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.

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