Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

While Gronkowski Shouldn’t get Suspended, He Also Shouldn’t Appeal

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been suspended for one game for his late hit on Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White in Sunday’s victory.

 

The controversial hit has been discussed over the past 24 hours and has been a big debate on whether Gronkowski should be suspended or not, personally I do not think that Gronkowski should be suspended I also don’t think that Gronkowski should appeal the decision. Following the game Gronkowski delivered an apology to White, saying that he was frustrated with the officiating, which was absolutely terrible, and said that he isn’t a dirty player and doesn’t try playing like a dirty player. Gronkowski has no previous history of being a cheap player or making dirty hits on the field, unlike someone like Vontaze Burfict who has a history of being a cheap and dirty player and has been suspended games before for his play. Gronkowski retaliated to both the referees and to White in a way that he shouldn’t have after White should have been called for defensive holding and pass interference on that play and for calls that Gronkowski wasn’t getting all day as well as a terrible pass interference call against Gronkowski earlier on in the game, Gronkowski shouldn’t have done what he had, no doubts about it but a one game suspension for a player with no history of being a cheap player seems a bit excessive.

newyorkupstate

I compare this situation to the AJ Green-Jalen Ramsey fight that happened several weeks ago; where after the play was dead Green had picked up Ramsey from behind in a choke hold and slammed him to the ground and proceeded to throw punches at Ramsey. Both Green and Ramsey were ejected for the incident, Green was later fined for the incident and Ramsey was not. While the situations are similar they are also different; but to me it seems like because Green was ejected from the game he was not suspended, Gronkowski was not ejected from the game so he is being suspended. Like Gronkowski, Green is a player who does not have a history of cheap plays and was given a large fine for his actions, like he should have been. That fact that the refs didn’t eject Gronkowski should be on them and not taken out on Gronkowski and force him to miss a separate game, the suspension makes it seem like it is a make-up call for something the refs missed.

 

With all this being said why I don’t think Gronkowski should be suspended for a game, I don’t think he should appeal the suspension either. The game that Gronkowski will miss is a Monday night game against Miami in Miami, the same team the Patriots beat 35-17 just one week ago and won with ease. While the Patriots offense is obviously better with Gronkowski in it, they should still be able to beat Miami without much problems without Gronkowski. Following Miami, the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers for a game which will likely determine who the number one seed in the AFC will be and who will get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The game in Pittsburgh is a far more valuable game for the Patriots and Gronkowski, especially since Pittsburgh is a team that Gronkowski has absolutely destroyed throughout his career. In five games against the Steelers Gronkowski has piled up 30 receptions for 496 yards and eight touchdowns, including two separate three touchdown games.

si.com

Gronkowski has three days to file the appeal of his suspension, and is Gronkowski does appeal it is unknown when the decision on his appeal would be made. If the appeal decision isn’t made before the weekend and pushed into the following week and it’s lost Gronkowski would then be forced to miss the game against Pittsburgh. Gronkowski could very well win his appeal or even hear news before this weeks game, but is it worth the risk? I don’t think it is and if I’m Gronkowski and the Patriots though I don’t think I should be suspended, I take it to make sure that once the matchup with Pittsburgh comes the team will be at their best with Gronkowski on the field.

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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.

New England Patriots: Looking Forward

One of the great things about being a fan of the New England Patriots is, when one season ends you always know that next season will be exciting, with  another legitimate chance for the Lombardi Trophy. It’s really a thrill to look forward to what will happen next and have confidence that it all will work out fine.

Just think about it. How many fans of other teams in the NFL can legitimately make that statement? The answer is – zero!

  • The current Super Bowl Champion Bronco’s? Who is the QB again?
  • The runner-up Carolina Panthers? Hell, their fans are thrilled to just make the play-offs. Although they are the favorites going into the year (the Patriots are #2), they have to show they can perform year in and year out.
  • The Green Bay Packers? Close, but no cigar. Last year the were vulnerable all season and are rapidly deteriorating.
  • How about the Pittsburgh Steelers? The fans and former players are still griping about how they were
    Steeler fans are stunned by NE distruction of the Patriots in the 2004 AFC Championship Game - photo sixteensundayscom
    Steeler fans leave the game stunned after Patriots 41-27 blow-out win in 2014 AFC Championship Game (Photo: sixteensundays.com)

    cheated out of a Super Bowl by….the Patriots…in the AFC Championship Game (No, not the Super Bowl)! That was 12 years ago, the Steelers lost 41-27 at home, and they are still crying about it. No looking forward there!

  • Seattle? With Pete Carroll making the final call 2 years ago the fans of the Seahawks were deflated (sorry, had to get that in). Carroll vs Belichick = a no brainer!

There are plenty of other teams that could be part of the conversation, Arizona, KC to name just a couple, but year-after-year, they haven’t proven good enough to carry the banner.

Another Year With The Two B’s

As we look ahead to the 2016 season we are, once again,

New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady celebr
Tom Brady celebrates with Bill Belichick (Photo:  JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

concerned that the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combination may not be available to start the season thanks to the continued obsession of the NFL and Commissioner Roger “Integrity of the game” Goodell, to punish Brady for a “crime” they haven’t proven ever occurred. I refuse to get into that again other than to say “so what.”

Belichick will be there to start things and Brady will, at some point early in the season, return. With a growing, young defense the team should be just fine and maybe Tom will be better off starting the season a little later (I know that’s heresy), so by the play-offs he won’t be so banged up.

Facts:

  • The offensive line will be better. Hell, it couldn’t be any worse. With the return of Dante Scarnecchia you know they’ll be better prepared. Rookies Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason will be in their second year and know their roll and the speed of the NFL better. Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder should be healthy. The addition of former 1st round pick Jonathan Cooper adds depth they lacked in 2015 when injuries destroyed any chance for consistency.
  • The two TE offense is back! Martellus Bennett is not Scott Chandler in any way, so please stop the comparisons. Provided he doesn’t tick off Belichick with his mouth, Bennett and Rob Gronkowski will ease the pressure on Brady (or Jimmy Garoppolo) and the red-zone offense with those two, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola (maybe), Nate Washington and Chris Hogan will be almost unstoppable.
  • Donta’ Hightower and Jamie Collins (both 26) are just coming into their prime years and are the key cogs in a defense that should be strong despite the loss of Chandler Jones.

2016 Schedule

HOME: BUF, MIA., NYJ, BAL, CIN, LA, SEA, HOU
AWAY: BUF, MIA., NYJ, CLE, PIT, ARI, SF, DEN

Although game dates have not yet been released, there is no reason to believe the Pats won’t have another run at the ring in 2016.. Along with in-conference games against teams that did not make the play-offs last year (J-E-T-S, Dolphins & Bills) they  play the clueless Browns, befuddled 49ers, sliding Ravens and homeless (???) Rams. That leaves Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Super Bowl Champion, but QB challenged, Denver as threats to a chance for ring #5 for Tom Brady, the oldest active non-kicker in the NFL.

So, no matter what, the best Head Coach/QB combo in the NFL and the New England Patriots are once again positioning the team for a run at the Lombardi Trophy and fans are having fun analyzing every move they make.

Follow me on twitter @SnowdonBob

 

 

 

 

New England Patriots: Manning-Brady, It Was Meant To Be

Patriot fans had mixed emotions as the hated Pittsburgh Steelers played the arch-enemy Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.  Who to root for? That was the issue. Pittsburgh wins and the Pats play one more game at Gillette. Denver wins and the historic Brady-Manning debate begins again.

Payton Manning vs Tom Brady (Photo: Forbes.com)
Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady once again (Photo: Forbes.com)

And The Winner Is…True Football Fans

With Denver’s late comeback win over the Steelers, it’s on to Sport Authority Field at Mile High. C’mon now, admit it. The thought of one more Manning – Brady battle is intriguing. This is it…the probable last chance for these two great QB’s playing in a crucial play-off game…just one step from the Super Bowl. Both are approaching the end of their football journey, one with a whimper (Manning) and the other with the roar of a lion (Brady).

  • Have the reports of Peyton’s demise been exaggerated
  • Can Brady, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s evil villain,  once again defeat America’s favorite pizza/insurance/ESPN etc, etc, etc spokesperson
  • Is the home field advantage enough to propel Denver, a flawed team, into the awaiting arms of Arizona or Carolina
  • Will the emotional return of Julian Edelman for a second game carry over and allow the weak offensive line of New England to actually keep Brady upright long enough to use his weapons in victory.
Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah (39) and defensive back Tyvon Branch (27) push Tom Brady (12) out of bounds short of the goal line (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah (39) and defensive back Tyvon Branch (27) push Tom Brady (12) out of bounds short of the goal line (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

More Questions Than Answers

Unlike the NFC contest between the clear-cut favorites, Arizona Cardinals & Carolina Panthers, this AFC duel is somewhat surprising. Most “experts” raved about the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers (who backed in when the J-E-T-S choked) as the “hot” picks as the play-offs got underway.

KC had won 11 straight when they travelled to Gillette and were pummeled by New England. Pittsburgh overcame adversity and headed to the Mile High City after a back-yard brawl in Cincinnati, to lead for most of the game before falling to the Manning led Broncos.

The Patriots and Broncos both stumbled into the bye-week with a sigh of relief.  Denver was debating who their QB would be, while New England was hoping their long list of critical injuries to key players would heal enough to field a representative play-off team.

Yet here they stand, still with serious questions, on the precipice of the AFC Championship Game.  Denver, a late Sunday victor, ready to prove they have a great defense that can carry them to Super Bowl 50 despite the health of their eventual Hall-Of-Fame QB…and New England, the team other team’s fans love to hate, trying to once again rise above the noise and win their 5th ring during the Brady-Belichick era.

Peyton Manning hands off to C.J. Anderson in Broncos win over the Steelers(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Peyton Manning hands off to C.J. Anderson in Broncos win over the Steelers(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

This Week In The Media

All week leading up to Sunday you will read about the history of these two teams and their great QB’s. There will be a plethora of articles filled with facts and opinions (probably write one myself) on why New England/Denver should/will win and go on to glory in the 2015/2016 Super Bowl. Meanwhile…..

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

…and enjoy the banter. On Sunday, January 24th at about 6:30 PM the AFC questions will be answered and fans will be either on the edge of their seat, or grumbling at the dog, while waiting to see who the opponent will be from the NFC.

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

 

 

New England Patriots: Is It Possible To Blow It?

With three games left in the regular season the New England Patriots are in place to have a clear path to Super Bowl 50 at Levis Stadium in San Francisco. If the season ended now the Pats would have a bye in the 1st round of the play-offs and play every game leading up to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, where they are almost invincible  (Philadelphia wasn’t aware of that).

Obviously (so why state it dummy) the games still need to be played, and there is always the unthinkable…the Patriots could lose all the advantages they have worked so hard to accomplish.  So, why is there a need for concern?

Is It Possible To Blow It?

Simple answer – yes!

More complex response – maybe. I know, that’s a cop-out, but hear me out. First of all, what would you consider “blowing it?”

  • Losing home-field advantage

Gillette Stadium (Photo: travelchannel.com
Gillette Stadium (Photo: travelchannel.com)

That would be pretty big.  The Patriots are more intimidating  when playing in Gillette Stadium. Sure, they lost to Philly a few weeks ago, but c’mon, you know that was the ultimate trap game. Everyone, probably including Bill Belichick (he’d never acknowledge it) felt that was a show-up and win game.  Hell, I went on the air for “Hump Day” with Murph and Robyn Lynne and, with my infinite knowledge of football, said I could play running back or receiver and they’d still beat the Eagles. We all know how that turned out.

So, one more loss and a season ending Denver sweep over the Steelers, Bengals and Chargers and home field advantage is history. It’ll be hard, but true Patriot fans will actually be rooting for (ugh) the Steelers this week-end.

Likelihood: Slim

  • Losing the bye-week

With all the injuries, having that 1st weekend off seems to be critical to allow a time for healing. This would happen only if the Patriots lost two of their last three. Cincinnati and Denver square off in week 14, so one of them is assured at least one more loss.

Likelihood: Slim

  • Missing the play-offs

Ho-Hum, another year, another AFC Division Title (Photo: fansided.com)
Ho-Hum, another year, another AFC Division Title (Photo: fansided.com)

Already checked off to-do list.

Likelihood: Impossible

  • Not getting to the Super Bowl

Payton Manning vs Tom Brady (Photo: Forbes.com)
Payton Manning vs Tom Brady (Photo: Forbes.com)

The only teams that are a real threat should be Denver (Could we see the last Manning – Brady showdown?) and a red-hot Pittsburgh. If the Pats have the home field advantage over both they should win if healthy. Edelman, Hightower & Gronkowski all playing at close to 100% makes this the team that started the season 12-0. That’s a big if this year, as it seems players are going down every week.

Likelihood: If games are at Gillette Stadium -Small.  If on the road -probably around 70%

  • Not winning the Super Bowl

Health and opponent play a key role in this answer. It’s a game of attrition and lots of good luck, so just getting there again is almost unheard of. It is always the team goal to end the season with a win and the Patriots have been the best team at accomplishing that.

Fans expect nothing less and consider the season a failure if New England doesn’t win another ring…and that’s too bad.  This team has fought adversity all season and has accomplished miracles with key players missing multiple games.

As this season got underway I predicted the Patriots would play Green Bay for all the chips and that still could happen. It’s looking more likely the Carolina Panthers will be the probable opponent, but it’s still a long way away.

Likelihood: Flip a coin

There’s no quarterback I’d rather have leading my team in a one game match-up than Tom Brady, but neither Aaron Rodgers nor that young guy from Carolina (Cam Newton if you don’t know) are slouches. With the defenses of New England and Carolina it could be a low scoring affair. With the offense of Green Bay and New England it could be last man to have the ball in a shootout.

Tom Brady Has Revenge On His Mind
Tom Brady Has Revenge On His Mind

No matter what, all you can do is hope for a good, competitive game with the best team coming out on top. My choice – Patriots get Brady his 5th ring and he accepts another Super Bowl MVP Trophy with a smirk from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell!

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.