Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Week 14 Report

Patriots vs. Chargers

The Patriots finished the 'Gauntlet' last night in San Diego with another win. Before this six game stretch many people said the Pats would be lucky to go 3-3. Well the only slip up was the Green Bay game last week. Last night's game was far from perfect, but the Pats got the job done and came away with a huge road victory to hold onto home field for now. The defense was outstanding last night even with the absence of Hightower and Jones. The offense was very inept at various points in the game, but in the end did enough to win.

For the second straight week, we saw the offensive line struggle and it really affected Brady and the offense. The O-Line played its worst game since the KC game. Brady took consistent pressure at times. The O-Line also got dominated in the run game as well. The first drive was very promising as Blount was running through the Chargers D, but from there, he averaged like 2 yards a carry. The Chargers were in the backfield all game not allowing anything from the run. The O-Line gave Brady time on some plays, but really will need to be a lot more consistent if they want to go deep into the playoffs.

Tom Brady had a really bad game for his standards. The obvious play that sticks out is the horrible pick at the end of the half. Similar to the Colts play at the end of that half, Brady had Gronk open on the play but just failed to make the throw. He was getting pressured on the play and didn’t step into it and the ball floater way short giving Gronk no chance. If anything, Brady should've taken a sack there and use the timeout and take the 3 points. It was a horrible play but good idea. If Brady puts something on that pass, it's a TD for Gronk. Brady also struggled throughout as he missed some easy ones and short armed others leading to inaccuracy. His TD to Gronk was a beauty though and a couple other passes were nice, but overall his play was lacking and he knows it. The Pats had 4 straight 3 and outs in the third quarter with great field position. The offense hasn't been on its game the last two weeks and has a lot it needs to work on.

The receiving corps got a huge boost from the gritty play of Edelman. He made a couple clutch third down catches and had the play to ice the game on a 69 yard TD where he broke a couple tackles. On a night where LaFell was quiet, and costly (the fumble), Edelman stepping up to make plays saved the team. Gronk had his usual production, but I still think Brady is not getting him the ball enough. He can turn a five yard out into a thirty yard gain. Gronk should be getting 15+ targets a game if you ask me. Teams continue to put single coverage on him and Brady needs to take advantage of that.

The defense was the real MVP of the night. They held the Chargers under 250 yards and only gave up 7 points. There are so many guys to talk about playing well as the entire unit was amazing. Revis is just the best CB in the game hands down. Keenan Allen still has yet to be found in San Diego. Revis gave up one catch for two yards on the night, outstanding. Brandon Browner showed his vulnerability on the Floyd TD, but overall the rest of the night was amazing as well. He also wins the award for getting jobbed the worst on his obliteration of LaDarius Green. The
refs completely blew the call saying it was helmet to helmet, when clearly Browner put his shoulder right into Green's life. Thankfully this called back pick six by McCourty didn't affect the outcome. The call was horrendous and could've cost the Patriots a win. Outside of that it's worth mentioning the continued great play of Arrington as he shut down Royal all night (surprising me). The Patriots of course drew up a great game plan to slow down Gates as he was held to 35 yards. This secondary can go toe to tie with any offense in the league.

Without Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower, I thought we were in trouble Sunday night. Hightower has been a great piece playing out of his mind and his absence, I thought, would have been noticeable on the field. Jamie Collins made me completely forget about him. What a freaking animal Collins is. He was beyond amazing Sunday. He led the team in tackles and had two sacks o Rivers. He was doing it all. His size, speed and playmaking ability make him such a crazy talent. If he can continue this kind of play the defense will shut down everyone.

The defensive line was very good Sunday as Siliga finally returned to action. The run defense struggled early on and his presence was noticed from there on out as the Chargers didn't have much room running the ball. Rob Ninkovich made a couple nice plays in this game as well. The biggest difference seen from this week's defense as opposed to last week was the aggressiveness in play calling. We saw multiple blitzes and different rushing schemes on defense whereas last week the defense only brought 3-4 rushers every play letting Rodgers sit back. That's been the key to this defense all season. It seems they play at their best when they get after it. This defense is going to be disgusting when Jones and Hightower return. The blitz schemes are going to ruin quarterback's days and our secondary will give teams no room to budge.

Sunday night was another example of how this team can wins in many different ways. The defense pitches a shutout in the second half to save the offense's ass and the offense shows life when needed. The Patriots now have 12 straight 10 win seasons and finish off the season vs. the AFC East opponents. They should win all three of these games and clinch the 1 seed and the ever important home field throughout the playoffs. If the offense can get back to what it was doing before and the defense continues to grow as players return, then this team will be unstoppable.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week 12 Report

Patriots vs. Lions

Another home game in November for the Patriots, yep, must have been a victory. And it was, again. The tear continues for the Patriots as they have abused every team so far on this 6 game "gauntlet". People were saying this team would be lucky to be 3-3 after the so called gauntlet; well the Pats are 4-0 so far on it winning every game by 20+. Pretty damn good. This team isn't just good anymore. They are scary good. After winning last week with the running attack, the Patriots played to the Lions weakness and destroyed them in the passing game. This ability to adapt week to week to fit whatever team they are playing makes this Pats team so dangerous. The defense can matchup with any offense in this league. The Patriots are looking at the best team they've had since 2007 and maybe even before.

The key to yesterday's game was to protect Brady from the Lions ferocious front 4 and the offensive line answered the call in that area. Brady was not sacked once yesterday and had clean
pockets to maneuver all day for the most part. Enough can't be said about the improvement of this group from Week 1 to now. Ryan Wendell is someone that needs a personal spotlight. He held his own vs. Suh and his play at right guard all season has been a complete 180 of last season's struggles. While the pass blocking was good, the run blocking struggled but this was expected as Detroit boasted the NFL's best run defense. Blount's return to New England was a good one has he powered in 2 TDs and racked up some garbage time yards. Only in New England with BB do you see a guy picked up off the street and days later runs for 2 TDs. Jonas Gray, who ran for 200 last week, did not play a single snap only furthermore showing the Patriots variety on offense. I expect to see some Gray and Blount this week though as a nice 1-2 combo of power from here on out though. Both players are similar when it comes to power, but Blount is more capable of breaking the big one, while Gray hits the hole with more authority and gets the tough yards.

Tom Brady was on his game yesterday. He made a couple bad decisions, especially on the blatant forced pick in the red zone, but overall he ripped apart the Lions secondary for 350 yards. The biggest thing that needs to be mentioned for Tom is the new mobility aspect to his game. His second TD pass to Wright was set up by Tom buying himself time in the pocket to find the open man. If he continues to do this to aid his OL, then the offense will continue to be a machine.

Brandon LaFell has been an awesome signing for this Patriots team as he has developed a great rapport with Brady. His length on the outside gives Brady a lot of room to work with and we've seen him make some great catches the past couple weeks. For the money he is making, LaFell has been a good bargain which BB loves and has certainly worked out here. Julian Edelman had a very good game Sunday with 11 catches as Brady's to go target. The pass offense has great variety with the big man Gronk, taller LaFell and shifter Edelman. Add Tim Wright as a nice red zone threat and the pass game is very good. It would be nice to see another guy on the outside step up whether it is Tyms or Dobson I would like to see one of them start making plays for us.

The defense again is the real talking point as they held Stafford to a career low completion percentage Sunday. The Revis price tag continues to sky rocket as he held Stafford to 1-10 throwing at him with four passes defended including two third downs stops. Golden Tate ended up with a nice stat line, but really was no difference maker outside of two big plays from the screen and blown zone coverage. Brandon Browner also did a great job with help from McCourty most of the day on Megatron. The Lions also had a lot of dropped passes that needs to be mentioned. Arrington, while playing great, was beat twice by Fuller who missed a chance on two easy TDs. The Lions also had a dropped pass by the TE in the end zone early on. The secondary overall played great and again it needs to be mentioned how important Chung has been to this team. The talent in the secondary allows them to go single high safety a lot of the time, which lets Chung pretty much play in the box much of the time. All aspects of his game have improved this season thanks to the scheme and talent around him.

The front seven continues to play outstanding as well. Alan Branch had his best game with the Pats Sunday in my opinion. Akeem Ayers continues to make us forgot about Jones' absence with his help in the pass rush. Rob Ninkovich continues to be under the radar making things happen for this defense. Dont'a Hightower has been HUGE. His leadership, communication and play on the field have left me speechless almost after seeing how he was on and off last season. Hightower is a very important piece on this defense as he is perfectly filling Mayo's job. The run defense did a great job stuffing Bell most of the day. The defense as whole is championship caliber. They are now getting off the field on 3rd downs consistently. They are hitting teams in the mouth and winning battles. I used to be scared to see the defense out there, now I can't wait for them to touch the field. Paying for the secondary was the best decision BB made in years.

The Patriots continue to roll and rip teams up weekly, but this week may be the toughest game they will face all season. The red hot Packers at home are as unbeatable as we are in Gillette. The defense will face their toughest opponent so far, Aaron Rodgers. This game could be a Super Bowl preview and is another great test for the Pats.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 11 Report

Patriots vs. Colts
There was another huge AFC showdown Sunday night for the Patriots and yet another huge AFC victory them. The Patriots continued their tear this season as they were able to earn their first ever victory in the Lucas Oil Dome. Tom Brady had his first down
game in weeks, yet the Pats were able to pull off the dominant victory. A game like this just shows the various ways this team can win games. Against Denver, they spread it out and threw all over them and Sunday against Indy they went into power mode and controlled them at the point of attack. A team like this that can win games throwing or running and playing smash mouth D is very dangerous. This win gives the Patriots a huge inside track on home field advantage in January.
Sunday night the offensive line completely owned the Colts defensive line. All week leading up I was saying we should just spread them out and throw all day (as Big Ben did with his huge 500 yard 6 TD game). The Colts defense isn't strong in any area and I thought our best bet would be to put the gunslinger and GOAT Brady in charge. But, the Colts defensive line was so manhandled that we HAD to run the ball. How could you not give Gray 35+ carries when the holes were wide open every single time? Huge props to the meatheads up front for the blocking and huge props to the undrafted free agent Gray for an amazing performance. He didn't play around at all in the backfield. Every carry he hit the hole with authority and drove the pile for a decent gain. Gray could add something this team has been missing since the Dillon days, the ability to pick up the tough yards. If Gray can consistently do this, there is a whole new layer added to this offense.
As for Tommy B the GOAT, wow what a tough game for him. I don't know what it is about that dome, but it's in his head. His first half on Sunday was downright atrocious. He missed a couple easy throws, made some poor 3rd down decisions (throwing deep to Tim Wright in double coverage with Gronk wide open underneath), and had the two god-awful picks. The first one to Tyms was a good idea, but when Tom saw the pressure getting to him he should've taken the sack or thrown the ball away. Heaving it up into triple coverage when you aren't able to step into it isn't the answer. Then there was the 3rd and 1 audible into the pass, which may be the worst decision Tom has made all year. I don't really mind the idea of changing the play to a play action streak to Gronk, because the play was there. The safety completely bit on the fake and if Brady had time the play was a TD. That's the problem; Brady got no protection and again heaved one up. If he takes the sack, it forced the colts to burn a timeout and we flip field position. Instead, colts get 7 easy points and make it a game at half. But, thankfully Brady woke up at halftime and played a great second half helping down the Colts. Since its Brady, I'm not worried about his play going forward, but that shit definitely can't happen again if we want to beat good teams consistently.
The receivers had a somewhat quiet game with the run game in focus. Rob Gronkowski was an absolute beast blocking however. I legitimately believe he could be a starting tackle for us if needed. His fire out there Sunday was awesome. Seeing him block Sergio Brown into the TV cart was beautiful. He takes no shit, which is something this team needs. His touchdown was amazing as well. The moment he caught it I knew he was going for six. He easily could've stepped out and taken the first down, but he quickly turned and started rumbling past the Colts weak defense. The man is an absolute beast and certainly deserves to be in the MVP race.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: Belichick has Luck's number more than he does Peyton's and that's saying something. Luck is now 0-3 vs. the Patriots throwing at least a pick in all games. This secondary, again, completely owned this Colts receiving group (except for Fleener). Revis took Reggie Wayne completely out of the game to the point where we didn't hear both their names called at all in the second half. Browner again showed plays where his strengths were on display, but also showed play glaring weaknesses as well. Overall, he a huge contributor on D and is a real asset to the new physical image of this secondary, but he needs to limit the mistakes and blown coverages. The boldest move on Sunday was easily seeing BB put Kyle Arrington in man coverage on the dangerous TY Hilton. When I first saw this, I thought we were in trouble, but man Arrington did a great job. TY has held below 30 yards, which is an amazing stat considering the guy puts up almost 100 weekly. Arrington really struggled last season and made many question the value of his contract, but maybe the groin injury he had really did affect his play. This season it's a whole new player. He hasn't made any dumb mistakes in coverage like he used to and has been solid week in and out. This secondary is beyond versatile being six deep with players that would start on other rosters. It's a great luxury to have knowing you can line up with any team and lock them up.
I know that the most talked about thing is how great the run defense played Sunday. I think we really shouldn't get carried away on this though. The Colts have easily one of the worst OL's in football and maybe the back with the worst vision (Richardson).  Yes, they did a great job taking away the run, but I'm not completely sold on them until they stop a runner like Eddie Lacy in two weeks. It's a great sign though to see the dominance. There are so many guys up front contributing. Vince is playing amazing, Alan Branch looked good in his real debut and young guys Jones and Easley have been solid. It also helps that the two LBs behind them, Collins and Hightower, are playing out of their minds. Collins is a tackling machine making a couple great third down tackles on Sunday and Hightower continues to thrive as he steps in for Mayo. These two are playing like seasoned vets even though both are on rookie deals.
Another big thing that needs to be pointed out is that Akeem Ayers has been a beast since coming here. He might not be getting sacks, but he certainly is applying pressure out there and doing a great job making sure we don't miss Chandler too much. I can't wait to see what the defense looks with Ayers and Chandler on the field at the same time. The Pats could develop a lethal pass rush with those two. Only Belichick could trade a 6th away for this guy and get him to be our best rusher.
The biggest takeaway from this game for me is that we shouldn't get too excited about beating the Colts. I don't think this Colts team is there just yet and I said I would be legitimately upset if we lost to them. They match up horribly with us and it showed Sunday. It was a great win, but now the Pats have three real tests coming up starting with a great defense in Detroit. That game will be a great measuring stick for how good our offense really is. But, again another huge win for this Pats team as they are tearing up the AFC contenders and proving all the doubters wrong. Hopefully the tear continues.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 9 Report

Week 9 Broncos Report

Yes. Yes. Yes. That's really all that describes the latest win for the flaming hot Pats. As everyone was busy hailing the Broncos as the Champs already, the Pats were getting better by the week under the radar. All of a sudden, after laying down the "best" team in the league, Tom Brady is at the top of the MVP ballot with five straight games of greatness. Again this week, the Patriots exceeded my expectations. I expected a tight battle and wasn't extremely

confident in a Pats victory, but they delivered big time. In the biggest game of the regular season, the Pats played their best game of the year and now control their own destiny in playoff seeding. Now there's a lot of time left, but still this tiebreaker over Denver is huge. Getting Manning in Foxboro over Denver is a HUGE difference.

Looking at the offense, the Pats run game wasn't effective all night. Gray and Vereen both carried the ball 10+ times and neither could get more than 3 yards a carry. The Pats, at least in my opinion, really tried to get the run going numerous times, but the O-line was not getting the push they needed and the Broncos D-line was really dominating up front. I didn't expect a good running performance from the Pats anyway as we know how good the Denver rush has been. The offensive line struggled in pass protection at times last night, but overall they played a fine game. The pass protection was much better than the run blocking, however. Solder got killed by stud Von Miller a couple times but Brady's newly found mobility helped keep the play alive. Brady has been in an absolute zone the last 5 weeks and this mobility he's developed has been a catalyst. A play that sticks out was the 3rd and pretty much a mile where Brady rolled all the way out to his right and roped one to Amendola for the first. That play was such a big conversion and a huge example as to why a little QB mobility can be so helpful.

The receivers continue to make plays for the offense as Gronk's health has completely turned this offense into a machine. We saw Gronk go for 100 yards and a TD again which included his amazing one handed catch in the red zone. The best thing the Pats have done this season with Gronk is when they motion him outside. The moment Gronk goes outside it's a complete mismatch. If there's a CB on him, the size is too much. If there's a LB on him, the speed and catch radius is too much. And if you decide to double him, Brady will just tear you apart elsewhere. Last night when Brady motioned Gronk out he was almost amazed as Denver let their rusher Miller go out and defend him one on one. Brady looked happily surprised and knew it was over. Too easy. Just too easy. As for the rest of the group, Julien Edelman had an amazing bounce back game highlighted by an 84 yard punt return and a receiving TD. Like I said last week, JE11 may not be the top option anymore, but when called upon he will deliver. LaFell had a tough game. He's been known for drops in Carolina, and those drops hadn't surfaced in New England until yesterday. If he caught all his passes, LaFell easily would have had over 100 and two TDs. He still ended up with a modest stat line and a decent game, but he needs to focus more and catch all balls coming his way.


The Bill Belichick coached defense yet again handled Manning in this rivalry. Yesterday showed the exact reason why Revis and Browner were brought here. The mixing and matching of coverages yesterday was awesome. Early on,  Revis
struggled giving up 3 passes, but after that drive he gave up NOTHING. I don't think he was targeted again until the 4th quarter when this thing was in garbage time. We saw Revis on both Thomas's and Sanders at various points in the game and same with Browner. Browner played a good game including the pick that fell into his lap. Of course, he picked up a couple of flags in this one, but who is really surprised? The biggest surprise of the season may be the play of Patrick Chung. I had this guy as someone who would be cut or just a backup guy in this defense, but wow he's been playing well. He was all over the field Sunday and his overall play has improved a lot since leaving New England. It's amazing to think he was benched just a couple years ago and BB let him walk in free agency and now he's the starting safety again. Malcolm Butler had a decent game considering he was matched up with Manny Sanders. Overall the secondary played an amazing game. Yes they gave up 400 yards passing but they beat up the Denver WRs and got off the field on 3rd and 4th down, which is something the old Pats defenses wouldn't do.  

The front seven may be the most underrated part of this game by people. In my opinion, the biggest reason why the secondary was so successful against Manning was because early on in the nickel D the Pats were able to stop the run. Last season, we saw BB bait Manning into running the ball 40+ times and the run killed the Pats, but this season early on they baited Manning AND stopped the run. That was huge. Denver had no choice but to pass from there. Wilfork was a monster in the run game and Collins and Hightower were hitting all the gaps needed to stop Hillman. Collins seemed to be all over the field Sunday. He had one bad play on the PI, but the rest was great. This was definitely his best game of the season. Dont'a Hightower continues to look very comfortable taking on the Mayo role in QB'ing this defense. He seems confident in the play calling and communicating with other guys and getting everyone in position. Hightower and Collins both did a great job of blitzing the A-gap throughout the game causing problems for Manning. Akeem Ayers has already been a great pickup by BB has he, in my opinion, had the play of the game sacking Peyton on 4th down late in the first half. If he can continue to gain steam, the pass rush will be very dangerous with Jones back. Rob Ninkovich had himself a game yesterday most notably the interception of Manning. The throw was right at Rob. Either Manning made a really stupid throw, or Nink made a really nice play. Whatever the case, the pick was another huge turning point in this game. There was only one sack on Manning, but pressure was there on numerous occasions, which is a great sign.

This game was the Super Bowl of the regular season. This is the game that is circled first when the schedules come out. The Patriots came out and won the biggest game of the year, so far, decisively. BB yet again drew up a game plan to beat Manning. The Pats know hold their own destiny for seeding and need to take advantage of that. I think it's safe to say as long as Brady, Gronk and Revis are healthy the Pats can play with Denver in Gillette or in their stadium and have a legit shot at winning. The Patriots came out and proved to America that they are legit contenders.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Celtics Season Preview

Celtics Season Outlook


Guards: Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey, Avery Bradley, Marcus Thornton, James Young 

Forwards and Centers: Jeff Green, Evan Turner, Gerald Wallace, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Dwight Powell, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller

So here we are the start of another basketball season. The Celtics are coming off of a tank season that landed them Marcus Smart and James Young in the draft. After a season of rooting for losses to gain draft position, I don't expect the same thing this season, sadly. We are looking at a Celtics team right now that may be too talented to tank in a very weak Eastern Conference. I would argue that the C's could be better than the Nets, Knicks and Pacers (without Paul George). Jared Sullinger has improved greatly. Kelly Olynyk will only be better as well. Marcus Smart could be a difference maker, but time will tell on that one. They also went out and acquired a talented Evan Turner. They also traded for a good scorer Marcus Thornton and a nice depth piece Tyler Zeller. The biggest reason I see the Celtics as the 8-seed in the East this season is because both Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green will be playing for new lucrative contracts. If both of these guys stay healthy and play hard for 82 games, then this well coached team by Stevens will be looking at many wins versus bad teams.

Now while I think the Celtics can contend for the 8-seed, I really don't know if they should. They could try and go full fire sale of some players and try to land in the bottom again to obtain another young talent. I'm not against this Tankapalooza 2.0, but right now with this roster in place, I see too much talent for that. I could see the Celtics started very hot led by Rondo and Green, then trading both of them for high value and falling back in the standings as the season progresses. But none of that is a guarantee.

In the end, the risky move is to allow the team to be stuck in NBA purgatory, which the Celtics may be looking at. If Rondo and Green are both gone after this season though, tanking could just resume in 2015-16. This season I see the Celtics winning anywhere from 33-41 games which is good enough for the 8-seed in the East. They won't make any noise in the playoffs, but I certainly can see them in it.

Team MVP: Jared Sullinger

Top Scorer: Jeff Green

Rebounder: Sullinger

Assist Man: Rondo

NBA Predictions

NBA Predictions

1) Cleveland Cavaliers
2) Chicago Bulls
3) Washington Wizards
4) Miami Heat
5) Toronto Raptors
6) Charlotte Hornets
7) Atlanta Hawks
8) Boston Celtics

9) Brooklyn Nets
10) Indiana Pacers
11) New York Knicks
12) Detroit Pistons
13) Orlando Magic
14) Milwaukee Bucks
15) Philadelphia 76ers

1) San Antonio Spurs
2) Los Angeles Clippers

3) Oklahoma City Thunder
4) Portland Trailblazers
5) Houston Rockets
6) Golden State Warriors
7) Dallas Mavericks
8) Memphis Grizzlies

9) New Orleans Pelicans
10) Denver Nuggets
11) Phoenix Suns
12) Sacramento Kings
13) Los Angeles Lakers
14) Minnesota Timberwolves
15) Utah Jazz
Conference Finals:
Spurs over Thunder
Bulls over Cavs

Finals: Spurs over Bulls
MVP: LeBron James
Comeback POY: Derrick Rose
Rookie: Jabari Parker

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

All-NBA 1st Team:
Russell Westbrook
Chris Paul
LeBron James
Anthony Davis
Dwight Howard

All-NBA 2nd Team:
Steph Curry
James Harden
LaMarcus Aldridge
Blake Griffin
Marc Gasol

Extended Thoughts:

• I think it's safe to say LeBron's new big 3 in Cleveland will win a lot of games during the season and likely be the favorite heading into the playoffs. I think the Cavs, outside of LBJ, have a lot of growing to do. The reason I see the Bulls beating Cleveland is the veteran leaders of Rose, Gasol and Noah. LeBron won't be able to carry the young team highlighted by Irving, Waiters and Love just yet. This Cavs team may be a dynasty in the near future, but that dynasty won't start this season.

• The Spurs to me will continue to dominate as Leonard is only getting better and Parker still has a lot left in the tank. Add Danny Green and a nice rookie Kyle Anderson and the Spurs are slowly becoming a young force with the veteran leadership as well.

• I feel that people are really underestimating the Heat this season. DWade will be limited at times, yes, but Chris Bosh should revert back to his Toronto days where he was averaging 24/11. I think the core of Wade/Deng/Bosh carry easily carry Miami to a 4-5 seed in the East and have some vets that will be ready for playoff action.

• My sleeper team of the season believe it or not, is the home team Boston Celtics. I believe that both Rondo and Green will be playing hard and consistent ball for 82 games as both are looking for new contracts. Add those two with Sullinger and a couple nice scorers at guard and the Celtics will be able to win games in a relatively weak Eastern conference.

• My other sleeper teams to watch are the Wizards (in the playoffs), because they have nice young talent and brought in clutch scorer and my favorite player ever Paul Pierce. I also see the Pelicans being a team led by star Anthony Davis that may compete for one of the last playoff spots in the West.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 8 Report

Week 8 Report: Bears

             What a great performance turned in by the Patriots this weekend in their absolute blowout of the Bears. They dominated in all facets of the game and held a commanding 38-7 lead at half. I knew the Patriots were going to be able to move the ball at will on the Bears and their shaky D, but not to that extent. Brady was perfect all day and tore up the Bears. I expected a somewhat close game with the Bears having a good offense, but that wasn't nearly the case. The Patriots seem to be peaking at the perfect time as the perceived best team in the league, Denver, comes into town on Sunday for a huge battle.

Offensively, I think we all know what offensive line combination is best for this team now. With Stork and Connolly back, we saw a unit that is coming along nicely.  Wendell at right guard, Connolly at left guard and Stork at center has proved to be the best combo for the interior. Stork, for a rookie, has really outplayed my expectations for him already. He had a couple tough slip ups on Sunday, but overall he played another nice game. He's a 4th round pick already starting for a contending team. If the O-line continues to play at this level protecting Brady, it will be tough to beat the Pats. When Brady has time like he did on Sunday, he's near flawless especially with a healthy Gronk. Of course, the biggest key to this offensive line's consistency is health. If they can stay healthy, I think we can expect pretty good protection for Tom most of the time. The run blocking was also very good Sunday, but that should be expected against a below average run D in Chicago. Jonas Gray looked very good in his first real game action for the Pats. It's safe to say he's won the backfield there. He runs very hard and always gets positive yards like Ridley which is very nice. He may be a gem for us. As for the O-line, I think we can expect them to run block well versus average and below average run defenses, but they will struggle against some of the better run Ds. I can live with that though as long as they can keep Brady protected.

The receiving group is really starting to come together as this season progresses. Brandon LaFell is really finding his niche in this system and has really gained the trust of Brady. He brings a bigger presence on the outside, which is really different than what we are used to seeing from WRs. Edelman has really disappeared in this new offense with the bigger targets being the focus. We saw him drops a couple balls on Sunday and only have one catch on the day. While his role has diminished, Edelman can be trusted to take over a game if he is called upon. The Gronk is back boys. He may not be 100% just yet, but he's pretty damn close. He's running much smoother than he was to start the season. His routes are faster and crisper. When he's playing at this level, the man is pretty much impossible to stop. It will take at least two guys to stop him, but that will just open up LaFell on the outside in 1-on-1 situations and Edelman on the inside as well. As long as Gronk can stay healthy, this offense should continue to roll, big time. We also can't forget about Tim Wright whose role seems to be growing week to week. The receiving group, as long as Gronk is there, could be the strongest group on the team. The last month has really displayed how Gronk is easily the best TE in the league and one of the most dynamic players. He makes life for Brady much easier as well, which is a given, shown through Brady's 14 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the month of October.

Defensively, we saw the offseason acquisitions made by BB come to fruition as the secondary completely smothered the Bears' twin towers Marshall and Jeffery. Revis Island was all over Marshall most of the game and even on Alshon, too. Every week, Revis continues to display why he still in the discussion, if not leading it, for best corner in the league. We saw a very good showing from Browner on Sunday, in my opinion. He picked up a couple flags, but with him you know what you are getting, a physical guy. Browner made a couple nice open field tackles and also had some nice plays in coverage. As long as you can put him in the right situation, he can be very good for this defense. The secondary continues to shine for this Pats D as they are #1 in the league in yards allowed.

As for the front seven, we saw a unit that struggled to contain maybe the hottest and best back in the league, Forte. Forte has been killing every defense he has played, but still it's not a total excuse to let up the yards they did. Pass rush wise, the front seven had a great day. We saw Easley look effective out there as he seems to be back from his injury. The new acquisition Akeem Ayers even showed some nice rushes off the edge. Hopefully he can continue to grow in this defensive scheme. I thought Dont'a Hightower did a great job on Sunday in the Mayo role communicating for the defense. The experience he got last year at that spot is really coming in big for him this season. The defense is coming along very well as the best offense in the league is coming to Gillette. They really need to be up to the task on Sunday. Hopefully Alan Branch can suit up and add an extra body up front for depth in the run game. Sunday is a huge day for the secondary as they will be dealing with the Thomas' and Sanders, which is one tall order. Belichick always draws up a great scheme against Peyton Manning, so expect something interesting on Sunday from the defense. This is the real test.

So here we are, a month after people were unbelievably saying the Patriots were done and Brady should be benched, the Pats sit at 6-2 on a 4 game win streak. Brady has looked like the league MVP in October and the defense is playing consistent ball as well. With health, this Pats team will be the contender we all expected. The Broncos game Sunday will be a very good measuring stick for them and this is a HUGE game for playoff seeding. It's not a must win, but a win this weekend would be amazing.

Ups: Brady, Gronk, LaFell, O-Line, Secondary

Downs: Edelman, Vereen