When the Denver Broncos won the AFC Title yesterday it was a big triumph for Peyton Manning. He proved that he can defeat the New England Patriots and win a big game with an outstanding performance. His stats were 32-43 for 400 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did not get sacked or thrown an interception, and outwitted a Bill Belichick defense. In Super Bowl 48, he has to outsmart the best defense in the NFL the Seattle Seahawks on February 2nd. Not bad for a guy who had 4 major surgeries on his neck, and there was a chance he would never play in the NFL again. In the past he lost playoff games in the with the Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts. Until yesterday if never won another Super Bowl his legacy would be a great quarterback who never won the big one.
Manning can rewrite his legacy by winning Super Bowl 48, and if he does accomplish this feat history will be made. He can become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. However, the Seattle defense will not make this task any easier.
Bill Belichick is calling this “one of the worst plays I have ever seen” and a “deliberate hit on Aqib to take him out of the game”.
I want to start this off by asking this. How was that play not flagged? Deliberate hit to hurt Talib or not he clearly picked Talib and took him out of the play. The Patriots got called for that yesterday, why didn’t Welker and the Broncos?
Now onto Belichicks statement. Look, I love Belichick and I believe he is the best coach in NFL history. But he is wrong here. This was not a deliberate hit to take out Talib. If it was why would you send your 5’8 receiver who is concussion prone? If they wanted to hurt Talib they would of send a big guy like Julius Thomas to do their dirty work, not Wes Welker. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Talib was the one injury they could not overcome on defense and this injury may of cost them the game.
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The AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos could be the last matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Both quarterbacks are future Hall of Famers and this game could decide the legacy of either quarterback. Brady has 3 Super Bowl Rings, 2 Super Bowl MVPs, and 2 Regular Season MVP. Manning has 1 Super Bowl Ring, 1 Super Bowl MVP, and 4 Regular Season MVPs. However, Manning is having an MVP season, but his career playoff record is 10 and 11. Tom Brady has done more with less this season losing members of his offense either due to injuries or off the field issues. The pressure is on Manning to win this game because he is two years removed from having 4 neck surgeries and this could be his last chance at winning the Super Bowl.
Brady has something to prove because it has been nine years since the Patriots won a Super Bowl, and losing two of them to the New York Giants. Brady is 36 and Manning is 37 so both of them are looking at the last best chance to win a ring. I am looking forward to this matchup and this game will go down to the wire.
Peyton Manning says Bill Belichick will go down as the “Greatest NFL Coach of All-Time” before his
Colts Broncos go up against Bill’s Patriots in the Conference Finals. You can just really feel the love oozing from Peyton with these comments, but then again, they are dead on accurate.
LeGarrete Blount stole the show on Saturday and ran all over the Colts. He racked up 166 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns. Yes you read that right, 4 touchdowns. Shades of Al Bundy right?
The Patriots absolutely dominated the Colts on the ground. To go along with Blounts 166 yards, Ridley added 52 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Vereen also ran for 17 yards giving the Patriots a total of 235 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground.
Tom Brady had the highest passer rating in NFL playoff history for quarterbacks who did not throw a touchdown in the game. He completed 6 third down conversions throwing the ball. Whenever they needed him, he was there. He made big play after big play to keep the drives alive and give Blount and Ridley a chance to keep pounding the ball up the middle. If don’t consider Brady’s performance Saturday clutch then you do not know what clutch is.
The Patriots Defense had a day as well. Alfonso Dennard had two picks, including one on the Colts opening drive that he returned to the one yard line leading to a Blount touchdown. But the biggest story coming out of this game for the Patriots defense was the emergence of Line Backer Jamie Collins. Collins sacked Luck once him off once. He was all over the field and really stepped up when the D needed him most. Hightower added a pick as well giving the Patriots 4 total interceptions on the day.
Overall it was a dominate performance by the Patriots and a abysmal performance by the Colts. The Patriots never trailed throughout the game and the Colts could not stop them on defense, and Luck could not avoid making the big mistake of offense. The Patriots will face the Denver Broncos in Denver on Sunday at 3 pm for the AFC Championship and for a Super Bowl birth. Brady vs. Manning, does it really get any better? Full preview of this historic AFC Championship Matchup coming Thursday.
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After watching four outstanding Divisional playoff games the teams are set for Conference Championship games next Sunday.
AFC: New England VS Denver The Patriots ran for over 200 yards and six touchdowns versus the Indianapolis Colts. Tom Brady didn’t have his usual brilliant game but they won over the Colts 43 to 22. Denver struggled over the San Diego Chargers but won 24 to 17. Peyton Manning got over the hurdle of losing last year’s Divisional game to the Baltimore Ravens. This will be the fifteen time that Tom Brady will take on Peyton Manning, and it will be the four time they will face off in the playoffs. Also, it will be the third time they competed for the AFC Championship and a Super Bowl berth on the line. The Patriots have the running game and the Broncos defense is suspect against the run. Bill Belichick’s defense has stop Peyton Manning in the past and this one will be no different. Patriots
NFC: San Francisco VS Seattle The 49ers won over the Carolina Panthers 23 to 10. Their passing game came to life against the Panthers defense today, and that has to continue against the Seahawks defense. Anquan Boldin had a big game and Frank Gore had a great game running the ball. The 49ers have to have a balance offense to keep the Seahawks off balance. The Seahawks have to continue to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch who had 140 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 23 to 15 win over the New Orleans Saints. Russell Wilson has to get the passing game going with or without Percy Harvin. Both defenses are going to ready for this game and points will come at premium. Seahawks
Every Patriots fan knows that of late the regular season is almost like a preseason to us. We know we are going to win the AFC East, the Patriots have dominated since the Brady and Bellichick era began in New England. So now that the “preseason” is over, it’s time to start the real season and bring home the fourth Super Bowl in 13 years.
The Indianapolis Colts will be rolling in to Foxboro this week, and when I say rolling I mean it. The Colts pulled off a 28 point comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend, the second largest in NFL playoff history. But was the Colts comeback really all that impressive?
Now I’m not down selling the Colts here, they are an extremely good team who has beaten a bunch of good teams this year (DEN, SF, SEA). But Kansas City was banged up last week and if were not for that, the Chiefs would of beaten the Colts. Kansas City lost RB Jamal Charles, back up RB Knile Davis, LB Justin Houston, WR Donnie Avery, and starting CB Brandon Flowers. Losing both running backs made it impossible to run out the clock at the end of the game for the Chiefs, and losing key defensive players made it that much harder to stop the Colts. So as impressive as the comeback looked on paper, you should not automatically assume the Colts are the “team of destiny” and no one can stop them now after that comeback win.
Andrew Luck made a lot of good plays last week, but he also made a lot of bad ones. Luck threw 3 picks against the Chiefs last week, and some of them were just flat out terrible. The Patriots defense has a bend don’t break mentality. They give up a lot of yards, but they also force a lot of turnovers. The Patriots have picked off 17 passes this year, and recovered 16 fumbles, leading to a +9 turnover differential. The Patriots have skilled defensive backs, led by veteran corner back Aqib Talib. They also have ball hawking safety Devin McCourty and the rising star of this defense cornerback Logan Ryan. Andrew Luck will rack up some yards this game, but I can guarantee he will throw at least 2 INT. And if you give Tom Brady a short field, he will make you pay for it.
(Logan Ryan returns a interception against the Jets for a touchdown)
The place where the Colts will really hurt the Patriots is on the ground. The Patriots lost MLB Brandon Spikes earlier in the week, who has been the anchor and the leader of this defense all year. Dane Fletcher will now get the start on the inside. Is he a good player? Yes? Is he Brandon Spikes? Absolutely not.
The Colts will take advantage of this desecrated front 7 with running back Donald Brown. Donald Brown is the running back who was overlooked when the Colts traded for running back Trent Richardson. Well Trent has been horrific since joining the Colts, including a fumble on his first career playoff touch against the Chiefs. Donald Brown on the other hand has been a solid running back this season. Brown had some key touches in last week’s win for the Colts, including a touchdown. Brown ran for 537 yards this season on only 102 attempts, a 5.2 yard average. He is an explosive runner who can also but his head down and run over opposing players. Keep an eye out for Donald Brown this week, as he should have a big game.
But the Patriots can also hurt the Colts on the ground. The Colts rush defense ranks 26th in the league. The Patriots rushing attack has been eye opening to say the least this season. For an offense that has been pass first, pass second, rush third for god knows how many years, they have really started to run the ball well this season. And they do this with more than one player. LeGarrette Blount is having his best year since his second season with the Bucs. He has rushed for over 700 yards and 7 touchdowns. He picks up at least 5 yards a carry. And everyone who watches the Patriots knows this guy is a grinder. He does not go down easily, and when he goes down he always falls forward. In my opinion, which is right, besides losing Tom Brady, losing Blount on offense would be the biggest blow to this Patriots offense. Shane Vereen is another versatile weapon in the Patriots back field. He can rush the ball with moderate success, but his pass catching ability is what makes him so dangerous. Look for Blount to pick up at least 100 yards on the ground this week and for Vereen to catch the ball for at least 75 yards.
(LeGarrete Blount celebrates with the Patriots faithful)
The most important person I have not talked about in this preview is Tom Brady. Tom Brady post season record is and impressive 17-7.He has a 42 touchdowns in the postseason, and only 22 picks. But here is the most amazing stat of all, Brady has led 7 game winning drives in the playoffs. The best part about being a Patriots fan is knowing no matter what the other team does throughout the game, if Tom Brady has his hands on the ball with under 2 minutes , whether we are down 3 or all tied up, you expect to win that game. Because we are Patriots fans, we expect greatness, and we expect that because of what Tom Brady has done. Tom Brady delivers greatness night in and night out come playoff time, and I expect this trend to continue against the Colts.
The Patriots will win this game. Will it be hard? Yes. The Colts are a good team and Andrew Luck is a great quarterback, but he will make mistakes. These mistakes will be enough for Tom Brady and company to capitalize on. The Patriots will also have their way with the Colts rush defense, which will keep Luck off the field. Patriots win a close one, 27-21.
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What is going to happen in the NFL Divisional Playoffs starting this Saturday afternoon?
Seattle VS New Orleans: The Saints proved they can run the ball and play well on the road last Saturday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. They were blown out they last time they were at CenturyLink Field. Seattle has a better defense and the Saints can’t stop Marshawn Lynch. Seattle
New England VS Indianapolis: The Colts had an amazing comeback versus the Kansas City Chiefs, and Andrew Luck proved that he can win in the playoffs. However, the Colts don’t have a running game to take the pressure of Luck. Tom Brady can take advantage of the Colts secondary. LeGarrette Blount gives the Pats a running game they didn’t have for most of the season, but unlike Stevan Ridley there are no fumbling problem with Blount. Patriots defense have held it together despite numerous injuries. Solid Special Teams, and give credit to Bill Belichick for keep the team together despite injuries and other controversies. Patriots
Carolina VS San Francisco: The Panthers defeated the 49ers earlier in the season at Candlestick. Cam Newton is coming into his own as quarterback and a leader. Wide receiver Steve Smith is supposed to be healthy and needs to make big plays in the passing game. The Panthers defense has been outstanding all season. Colin Kaepernick had a big game running and throwing the ball. He gave the Packers defense fits last week. Frank Gore needs to have 100 yards or more rushing, and Michael Crabtree needs another big game, but it will be tough against Panthers defense. 49ers
Denver VS San Diego: The Chargers went up to Invesco Field and defeated the Broncos late in the season Philip Rivers played a solid game versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown give the Chargers a 1-2 punch in the running game. Their defense shut down the Bengals running game and sacked Andy Dalton twice and forced 4 turnovers. Peyton Manning had an MVP season, but has been haunted by past playoff failures including losing last year’s Divisional Playoff game vs. the Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos have a good running game lead by Knowshon Moreno and that takes the pressure off of Manning. Broncos defense has been weaken by the season ending of linebacker Von Miller. Broncos
The New England Patriots took down the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday 34-20 in a game that never seemed very close.
There is not much to say about this game. LeGarrette Blount trudged through sloppy condishions and a sloppy Bills front 7 on his way to racking up 189 yards on the ground, a career high. But Blount did not stop there, he also tacked on 145 yards returning the ball for the Patriots. Have you ever seen a 250 pounder returning kicks? No, but it’s just another idea from Bellichick’s brilliant mind. Do I believe in two weeks Blount will have the same type of game? No, of course not. The Patriots mix up their offensive ideas week by week. When you expect the fastball, you get the curveball. When you expect the curveball, you get the slider. It is what makes the Patriots offense so successful, they are unpredictable.
The Patriots could not stop the Bills rushing attack, which was expected. C.J Spiller rushed for 105 yards on 19 carries, a 7 yard per carry average. Fred Jackson added 60 yards on 14 carries. This was expected, it was a sloppy game due to the weather conditions, and of course each team’s offense is going to be rush heavy. But here is a scary stat for you: Thad Lewis threw for 247 yards on 16 completions. During weather conditions that were favorable for the Patriots pass defense, they got torched by the
Bills backup quarterback. This Patriots defense is a major Achilles Heel for the Patriots and could lead to their ultimate demise in the playoffs, which pains me to say. Can this offense keep up with the high powered Broncos offense? Can they stop a Marshawn Lynch or LeSean McCoy if they make it to the Super Bowl? All that remains to be seen.
But we are in the playoffs, and we have a first round bye, so that is a positive. Brady and Bellichick have two weeks to learn some new pitches and see if they can get them by powerhouse hitters like Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Do I believe they can do that? Of course I do, the Patriots have a “just win” type mentality that we have all grown accustom to. The Patriots have 13 consecutive winning seasons. All this team does is win. It’s not always pretty, especially this year, but they get the job done. Brady is having one of his worst statistical years in his career, while Peyton Manning is having the best statistical year ever by a Quarterback. But you put a gun to my head and you ask me who is going to win an AFC Championship matchup between the two, and I will say Tom Brady and the New England Patriots every single time.
The Patriots will face the highest seed remaining in the AFC after the Wild Card round, not this weekend, but the following weekend at Gillette Stadium. I will post be posting predictions for the Wild Card round for the AFC and NFC later this week, so keep an eye out for that.
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It’s that time of year again; the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that my sports wishes, soon will be here.
This year I’ve had to think long and hard about what I want, because last year my wish came true. As 2012 came to a close, my wish was that the Red Sox would climb out of the AL East cellar. At the time, I just hoped for them to battle for playoff contention. My wish came true times 1,000, with Boston taking the 2013 World Series title. From worst to first, it was a season of the ages.
This year, my wishes are of the football variety. My Patriots are playing pretty well, and despite some major season-ending injuries, they are winning. But despite the record, something is missing. Primarily, there’s the absence of two 250-lb+ game-changing tight ends. One of them I can hope to see back next season. The other? Well I think right now he’s just hoping he’ll see the outside world sometime before he dies.
For my 265-lb freak, I wish a healthy 2014; one free of surgeries and full of catches, touchdowns and fiestas. Because we all know Rob Gronkowski es un fiesta. I hope his back, knee, forearm and whatever else ails him are good to go next year, and we are graced with a season full of Gronk.
My second request is for tall guys who catch good, and Gronk would say. For Tom Brady’s sake, I wish for a decent received corps. I don’t mean a mish-mash of average talent who are elevated by the play of a great play-calling qb; I mean 2007-esque talent, when The Freak was out there breaking all-time records with Tom Terrific. He deserves to end his career with some great receivers, instead of the mish-mash of talent he’s dealt with since Moss left. I mean a true receiver, not some little slot guy like Welker. Though great at what he did, I want to see someone who can make spectacular grabs like Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall.
Speaking of ending his career, I wish for a Fountain of Youth. At 36, I know that the end is drawing near for the Patriots with Tom Brady at the helm. I can’t imagine he has more than a couple seasons left in his arm, and I’m already freaking out. But my biggest fear? That Bill Belichick will decide to leave at the same time as his muse. Then I really don’t know what I’ll do. If Tom leaves but New England still has Bill, I feel like we can make it; without him, the dreaded “rebuilding” will begin. We’ve been a bit spoiled in the last 12 years, and I don’t think I can take a season of renovation. Every year since 2001, my football team has been a playoff and Super Bowl contender. I can’t remember a time when I “couldn’t watch” the Patriots, or that each game didn’t mean something. So I need Tom to drink some H2O from Ponce de Leon’s legendary spring and continue to be an active Patriot for life. Since I know this isn’t logical, I hope that Belichick doesn’t retire at the same time as the best quarterback ever (I’m not biased at all).
A guy who can run 100 yards a game… without dropping the ball. I am so tired of the Patriots’ non-existent running game. They have spurts here and there over the years, but they haven’t had a consistent runner since Corey Dillon. I trust Belichick, but his incapability to draft a decent running back is killing me. I know he thinks other positions are more important, which is obvious since the Pats never draft a game-changing WR or RB, but for once I’d love to have a guy on the field who I knew could just run up the gut and score some TDs. As Tom gets up there in years, having a reliable runner to take some of the pressure off would be a God send.
A new hip for Aqib Talib. One of my favorite Patriots, I fear Talib is going to play the rest of his career on one leg. A legitimate option for Defensive Player of the Year before he got hurt Oct. 13, Talib was completely shutting it down in the backfield – in consecutive weeks, he held Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham to a COMBINED six catches and 62 yards. Through the first six games of the season, with a healthy Talib, the Patriots defense allowed just 16 points per game. Having a guy who can shut down the opposing team’s best player can’t be understated. Then Talib hurt his hip flexor, missed three games, and hasn’t been the same since he returned. That said, Talib on one leg is still better than ¾ of the other corners in the league. But imagine if he was 100%? That is my wish.
So, Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers, with your curled-up, fat, balled-up little fists pawing at the air … don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent… please hear my prayers for Tom, Bill, Gronk, Aqib and the rest.
And finally, my wish for all of you is that you have a very Merry Christmas, a belated Happy Chanukah, and a very happy and healthy new year. Here’s hoping for some great Bowl games, some kick-ass NFL playoff matchups, and, hopefully, Tom hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end. Amen.
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Anyone who doesn’t understand this is a joke at this point has 0 brain
If someone asked me if Tom Brady only threw for 172 yards and 1 touchdown against the surging Baltimore Ravens would the Patriots win the game? I would tell them there is no chance in France the Patriots win that game. Well butter my biscuit and call me Sally because the Patriots did just that.
Legarrette Blount rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Blount also spit in Baltimore’s eye with mocking Ray Lewis’s dance.
Steven Ridley tacked 54 yards on 15 carries.
Edelman had 7 receptions for 77 yards and is starting to look more and more like Wes Welker as the weeks go on. Danny Amendola added 2 receptions for 45 yards. Aaron Dobson had 1 reception for 21 yards. Although that may not look good on paper, he stretched the Baltimore defense and made them focus on a guy running down the field. Even though he is not catching all his deep targets, the defense has to respect him.
The Patriots defense played exceptionally well for the first time in weeks. They forced 3 INT’s, two from Flacco, who struggled mightily with his bad knee and did not seem to be comfortable in the pocket the whole game.
The Patriots held Ray Rice to 40 yards, including stopping Rice on a crucial 4th and 1 play when the Ravens were threatening to score in the 3rd quarter. Bernard Pierce ran for 31 yards on 10 carries.
Shane Vereen injured his groin during this game, which is defiantly something to keep your eye on in the upcoming week. Losing Vereen would be a major blow to this already banged up Patriot offense.
Now I am not going to get ahead of myself here. Although the Patriots looked extremely impressive, especially on the defensive side of the ball, I think I need to take a step back and look at this game. Joe Flacco had a mild MCL sprain, and had to wear a knee brace which affected his mobility in the pocket and could have taken some heat off his throws. It also ensured Flacco would not leave the pocket and try to make a play with his legs. Also, the Ravens run game has been nonexistent all year so the Patriots could really just focus on the pass this whole game. Now add those two together and you can see how I can still be a little hesitant on saying the Patriots Defense is back. Luckily we still have one more week to see if the Patriots can keep up this defensive effort against two very good running backs in Fred Jackson and C.J Spiller.
That being said this is obviously a major improvement from what we saw last week against Miami. I would consider this a statement win to the rest of the NFL. And that statement is no matter how many injuries New England endures, we will not go down quietly.
The Patriots face off against the Buffalo Bills next week who just shut out Miami 19-0 earlier today, which is only the second time this season a defense has shut out a team. This is not an easy game by any means.
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The Patriots (10-4) head into Baltimore to face the Ravens (8-6) in what may be the biggest game of the Patriots season. If the Patriots win this Sunday, they lock up the AFC East, stay in connention for the number 1 seed in the AFC, and will most likely knock the Ravens out of the playoffs.
The Ravens started off the season 3-5, and have gone 5-1 since. Although Ray Lewis retired and Ed Reed and the Ravens went their separate ways, they still have one of the best defenses in the league. They have the 7th best rush defense in the league and the 13th best pass defense. But the Ravens have struggled moving the ball on offense this year. The Ravens have the 29th ranked rushing attack in the league. After a great season last year (1,412 rush yards), Ray Rice has had a miserable 2013 campaign, rushing for only 605 yards on 197 rushing attempts. Ray Rice has only rushed for over 75 yards twice this season. He also has not been the receiving threat he has been in past seasons, catching only 49 balls for 263 yards, which is only a 5.4 yard average. The Ravens passing attack has not been much better, as it ranks 20th in the NFL. That being said, the Patriots pass defense made Ryan Tannehill look like Joe Montana last week.
Joe Flacco has been successful against the Patriots in the past, winning 3 out of six contests (which is good considering how dominant the Patriots have been during Flacco’s career). Flacco has thrown 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in those 6 games. Expect Flacco to have a good game against the Patriots secondary.
The Patriots defense needs to step up this week. Although the Ravens Offense has been struggling, they still have two talented wide receivers in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, who can hurt you at any given moment with a big play. Talib, who is finally starting to get healthy, and Dennard need to make sure these guys do not get behind them. If they do, Flacco will hit them down the field and it will be a very long day for this Patriots defense. Although Ray Rice has been struggling, he is still a very talented running back and could have a breakout game at any given time. The Patriots need to make sure they stop Rice early and often so he cannot get in any sort of rhythm running the ball.
A key injury to keep an eye on is Linebacker Brandon Spikes. Spikes is an anchor on the inside for this Patriots defense, and if he is a no go, I believe Ray Rice could break out of his funk and have a solid game for the Ravens.
The Patriots are expecting to have Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins back this week, which in my opinion is absolutely huge for this offense. Dobson and Thompkins can stretch the field for the Patriots, which will open up the underneath game for guys like Edelman and Amendola. But it will also open up the game for Shane Vereen. Vereen struggled last week against the Dolphins, as he only caught the ball 3 times of 8 yards and only rushed the ball 2 times for 17 yards. The reason Vereen struggled is the Dolphins defense really did not have to focus on a vertical threat for the Patriots which moved their defensive backs up which meant they could close in on Vereen quickly every time he caught the ball. But with Dobson and Thompkins back the Ravens will be forced to keep guys back which should open up the game for Vereen. Expect a big game from Vereen this Sunday. If you have Vereen in fantasy, start him, you heard it here first.
The Ravens are a good team, but they struggle on offense. Last week they did not score a single touchdown but somehow still came away with a win (thanks to Justin Tucker). The Patriots should be able to put up points even though the Ravens have one of the better defenses in the league. The Patriots defense will give up a lot of yards, but I think they will stop Flacco and company when it matters most, inside the red zone. As long as the Patriots are forcing the Ravens to kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, like the Lions did last week, the Patriots will win this game. Even though the Ravens have the 13th ranked pass defense in the league I believe Tom Brady will find a way like he always does and torch their secondary. Patriots win 24-23 and bounce the Ravens from playoff contention.
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The Patriots (10-4) dropped a tough one in Miami today to the Dolphins (8-6) 24-20.
Although the Patriots lost this game, there are a lot of positive to take away from this game. For starters the offense looked in sync, and that was without Dobson and Thompkins. Add the rookie WR combo into the mix and I believe the Patriots would of won today.
The absence of Gronk was felt today, as the Patriots had to settle for two field goals inside the red zone today. Their is no doubt that Gronk was the Patriots most deadly red zone target and he will be impossible to replace. But Thompkins and Dobson can be red zones weapons as well, and I think if they played today, the Patriots would of scored more touchdowns in the red zone and would not of had to settle for as many field goals. At the very least Brady would of had someone to toss one up to that wasn’t a slot receiver at the end of the game and would not of been forced to throw one up to Austin Collie in double coverage on their final play of the game.
That being said, the fact the offense looked the way it did today is very promising. Edelman finished the game with 13 receptions for 139 yards at 1 touchdown. Amendola finished the game with 10 receptions for 131 yards and almost came down with what would of been the game winning touchdown. Michael Hoomanawanui, Gronks replacement, came down with one of the more impressive catches you will see this Sunday.
The defense was able to stop the run and only allowed 89 total rushing yards to the Dolphins. That being said, they let Tannehill throw for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. At this point, I feel its almost like the Patriots defensive strategy is to pick their poison. They can either stop the run or the pass, but not both, which is troubling to say the least.
Mike Wallace had a big game receiving for the Dolphins and finished with 6 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Brian Hartline finished with 5 catches for 70 yards.
The Dolphins shut down Vereen today, only allowing him 3 receptions for 8 yards and 2 rushes for 17 yards. I would like to see the Patriots run Blount a lot more in the final two weeks of the season. He has been great this year, and today he ran 11 times for 47 yards, a 4 yard average. He is an absolute beast and every time he gets the ball he gains positive yards.
Ridley carried the ball 8 times for 34 yards. Look for him to see an increased number of touches as the weeks go on and Bellichick starts to regain some trust with the fumble prone running back.
If it was not for an errant kick by Gostkowski to set the Dolphins up on the 40 yard line on what would be their game winning touchdown drive, the Patriots could of very well of won this game. But Gostkowski has come up time and time again this season and is arguably the best kicker this year. He has hit 30-32 field goals this year (93.8%). So today, I will give him a pass.
Overall the offense seemed to still click today without Gronk, Dobson, and Thompkins, which is a good sign. Brady essentially had 3 slot receivers to throw today and no real deep threat besides Josh Boyce, who did not see too many snaps towards the end of the game. If Edelman and Amendola can have games like they did today when they were really the only two wide receivers the Dolphins had to focus on, just imagine what they will be doing once the defense has to worry about the big play against this Patriots offense. The two rookie wideouts should hopefully be back next week when the Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens. Tough loss for the Patriots, but there are some positives to take out of this game. I still believe this team is a Super Bowl contender and I expect them to prove that next week vs. the Ravens.
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The Patriots (10-3) travel down to Miami to face the Dolphins (7-6).
This is the Patriots first game the Patriots have played since Gronk tore his ACL. So this game should provide some clarity on how this offense will be with Gronk. I still think this offense will get it done. I expect Bellichick to give Ridley another chance to lead this rushing attack, and I expect Vereen to become a major asset in this Patriots passing offense.
Dobson and Thompkins are going to have to become major outside threats and vertical options for Brady. This will open up the game for Edelman and Amendola in the slot. All of these guys are going to need to step up to help fill the shoes that Gronk has left the Patriots again late in the year. Also it will be interesting to see if Bellichick and Brady work Josh Boyce into the offense, who has the speed to be a deep threat. He reminds me a little of Brandon Tate.
On the defensive side of the ball, we really need these guys to step up. If we let a guy like Josh Campbell tear our secondary up, Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, and Brian Hartline are going to have a field day. Guys like Talib, Dennard, and McCourty need to step up and start forcing turnovers. But the only way that is going to happen is if the front seven can put pressure on Tannahill and force him into mistakes.
Ryan Tannehill can not only throw the ball, he can also run around in the pocket and scramble for extra yards. Cam Newton did this and ran for 62 yards against the Patriots, and he bailed the Panthers out of third down situations with his legs. The Patriots have to keep Tannehill in the pocket and force him to throw the ball. If Tannehill can use his legs as a weapon, expect a long day for this Patriots Defense.
The one thing that may work in the Patriots favor this week is that the Dolphins struggle running the football. Lamar Miller has only rushed for 567 yards this season. To put that into perspective Ridley has rushed 611 yards and he has sat out a game, and has barely played in two due to his reoccurring fumbling problem. Miller has only rushed for over 75 yards once this season, and the Patriots need to keep it that way.
I expect Tannehill to rack up the passing yards on the Patriots secondary. Look for big games from the Dolphins Tight end Charles Clay, as the Patriots showed last week how much they struggle covering opposing Tight ends. Also look for a big game from Mike Wallace, as Talib is still hobbled from a hip injury. Expect a few big plays from Wallace.
Another injury to monitor is the concussion Nate Solder is dealing with. Solder is the Patriots best offensive linemen and if he can’t go, expect Tom Brady to be under some serious pressure from the Dolphins Defense.
The Dolphins are playing for their playoff lives this week, so expect them to play with that kind of intensity. The game is in Miami which works in the Dolphins favor. Tom Brady and this Patriots offense is going to have to have a big game against this Dolphins Defense just a week after losing Gronkowski, because Tannehill will have a big game against this secondary. But my gut tells me to stick with the Patriots and believe that the Patriots Offense will find a way without Gronkowski. My Final Prediction, 31-28 Patriots.
If you are a gambling man take Miami (Patriots will not cover 3.5 spread) and take the over.
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Ninja of the Night: Tom Brady
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots didn’t score a point in the first half of the game, trailing the Browns 6-0. It was a half that saw Brady off his game, completing less than 50% of his passes and less than a quarter later would lose his favorite target Rob Gronkowski.
The Captain of Cool didn’t let any of that phase him and the Patriots would score 27 second half points that included two touchdown passes by Brady both with only 61 seconds left in the game.
“That was awesome, ” said Brady, “pretty sweet.”
Pretty sweet indeed Mr. Brady, pretty sweet indeed
Tom Brady’s Stat Line
Rob Gronkowski’s MRI revealed what the Patriots feared, his season is over and his 2014 season hangs in limbo. Adam Schefter reported on twitter that the MRI did indeed reveal an ACL tear in Gronkowski.
Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots will have to do without the services of the Gronk, but they will definitely not be forgetting him.
“I don’t know what the circumstances are but we’re all there with him. We love him, he’s a big part of this team,” quarterback Tom Brady said after the 27-26 Patriots win. “It hurts to see any of those guys go down, so certainly with Gronk and we’ve sustained some pretty big injuries this year with really important, critical players. So we’ve just got to keep bouncing back. I always say that no one feels sorry for the Patriots, but I think we all feel sorry for Rob. But I don’t think anybody feels sorry for the Patriots. But we’re with him and we support him.”
The Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski, was carted off the field in the third quarter of their 27-26 win over the Browns. Cleveland’s safety TJ Ward went low on Gronkowski after he made a 21 yard catch, buckling the tight end’s knee.
Mike Garafolo reported that it was indeed a torn ACL and Gronk will have an MRI on Monday to confirm.
The Broncos didn’t waste anytime announcing they were going to start shopping Tim Tebow once Peyton made his decision. What kind of trade value does Tebow have and where will the quarterback end up?
There are so many story lines that could occur heading into this year’s Super Bowl. You could have an all Harbaugh brother coaching in the Super Bowl with Baltimore’s John versus San Francisco’s Jim. You could have a rematch of Super Bowl XLII with the Giants versus Patriots. You could have a rematch of Super Bowl XXXV with the Giants versus Ravens. Finally, you could the relentless defense of the 49ers versus the high octane offense of the Patriots. Any of these match ups will have to be talked about for two weeks leading up to the “Big Game”.
Will the home teams survive Championship weekend or will the road teams pull off upsets? Let’s break these games down to see who will be in Super Bowl XLVI.
#2 Baltimore Ravens @ #1 New England Patriots
The Ravens arrive in New England after barely hanging on at home against the Houston Texans. Ed Reed has basically called out his quarterback, Joe Flacco, and said that he has to play much better for the Ravens to advance. Offensively, Flacco needs the running game, Ray Rice, because the Ravens passing game is will not be enough to carry the offense. When they do pass, they must hit Torrey Smith on vertical routes and if that is not open then they need Anquan Boldin to make plays in traffic. Defensively, the Ravens are having a hard time putting pressure on the quarterback. They are going to have to figure out how to get pressure on Tom Brady from the nickel defense. Being in nickel forces Ray Lewis to be a blitzing linebacker because he won’t be able to cover the tight ends of the Patriots.
New England comes into the Championship game after blowing the wheels off the Denver Broncos. This game, as all Patriot games, rests squarely on the arm of Tom Brady. They will go no huddle and force the Ravens to show their hand and it will be up to Brady to dissect what he sees and throw it to the biggest mismatch which will usually be on one of the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Coach Belichick will do something creative on offense to make either Ray Lewis or Bernard Pollard cover one of the tight ends. If New England can get to 30 points it is going to be hard for the Ravens to match and turn them into a desperate offense. That desperation will help the leaky Patriot defense play pass and make the Ravens offense one dimensional. If the game is close, the Patriots can not allow Ray Rice to control the game.
Breakdown – If the Ravens can figure out a way to control the middle of the field and handle the spread offense it could be a long afternoon for Brady and the Patriots. If the Patriots can clamp down on Ray Rice and stop the lead plays the Ravens like to run and take away the Ravens vertical and flag routes it will be hard for the Ravens to move the ball. Winner: If this was the 2001 Ravens defense taking the field I would feel a lot better for the Ravens chances, but it is not. Tom Brady and his offense will be too much for the Ravens on this day. Patriots by double digits.
#4 New York Giants @ #2 San Francisco 49ers
The Giants come to the bay area after dismantling the Green Bay Packers. This team barely made into the playoffs and now they are the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Ahmad Bradshaw has come back and made this offense go. The Giants entered the playoffs as worst running team in NFL but, in the playoffs, they have run the ball more effectively than any team left. Eli Manning is making all the right decisions in the passing game and the defense is healthy again and wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Eli not has one play making wide receiver in Hakeem Nicks but has found another in Victor Cruz. The Giants’ defensive front four is the best front four left in the playoffs. The Giants don’t need to blitz to get to the quarterback and have been able to stop what little rushing they have seen. They Giants will learn from their earlier loss to the 49ers just as learned from the loss to the Packers.
The 49ers host the Giants after a fantastic game and, especially, finish in beating the New Orleans Saints. The 49ers is one of most tough minded teams in the NFL. They are relentless and they are not going to beat themselves. Alex Smith proved last week that he is able to bring a team back late in the game, which is something no one had seen until last week. I stated the Giants have the best defensive front four but the 49ers defensive front four is a very, very close second. The Smith bookends, Justin and Aldon, who both came from the University of Missouri are dominating the line of scrimmage for the 49ers.
Breakdown – If the Giants can stuff the running game of Frank Gore and make Alex Smith try and beat them with anyone not name Vernon Davis it could be a long night for the 49ers. If the 49ers can keep the game close into the 4th quarter, not beat themselves and rely on the best kicker in the NFL this year it could be a long trip back to New York for Eli and company. Winner: I didn’t think the Giants would beat the Falcons, I didn’t think the Giants would beat the Packers and I don’t see how the Giants are not going to win this game. Giants by 4-6 with a defensive stop on a driving 49ers to end the game.
And there is your Super Bowl match up, Giants versus Patriots. Agree? Don’t agree? Tell me why below. Went 3-1 last week with Giants messing me up.
Dear Kyle Orton,
I have been hurt by other Chiefs quarterbacks before. Im not sure I’m ready to get into a relationship with you. You did take some steps yesterday that may have laid the groundwork for a relationship. Let’s take it slow; I am willing to let you put your hands down my pants if you can play that good the next two weeks.
Doug, I’m interested but let’s take it slow
Dear Kansas City Chiefs,
Once again you guys show up when you are not expected to and then vanish when you should be there. I need mood stabilizers to watch a season of Chiefs football. Let’s see if you guys can win out and finish at .500 for the season. If you play the next two games like you did yesterday it can happen.
Doug, the taking a healthy dose of Prozac in preparation for the next two weeks.
Dear Sam Hurd,
When the Bears cut you was it into zips, teeners or 8 balls. Did they get your keys? Maybe the Bears lost because they weren’t all jacked up on your product. Have fun in an Illinois Correctional Facility.
Doug, The guy that has watched enough reality shows to know not to sell drugs.
Dear Tim Tebow,
I still hate you, because you play for the Broncos. It appears the New England Patriots are the Pontius Pilot of the NFL. “For you will know my name is Tom Brady when I lay 41 points upon thee” Playoffs 3:16. Please know I will become the biggest Bills fan this week in hopes that they can do the same thing. The bad part is the Patriots defense is horrible this year and they got you.
Doug, the guy that knew when you faced the right defense you would go down.
Dear Philadelphia Eagles,
Good Morning!! Nice of you guys to show up finally this year. However the party is almost over and you missed the fun. Where were you guys week 1 through 12? At either route, if you win out you still have a chance and may save Andy Reid’s job.
Doug, the guy the picked you for the Super Bowl
Dear Joe Flacco,
What’s up with the moustache bro? I can’t tell if you were about to rock out in a band, drive off in a Camaro or commit a sex crime. The horrible thing is probably the reason that you and the Ravens got rolled on the road last night. You look like a sexual predator and Ray Lewis looked like a cold blooded killer….wait I forgot he is.
Doug, the guy currently hiding from Ray Lewis
Dear Ryan Braun,
So you failed a drug test? You claim it was due to a medication you were taking for a STD. I’m not too sure which way to go on that one. I would almost the world know I was juicing up rather than playing with a rotten bat…if you catch me drip…I mean drift. Best of luck though.
Doug, the guy that doesn’t play in dirty ballparks.
Dear KC Sports Ninja Readers,
My computer deleted my Fixing The Chiefs Part 3 article, I promise that I will get it done this week.
Doug, the guy that used the dog ate my homework excuse in school.
Dear Kansas City,
I will be performing at Stanford and Son’s on Tuesday Night and The IMPROV on Weds Night. As my Christmas gift to you I am offering free tickets to both shows. You can get them by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or meeting me in front of the box office at Stanfords Tuesday Night at 7:30pm. If you want to go to the IMPROV show you can call 816.759.5233 and tell them you want to see Doug Cheatham and you are in for free.
Doug, the guy that wants you to come see him do hardcore comedy