braxton Berrios is on the fence for just making the Patriots roster. This team needs some healthy bodies at wide receiver, and they need them quickly. With a retired Gronk, the wide receivers will be depended upon more than ever for Tom Brady.

In Conclusion

There is a lot to look at between these two teams. The Patriots always win the AFC East with relative ease. The Lions are competing in a tough NFC North division with Green Bay, Chicago, and Minnesota battling it out every season. The Patriots do not play the Lions this upcoming season. Plus, there was a time last season where the Patriots lost in Detroit and people thought the Patriots were done. Maybe Belichick and company want a little payback for last season. Well…maybe not because it’s preseason. But football is back and it’s time to get technical once again. Cue up NFL RedZone!