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 cleanpockets 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.