Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

Patriots Schedule Released; Complete 2017 Patriots Preview

The Patriots schedule has been released for the 2017 regular season and the Super Bowl champs will take on the Kansas City Chiefs to start off the season. Let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule and see what we could prepare for from the reigning Super Bowl champs this season.

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The Pats will raise banner number five against the Chiefs on Thursday Night September 7th and can fully expect the Patriots and the Gillette Stadium crowd to be as fired up as ever and come out with a win over the Chiefs. The Patriots will follow up by traveling down to New Orleans to take on Brandin Cooks now former team the Saints. As of now the Saints have only taken a step backwards with trading Cooks to New England and still has a lackluster defense that the Patriots offense should carve up. There’s still some chance that cornerback Malcolm Butler could be traded to the Saints before next week’s NFL Draft and even so I would fully expect the Patriots to come out with a win against the Saints.

Pats Chiefs LA Times

The Patriots will then travel back to Foxboro for back to back home games with the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. New England has had Houston’s number over the past several years and it hasn’t been close. The Patriots will come out and win this game easily. Carolina suffered a Super Bowl hangover last season following their embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos and had a down season. Carolina struggled on both sides of the ball last season following the departure of cornerback Josh Norman and average play by quarterback Cam Newton. Carolina was fairly quiet this offseason, even trading defensive end Kony Ealy to the patriots for relatively nothing. New cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s big frame and physical style of play should be a good matchup against Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and the Patriots should come out this game with a win.

The Patriots then travel down to Tampa Bay for a Thursday Night matchup against the Buccaneers. This could be a game the Patriots struggle in for a few different reasons and one that may be overlooked by some. Thursday Night games are always tough with it being a short week, especially for the away teams who have to travel. The Buccaneers also made a big signing this offseason in wide receiver DeSean Jackson who should pair up nicely with one of the best wide receivers in the league in Mike Evans and give quarterback Jameis Winston another deep threat.  This could give New England’s defense some problems trying to cover the two wide receivers all game. Tampa Bay’s defense though still isn’t very good and shouldn’t be able to stop the Patriots high powered offense. This should be a very good, close game and give the Patriots their first real test early on in the season.

Mike Evans yahoo

The Patriots then travel to New York to take on the Jets. With how good this Patriots team should be and how bad the Jets are going to be the Pats could drop 50 on the Jets and win this game easily.

Then the matchup were all going to be waiting for, the Super Bowl rematch. The Patriots will take on the Atlanta Falcons as a rematch of the greatest Super Bowl of all-time. I don’t see the Pats losing 28-3 at one point but do expect a truly great game as both teams have only gotten better since the end of the season. This could be a potential game the Patriots could lose going up against another great team in the Falcons, but with it being at Gillette and what the atmosphere is going to be like the Patriots should win this game.

Edelman catch nydailynews

The Patriots will stay at home for a matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. Whenever I watched the Chargers last year my respect for Phillip Rivers only got higher as he made that Chargers team average with not much around him. Should be a fairly easy win for the Patriots heading into the bye week.

Following the bye week things will get interesting as the Patriots will travel to Denver to take on the Broncos and then Mexico City to take on the Raiders. These will both be tough games for the Pats traveling to the west coast. While Denver isn’t quite the team they were a few years ago they always play the patriots well, and the Patriots always struggle in Denver. Last year Marcus Cannon was the complete opposite of what he was again Denver in the AFC Championship game from the year before when Von Miller kept blowing by him like he was a revolving door. With a new coach in Vance Joseph and no more Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator the Patriots should be able to pull out a win in Denver where they tend to struggle. The Patriots then head down to Mexico City to take on the Raiders in what could be an AFC Championship game preview. The Raiders are one of the best young teams in the league with a great young quarterback in Derek Carr, who I love as a player. The Raiders have a great offensive line and two very good receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and could be getting Marshawn Lynch to come out of retirement to handle the teams running back duties. Oakland’s defense was average last year even with the great play of Khalil Mack. The Raiders will have to look to address their secondary in the draft to get better. The Patriots offense shouldn’t have too much of a problem against this Raiders defense and should be a great game. Due to the travel and tough competition the Patriots going 1-1 in this stretch isn’t out of the question.

Brady spike proplayerinsiders

The Patriots will then head back home for a game against the Miami Dolphins, who made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2008. The Dolphins have a pretty good, young talented roster with wide receivers Davante Parker and Jarvis Landry, who said the Dolphins would sweep the Patriots, and running back Jay Ajayi who had a big emergence in the second half of the season last year. Should be a good, tough AFC East matchup that I expect the Patriots to win at home.

The Patriots then have a three game stretch of away games against Buffalo, Miami and Pittsburgh. The Patriots have tended to struggle some against Tyrod Taylor and his mobility over the past several seasons but always come out with a win. The Patriots then travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins for the second time in as many weeks. The Patriots have had a history of struggling against the Dolphins in Miami and seeing the teams in as many weeks the teams should be prepared for each other’s game plans. This game could mean more for Miami fighting for a wild card spot than it does the Patriots at this point in the season. After that the Patriots travel back up the east coast to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Championship game rematch, where the Patriots just completely dominated the Steelers. I don’t expect the Steelers to come out as flat as they did in January and make this an actual game against the Pats. Pittsburgh has a very talented offense with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, who are some of the top guys at their positions. The past few years the Steelers have seemed to come out flat against the Pats and the Pats have gotten the better of the Steelers. Possible AFC Championship game preview in what should be a good game. The Patriots going 2-1 on a three game road stretch could definitely happen, I think that loss could come against Miami as the game could be the difference if making the playoffs or not for the Dolphins.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots

The Patriots then wrap up the regular season at home with back to back games against AFC East opponents Bills and Jets. These should both be two easy wins for the Pats to finish the season off with headed into the playoffs. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me though if the Patriots rest everyone week 17 against the Jets and the Jets win and screw up their spot in the draft in classic Jets fashion.

Overall, I think the Pats will finish the regular season at 13-3 and the number one seed in the AFC. Of course I want to say 16-0 but outside of the 2007 season it just something that doesn’t happen and I would rather be realistic. I expect the Patriots to drop one of the two tough road games on the west coast against good opponents and tough places to play. The three game road stretch at the end of the season is also tough and a lot of travel which could affect the team. There will then be one game where the patriots come out flat against a team they shouldn’t, it happens every year. Ultimately the Patriots finish up as the number one seed in the AFC and Super Bowl favorites.

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New England Patriots: Confidence Is Soaring As The Season Winds Down

2015 Ended Poorly

As the 2015 season wound down, Bill Belichick made some decisions that, looking back, turned out to be questionable (I know, that is heresy in New England, but look at the results).  After winning their first eleven games the Patriots started to wilt. With a bunch of walking wounded, a beat up Tom Brady and the play-offs with home field in game-one guaranteed, he rested some key players and went to a non-existent running game against the J-E-Ts and Dolphins. For the 1st time in may years the Patriots seemed to be playing not-to-lose. 

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2015 Brady got beat up in Denver

Well, as we all know (so why am I reminding you????) the Pats lost both those games and went into the play-offs having lost four of their last six games. They never completely recovered from those decisions. After winning a home play-off game against the Chiefs (27-20) they traveled to Denver and lost to the ultimate Super Bowl Champion Broncos (20-18) in the Conference Championship game.

How Different Is 2016?

Now, with two games remaining in the 2016 regular season, New England faces the same two teams, NY J-E-T-S and Miami, in a similar situation. The J-E-T-S are out of the race, but always give the Patriots a good fight…and the Dolphins continue to fight for a play-off spot.

So…why does it feel so different?  Here are 5 reasons:

  1. The 2016 Patriots are now playing their best football of the season, unlike 2015, when they were unsure if the defense or offense could hold up
  2. Tom Brady won’t be going into these games already bruised & battered thanks to Dante Scarnecchia and a rejuvenated OL (yeah, I know he’s back to limited practice & on the injury list…but he’s still in better shape than last year) 
  3. The running game is at it’s peak, with LeGarrette Blount rushing for 15 TDs and over 1,000 yards…a healthy Dion Lewis..a solid #3 with James White and the impressive blocking of James Develin. Last year neither Blount nor Lewis were playing due to injuries
  4. The defense is #1 in points against in the NFL. I’ll say that again, the defense is #1 in points against in the NFL
  5. Bill Belichick seems completely confident in all aspects of the Pats game. He’s willing to trust his defense (say what?), offense or special teams to make the crucial play at the end of the game. That’s something that has been missing for many years

Same Decision = Different Results

So, that said, what if Belichick makes the same decisions this year that he did in 2015? If he does, the results should be completely different. This team is tough and in no way resembles the 2015 version of the New England Patriots.

malcolm-mitchell-vs-sf
Mitchell vs 49ers courtesy of Boston Herald.com

They don’t have Rob Gronkowski or Danny Amendola and both are big losses. However, they do have a bruiser in Blount, a quick Lewis plus new heroes in Chris Hogan (highest yards-per-catch in the NFL) and the speed of rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell. Add in tough TE Martellis Bennett and, oh yeah, a well rested Tom Brady!

With a defense that is starting to click without Chandler Jones or Jamie Collins…but is lead by Trey Flowers, always reliable Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long and, suddenly rejuvenated Jabaal Sheard, Malcolm Butler, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower and a host of others…they are a formidable bunch.

NOTES:

  • Congratulations to Brady, Slater, Hightower & McCourty on their selection to the 2016 NFL Pro-Bowl. Hopefully none will be able to play as they prepare for the Super Bowl
  • Condolences to Malcolm Butler, Blount and Marcus Cannon (can’t believe I’m saying this), who all deserved a shot too
  • The NFL is always fair & objective…just look at their recent “punishment” to the Giants & their Head Coach for being caught cheating! #Integrity
  • This has been an outstanding year for Patriot Coaches Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Scarnecchia
  • Tom Brady is being penalized again! Many are saying he doesn’t deserve the MVP because he has played 4 fewer games than the others in the running. King Goodell strikes again
  • The Patriots are the only team in the NFL who have not lost a road game this year. Despite that, the advantage of playing in Foxborough in the playoffs is huge.

 

Dante Scarnecchia

 

Hard to believe, but, 14 games down (12-2) with just 2 more before the real season begins. This season has flown by.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

 

Week Two Preview: Patriots vs. Dolphins

After a week one 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, the Patriots will make their home season-opener against the division opponent Miami Dolphins in week two of the NFL season. The Dolphins are coming off a tough week one loss against the Seattle Seahawks, where they lost after Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson found wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a touchdown in the final seconds of the game. There should be a lot to watch for with both teams coming off close games against tough NFC West opponents. Here are things to watch for and the Patriots will need to do to come out victorious for a second straight week.

 

Patriots Offensive Line

I have to admit, the Patriots offensive line played surprisingly well week one against the Cardinals with the absences of Solder, Vollmer and Cooper. We all know offensive line has been an area of concern for the Patriots and both Cameron Fleming and Marcus Cannon stepped up and played well against the Cardinals. This week they could both be starting again against another tough defensive line in Miami, with Ndamakong Suh, Mario Williams and Cameron Wake all being top pass rushers. Miami was constantly pressuring Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson last week and caused a minor injury to the quarterback, which likely lead to the low-scoring final score. If Nate Solder is not able to play for a second straight week the play of Fleming and Cannon will be very important for the Patriots offense.

cameron-fleming
via patspulpit.com

Containing Arian Foster

Yes I know, this is not 2011 but in his first game back from injury and with his new team Foster proved to be a big part of the Miami Dolphins offense. Against Seattle, Foster led the Dolphins in both rushing and receiving yards tallying only 38 yards on the ground on 13 attempts but had 62 yards on three receptions. The Pats will need to use Jamie Collins or Jonathan Freeny or even possibly Barkeviovs Mingo to cover and follow Foster out of the backfield. Mingo did not play against Arizona and is more of a pass rushing linebacker than a coverage backer but with his speed he could be someone the team to turn to to cover Foster and other backs throughout the season in the passing game without having to alter their defensive gameplay by moving Collins or Hightower.

arian-foster-fox
via foxsports.com

Will Gronk play? 

The big question that no-one knows the answer to. After a minor injury in the preseason it seemed like the Patriots were just holding Gronk out of preseason games as a precaution, that is until he missed last weeks matchup. How serious is Gronk’s injury? How long will he be out for? No one knows these questions, one positive sign though is that Gronk did report to the field for Wednesday’s practice and was listed as limited on the teams injury report. The Patriots offense looked decent on Sunday night and Garoppolo played well, but adding arguably and most dynamic and best player in the entire NFL back into your offense will always be an improvement.

gronk-preshapereads
via preshapereads.com

Justin Coleman

Coleman was the teams third cornerback for most of Sunday Night and looked very impressive, almost picking off Carson Palmer on two separate occasions. Coleman was someone who I was personally down on during the preseason and struggled a lot, I even kept him out of my 53-man roster projections, but he seemed to prove myself and many others wrong with his play the other night. This week he’ll likely be up against wide receiver Kenny Stills, which isn’t as tough a matchup as Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd or John Brown, but I would still like to see how he performs and see if he can take a hold of that third cornerback spot, that at one point looked like could be trouble for the Patriots.

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots
via musketfire.com

 

These are some of the things I will be looking to see in this Sunday’s divisional matchup against the Miami Dolphins.

New England Patriots: Play The Subs…PLEASE!

Another goal was reached Sunday when the New England Patriots routed the terrible (3-11) Tennessee Titans 33-16 in their final regular season game at Gillette Stadium. The win brought the beat-up, battered bodies of the home team to 12-2, but, more importantly, Denver’s loss to Pittsburgh guaranteed them a first round bye. The Patriots have now earned that honor for an NFL-record six consecutive seasons.

Malcolm Butler had a big game, including this interception in the end zone in front of Harry Douglas (83) (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Malcolm Butler had a big game, including this interception in the end zone in front of Harry Douglas (83) (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

How’s This For The Most Dominant Team In This Decade

  • Second team to ever have at least 6 straight 12 win seasons
  • Most seasons earning a bye since 12 team playoff format since 1990
  • 5 sacks against Tennessee and at least one sack in every game in 2015
  • Bill Belichick is 55-11 (.833) in December with New England, the best record in December among head coaches with one team in NFL history (min. 25 games)
  • Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning for the NFL record with the most seasons with 35 TDs (4)

The Patriots wrap up the season with road games in NY against the Jets and Miami to take on the Dolphins. They need to win one of those two games to assure home field advantage up to the Super Bowl. How important is home field? Well, since 1996 the Patriots are 17-3 playing at home in the real games. ‘Nuf said?

So, Who Do You Rest & When?

With injuries piling up every week the question arises, at what point do you start resting some of the walking wounded? The answer seems simple, NOW.

We all know Tom Brady will grit it out until the end, but even with a rotation of healthy running backs (James White has really stepped up and who wasn’t impressed with Joey Iosefa, oh yeah, and now Steven Jackson), enough WRs to get by (Brandon LaFell, Keshawn Martin, Leonard Hankerson Chris Harper) and the World’s greatest tight end (no need to name him is there?) New England should be able to win one, if not both of their remaining games.

Let Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman get as healthy as possible. Keep them on the bench until the games really matter, 4 weeks from now.

The defense continues to shine, so sitting Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung shouldn’t matter. Yes, all 3 are critical players if the team is to play in Super Bowl 50, but right now they can be replaced in the short run.

Defense Shines Again

Akiem Hicks recovers the ball for a TD after it was stripped from Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Akiem Hicks recovers the ball for a TD after it was stripped from Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Despite an understandable let-up in the second half the defense once again dominated. The list of players impressing grows game-to-game. This week it was Akiem Hicks turn to step up with a strip-sack (Chandler Jones featured photo) fumble recovery for a TD, a sack of his own, 4 tackles and constant pressure up the middle.

  • Chandler Jones had a two-sack game, bringing his season total to 12 1/2
  • New England is tied for 1st with Denver in team sacks (47)
  • The Patriots are now in the Top 10 in all key defensive stats…Points (7th), Yards (6th), Passing (8th), Rushing (10th)

Next Game: 1PM Sunday vs the Jets

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

 

 

Perfectly Dominant, but for how long?

bostonglobe.com
bostonglobe.com

Every great story hits a half way point, for the 2015 New England Patriots that half way point is quickly approaching with the arrival of the Washington Redskins this Sunday. How has the Patriot journey come thus far and where will it eventually lead? After a rough start to the 2014 season, the Patriots fought back with an impressive array of wins and eventually won the Super Bowl beating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24. What would be an end to one journey begot the start of another: Redemption. Not that anyone needs to be reminded ,but the Patriots 2015 post Lombardi afterglow was vehemently destroyed by the NFL due to allegations made by the Indianapolis Colts that the Patriots were playing with deflated balls in the AFC Championship game.

goodell-egg

The NFL proceeded to drag both Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots through the mud with unproven allegations of scheming and cheating. Roger Goodell attempted to suspend Brady for the first four games of the season, comparing his suspicions to an actual act of PED use as basis. Tom Brady won his case in court and prepared to take the field more determined than ever. Many questioned whether Tom Brady and the Patriots could still win amidst this controversy and the unfortunate departures of an elite secondary tandem consisting of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Taking a look at the first half of the 2015 NFL season, did the Patriots falter or prevail?

at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The New England Patriots battled AFC rival the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium.  The Patriots started off slow allowing Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams to run rough shod over their defense. Much to the chagrin of the Pittsburgh faithful , Tom Brady got his offense rolling and had it not been for a garbage time touchdown by Ben Roethlisberger late in the 4th quarter the final score of 28-21 would not have looked as hotly contested. Keeping the off field shenanigans rolling, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin was quick to complain of headset failure and accused the Patriots of cheating. The NFL, to their credit, cleared up the accusations by pointing out that both teams had issues due to weather.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Week 2 vs. Buffalo Bills: The Patriots were eager to prove that week one’s victory was no fluke but heading into Buffalo looked to be a daunting task. Rex Ryan, former head coach of chief division rival the New York Jets, was leading the charge in Buffalo and after an impressive thwomping of the Indianapolis Colts in week 1, the Bills were ready to show they could put an end to the Patriots AFC dominance. The Bills came out red hot and scored a touchdown on their first drive. The Patriots looked to be in dire straits but Tom Brady led his team back with a vengeance throwing for an impressive 466 yards and three touchdowns. The Bills had a total of 14 penalties and despite a fourth quarter rally were just outplayed by a better, more disciplined team losing 40-32.

Week 3 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tom Brady became the fourth Quarterback in NFL history to throw 400 touchdowns when the Jacksonville Jaguars came to Gillette Stadium. There really is no way to paint this picture without indicating how dominant the Patriots were against the lowly Jaguars. Tom Brady and company put up a total of 51 points against a team that quite frankly was lucky to score the 17 points that they did.  As the old cliché goes, the Jacksonville Jaguars were playing checkers while the New England Patriots were playing chess.

Week 4- Bye

jerry-jones

Week 5 vs. Dallas Cowboys: With Tony Romo hurt for a good portion of the season and Dez Bryant out with an injury as well, it’s tough to label this victory as something that the New England Patriots can hang their hat on. Heading into Dallas, the Cowboys were ready to unleash newly acquired pass rusher and all around despicable human being, Greg Hardy. Known for his violent and masochistic ways, Greg Hardy was returning to the NFL for the Cowboys after being released by Carolina and serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Hardy made several unprofessional overtures in regards to Tom Brady’s wife Gisele in order to get into the Patriot signal caller’s head.  Sadly, one elite defenseman is not enough to stop the New England Patriots as the reigning, defending Super Bowl Champions crushed the Brandon Weeden led Cowboys and held them without a single touchdown in a 30-06 victory.

via bleacherreport.com
via bleacherreport.com

Week 6 vs. Indianapolis Colts: Heading into Lucas Oil stadium the New England Patriots preached that this game was just “the next game on the schedule”, for fans it was to be something much more. The Indianapolis Colts’ general manager Brian Grigson was the man who brought the entire circus known as Deflategate to the NFL and ultimately the Patriots door. Had it not been for the Indianapolis Colts and their attempts to desecrate all that New England had worked for in 2014, the narrative on the Patriots would simply be Champions. Fans had the Patriots running away with this battle with scores of 70 -10 but the football Gods had different plans. The Indianapolis Colts put up a hell of a fight during the first half cutting off the field and taking away Brady’s short throws, ultimately giving the Colts a 1 point lead heading into the 3rd quarter. The second half brought forth the Indianapolis Colts that have proven to be what they are made of this season.  After what was possibly the worst fake punt play in history, the Colts succumbed to the New England Patriots, 27-34.

Danny Amendola makes an acrobatic catch in 30-23 win over the Jets Photo David Silverman
Danny Amendola makes an acrobatic catch in 30-23 win over the Jets Photo David Silverman

Week 7 vs. The New York Jets: When the New York Jets came to Foxboro they came to play some football and show the Patriots that they were no longer the doormat of the AFC. Gone were the brash Super Bowl predictions from a loud mouthed former head coach, now led by reserved head coach Todd Bowles, the Jets had a 4-1 record and were looking to overtake the current AFC leaders. The rancid under belly to this game of course ties back to Darrelle Revis returning to the Jets after a Super Bowl winning stay in New England. Revis, who is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, can take an average defense and make them look fantastic by taking away a side of the field and freeing up more players for other assignments. The Jets were the number one rated defense about to take on the number one rated offense led by Tom Brady. The Jets played their hearts out and Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like a superstar for the first three quarters with 295 yards and two touchdowns. Ultimately, fortune shined upon the Patriots showing just how clutch Tom Brady is, as he led his team to victory in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns and left the Jets on the losing end with a final result of 23-30. It would later be revealed that the Jets had the NFL sweep their locker room for bugs and look into a trio of on field Patriot personal. Nothing came of either situation but it is rightly apparent that the Patriots are in their opponents heads.

10-29 Ninkovich hits Tannehill (Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)
10-29 Ninkovich hits Tannehill (Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)

Week 8 vs. The Miami Dolphins: After trouncing the Titans 38-10 and the Texans 44-26, the newly invigorated Miami Dolphins felt they were ready to take down the undefeated New England Patriots. When Joe Philbin was fired and Tight End Coach Dan Campbell took his place he simplified both the offense and defense to immediate success. With the two headed beast of Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh now getting more comfortable, surely they would be giving Tom Brady fits. In a game which can only be looked at as a comedy of errors from the Dolphins side, they showed little of that renewed tenacity.  The Patriots dominated the Dolphins in every aspect of play, winning by a score of 36-07. As for Suh and Wake?  Suh was practically a non factor where as unfortunately for Cameron Wake, despite looking quite impressive on that October evening,  his season will now be spent on injured reserve.

In the coming week New England will be taking on the Washington Redskins as they reach their true half way mark to the season. Washington hasn’t played well and from a spectator’s point of view this game looks like another slam dunk for the Patriots. If the Patriots do manage to defeat the Washington Redskins as expected, who will eventually present a challenge? Next week, the Patriots head to New York to face a rival which has ripped away two Super Bowls from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s mantle. Eli manning is not a great quarterback but for some reason he tends to have the Patriot’s number. Could the Giants be the team that takes down the undefeated Patriots?

After facing the Giants, it’s on to perennial adversary; the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos. As of this writing the Denver Broncos have the most intimidating defense in the NFL and on paper present the Patriots with their greatest challenge. Adding fuel to the fire is that the Broncos’ game will be held in Denver which is traditionally a tough place for any visiting team to get a win.  If the Patriots can get past Denver there does not appear to be too much resistance on the horizon with the exception of a trap game from the Eagles in week 13 or a possible upset in the Meadowlands when the face the Jets on their home turf.

The New England Patriots are currently undefeated at 7-0 and with the looming shadow and obvious circumstantial comparisons of 2007 hanging over their heads, its plausible that they could enter the playoffs at 16-0.  Tom Brady is playing the best football of his entire career, his offense is incredible and his defense is better than most will ever give them credit for. As the half way point of the season reaches to a close this Sunday I think it’s safe to say, the New England Patriots haven’t lost a step. In fact, the defending Super Bowl Champions keep getting better, while ridiculous accusations of cheating and treachery are losing any and all credibility.

New England Patriots: This Isn’t Missouri, Fans

History tells us that Missouri is the “Show Me” state. The original phrase is widely credited to Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver in 1899 when, in a speech he said, “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

Cartoon from gobobby.us
Cartoon from gobobby.us

So, “Show Me” New England

How many times do the New England Patriots have to prove themselves to their own fans? New England has now become the “Show Me” area.  Each week the “show me” statements are repeated by fans of the Super Bowls champs. Need a few examples? How about this for starters:

  • At the start of the 2015 season fans were in full “show me” mode when the Patriots lost some key players. In particular Shane Vereen, Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Add in the injury to last year’s surprise, Brandon LaFell, Tom Brady’s aging body and – drum roll – it was time for the Patriots to step up and show the doubters (don’t kid yourself, there were many) once again that they could compete with the upper tier in the NFL

On top of that, the Buffalo Bills were reported to have the best defense in the NFL, the NY Jets had a new Head Coach and a world of talent on defense (Mr. Revis had turned traitor and moved his island to where the money was) and Miami…my God, they had signed Greg Jennings (Pats fans wanted him in New England), the world’s greatest pass rusher Ndamukong Suh, CB Brice McCain and a host of 2nd tier players.

Was it possible that all three teams had pumped up their game while the Patriots, on paper, had deflated theirs? (I’m sorry, but the devil made me say that)

Ben Roethlisberger complains about Patriots goal line formation move drawing the Steeler offside
Ben Roethlisberger complains about Patriots goal line formation move drawing the Steelers offside

1. The first test was the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown to challenge a secondary that, at best, was suspect. With Brady freed from his four game suspension the question was, can he overcome his off season distraction? The Patriots, playing at Gillette Stadium, were a 7 point favorite going into the game, but everyone was concerned…c’mon team, time to “Show Me.” Final Score: Patriots 28 Steelers 21…and the game wasn’t that close.

2. …But wait, that win was nice, but now the Patriots had to travel to Buffalo with Rex Ryan churning the upstate New York fans into a frenzy (what’s new) because he had the best defense in the NFL and the team was just plain mean! A road game

Buffalo Bills free safety Aaron Williams (23) tackles New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) in the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Williams was injured on the play as Edelman scored. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
Julian Edelman scores to help beat the Bills (Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

against a rabid fan base chomping at the bit to chew up and spit out the team with the Elvis logo. Buffalo players had spittle drooling from the corner of their mouth as the two teams took the field. New England fans didn’t want to admit it…but they were worried. It was “Show Me” time again, as Brady’s offensive line was in a shambles and the Bills pass rush was unstoppable. Final Score: Patriots 40 Bills 32…and once again the score was deceptive as New England rolled to win #2.

3. After dismantling the Jaguars and Cowboys and going 4-0 it was time for the game fans had been waiting a year for.  The ol’ tattle-tale, whiny Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck returned after missing two games with an injured right shoulder, but everyone was predicting a blowout and Brady taking revenge on the team that caused his worst off-season in 16 years in the NFL. It wasn’t to be. At halftime the Pats trailed 21-20 and things weren’t going as expected.

In the second half New England pulled the game out…but not without some help from the Colt’s coaching staff calling the worst play in NFL history (yes, even worse than Pete Carroll’s Super Bowl disaster). Result: Patriots 34 Colts 27. Once again, fans showed some concern and the time had come for a true test.

Danny Amondola makes an acrobatic catch in win over the Jets (Photo David Silverman, Patriots.com)
Danny Amondola makes an acrobatic catch in win over the Jets (Photo David Silverman, Patriots.com)

4. The NY Jets, the new darlings of the NFL, were coming to Foxborough. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard this before, the NFL’s top ranked defense. A Jets win and the two teams would be sharing first place in the AFC East. Man, what could the Patriots do with a battered OL and just 18 players dressed on offense? Time for Superman, Tom Brady, to step up and “show me” he could carry the team to win #6. The Jets sacked Brady three times and otherwise made him uncomfortable in the pocket to take a 13-10 halftime lead.

The Patriots were passing on nearly every down and being questioned about their play calling as the second half began. Time for Mr. Brady to “show me” why he is the greatest QB in the history of the NFL…and he did. Against this supposedly great defense he completed 34 passes for 355 yards, threw for 2 TDs and ran for another while the defense stopped the feared Jets running game (Chris Ivory, who entered as the AFC’s leading rusher, was held to 41 yards on 17 carries) on the way a 30-23 win.

5. You would think the Jets win would calm the waters, but it wasn’t so. Suddenly the Miami Dolphins were playing up to expectations after firing their Head Coach, Joe (Tiger) Philben, and putting Tight End Coach Dan (Gung-ho) Campbell in charge. He was an emotional guy and the players loved the fact Campbell was giving them a free hand to play the way they wanted to. In his first two games as Head Coach the ‘Fins destroyed Tennessee and Houston (two NFL powers!), running up 82 points and the combination of Suh and Cameron Wake were suddenly sacking everything but the groceries. After wiping the field with Miami, 36-7, the Patriots ran their record to 7-0.

10-29 Nink sacks Tannehill (Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)
Ninkovich and Jones sack Tannehill (Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)

Show Me More

Common sense says, after going 7-0 with no real challenge, New England fans would be ready to relax a bit. No need to get worried about the future. Well, that’s just not the way we New Englanders react. We’re not happy unless we have something to worry about. After Denver slaughtered Green Bay Sunday night, holding Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards, and now trading for TE Vernon Davis, the “show me”ites are back.

Problem is, there are still 3 games to go before the Patriots travel to the mile high city (Nov. 29) for their Sunday Night battle. So, before that happens Washington, NY (Giants) and Buffalo have to “show me” they are up to the task of staying on the field with the current Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

This weeks worry is that the Skins is a trap game…so once again it’s time for the best team in the NFL to show everyone that there is no such thing as a trap when Bill Belichick is your coach.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

New England Patriots: The New Tom Brady

Let’s start with stating the obvious, Tom Brady is not from this planet. He is a real life “Superman.”

Tom Brady is Superman

After Sunday’s 30-23 win over the New York Jets even the most skeptical Brady hater has to be in awe of the unhuman things he is doing in his 16th year as an NFL Quarterback. Brady literally took the team on his back and refused to lose. We all knew he didn’t need any help in passing the ball, but:

  • 10 (or more) drops and he still throws for 355 yards
  • 2 TDs
  • 0 interceptions
  • 1 rushing TD
  • If that’s not enough he also leads the team in rushing for the 1st time in his career…at the age of 38

C’mon fans of the Steelers, Jets, Colts, Ravens (and on and on and on), admit it, you have to respect what this man has done. I know you may not be willing to admit anything publicly. Deep inside you still think he had to be cheating to do what he has, otherwise you’d have to admit your team actually lost to a “human” and you don’t want to do that. Among your fellow fans, when you belly up to the bar, you still mock him and talk about deflated footballs.

But when you take a moment and are honest with yourself you would love to have Tom Brady QB your team. You know it…I know it…and, don’t feel bad, your team feels the same way.

Is Tom Brady better now than he has ever been? 

Brady fires away in 30-23 win over the Jets (Photo: David Silverman Patriots.com)
Tom Brady fires away in 30-23 win over the Jets (Photo: David Silverman Patriots.com)

You can click on the above green link to find and compare Brady’s career statistics and decide for yourself. So, the question is, what more can he do? What is left to challenge the greatest QB in the history of the NFL (that will trigger some debate)? Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners provided the motivation he needed -or maybe he didn’t – to rejuvenate him for the 2015 season by questioning his honesty and integrity. His response has been to quietly embarrass them and their position. Hell, even the most avid Patriot fan has to admit he has surpassed any expectations we had for this season. Think about it:

  • 2,054 yards passing in 6 games
  • 16 TDs with just 1 interception
  • 2 rushing TDs after going the past two seasons with 0

With a mobility in the pocket that he has never shown before he looks like a “new” Tom Brady.  Don’t get me wrong, he has always been great, but this year he has moved into a new stratosphere. It’s not hyperbole, it is a fact and the eye test backs it up. Game-by-game he meets and exceeds expectations.

Brady brings out the best of everyone around him

Brady and Gronk celebrate TD in 30-23 win over the Jets (Photo: David Silverman Patriots.com)
Brady and Gronk celebrate TD in 30-23 win over the Jets (Photo: David Silverman Patriots.com)

Please don’t tell me he doesn’t have the weapons that other great QBs have. It doesn’t take anything away from what Mr. Brady has done this year to acknowledge the greatness of Rob Gronkowski (or Randy Moss in 2007). Julian Edelman and the now healthy Danny Amendola aren’t anything to laugh at, and Dion Lewis has emerged as a top tier running back/receiver.

Danny Amendola makes an acrobatic catch in 30-23 win over the Jets Photo David Silverman
Danny Amendola makes an acrobatic catch in 30-23 win over the Jets (Photo: David Silverman Patriots.com)

However, with that said, Brady makes everyone on the offense look better. The ensemble that makes up the offensive line attests to what he is capable of doing. If you can name the starting five linemen for last night’s match-up with the amazing pass rush of the rejuvenated Miami Dolphins without looking it up, congratulations.

Credit the quick release (fastest in the NFL) of Tom Brady with the fact we’re not in panic as each weeks latest super team lines up on the other side of the ball. Speaking of which, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing how all these teams are suddenly able to “challenge” the Patriots dominance in the NFL. Before they can challenge they have to show they can beat the best…and so far no one has done that.

Follow me on twitter @SnowdonBob