Tag Archives: Wes Welker

Tale of Two Halves

Nothing like a 52-point beatdown to get those spirits up. (patriots.com)

It was the worst of times and then it was the best of times.

For the first half and beginning of the third quarter in Sunday’s game against Buffalo the Patriots looked as if the wheels were seriously falling off and that despite all the talent on the roster, a 1-3 start was in the future. Then someone flipped on a switch and suddenly that same Patriots team that could only manage seven points in the first half erupted and laughed it’s way to a 45-point half.

All in all the game ended with the Patriots getting back to .500 with a 52-28 thumping of the Bills that included a 31-point outburst in the fourth quarter.

The usual suspects were involved in the offensive onslaught. Tom Brady looked like the Tom Brady completing 22-of-36 passes for 340 yards and three scores. He made throws all over the field. The short dumps to Woodhead and Welker. The deep throws to the outside to Brandon Llloyd and the deep seams to Gronk. He even dazzled us with his glorious mobility and speed with a whopping FOUR yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

Speaking of Welker, I guess all that hoopla about him being phased out was just that. In his last three games he has 22 receptions for

Only three catches, for 50 yards and a touchdown for B-Llloyd. But that was really all that was needed. (patriots.com)

366 yards including the nine-catch, 129 effort he had against the Bills. Some people will mention that his production has only gone up with Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman out but  it’s looney tunes to think that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels decided to put more trust in a guy who was getting arrested for groping chicks last season than Wee Wes, the man for whom a 100-reception season is just another Thursday.

Production wise Gronk looked like his old self again as well. In fact we even got a GRONK SPIKE in this one. He caught a 28-yard pass early in the fourth for the score and with all his momentum carrying him into the end zone he just did one of the sprinting spikes. That is my second favorite type of spike he has done with the top one being when he shakes the ball a little, does some sort of stanky leg impression and then hurls it at the turf like the Hulk taking care of Loki at the end of The Avengers. In the first half though Gronk looked a little lost. He dropped a few passes including a sure touchdown (albeit he was hit during it) and fumbled. He also caught five of 11 total targets. Still it was nice to see him be a tight end and not just a very expensive decoy.

But where the offense continues to be surprising is in the running game. Really this game was won with a balanced offensive attack. GASP. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden seemingly ran wherever and whenever theywanted all day on that expensive Bills defense. What’s that Mario Williams? Oh this undrafted free agent from Ole Miss is just going to light it up for 137 yards and a touchdown with a stunning 8.7 yards-per-carry average.  Meanwhile Ridley will punch it in twice and pick up 106 yards himself.  The production of these two has me forgetting all about the LawFirm (who by the way is averaging 3.5 yards per carry in Cincy).

Defensively fans need to get used to this team giving up too many yards and third down conversions. It just seems like the way Belichick has this team playing, where it doesn’t allow anything deep and then tightens up in the red zone is how its going to be. Getting lit up for 438 total yards (350 passing) against Ryan Fitzpatrick who couldn’t throw a 20-yard out pattern if he was playing Madden, is concerning but it seems to be more scheme than ineffectiveness.

Where the team has excelled is against the run where the Patriots currently rank eighth in the NFL. Against Buffalo the team allowed the Buffalo backs to pick up only 3.6 yards per carry while giving up only three runs of 10 or more yards and four first downs on the ground. Also a major strength has been the defense’s ability to wait for a team to make a mistake and pounce. Like when Vince Wilfork got a rare clear shot at a ball carrier when the Bills ran a screen pass. Usually Big Vince his still scrapping with an offensive linemen with his right arms while dragging a running back or whoever has the ball down with the left. On that play though he had a wide open shot and absolutely blew Donald Jones Up. Brandon Spikes also needs to get alot of credit in this game as he forced two fumbles while Devin McCourty had a 2010-type game with a pair of interceptions.

Here comes the BOOM! (patriots.com)

In rookie watch, Chandler Jones continues to be a beast. The rook had five tackles including two for a loss and a sack. Dont’a Hightower had a less impactful game (two tackles) than were used to seeing but with how well Spikes played it wasn’t as big a deal.

So the Patriots are now 2-2 and tied for the top spot in the East (with the circus that is the New York Jets and the same Bills team they just ripped to shreds). Hopefully this begins a period of best of times that lasts until early February. The next step for that involves some guy named Peyton and the Denver Broncos.

-Phil

Relieved to see the Patriots look so dominant, even it was for just one half? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Officially Tough Loss

If Twitter has taught me anything it is that everyone really hates the replacement officials. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

So not sure if you had heard but apparently the NFL is using replacement officials. When did this happen?

Alright, all jokes aside, clearly this little experiment is not working. The Baltimore/New England game was called atrociously (on both sides) and the Golden Tate game winning touchdown reception that wasn’t really a reception it would be irresponsible not to mention and or discuss this issue. But really there isn’t much to discuss. The owners (who are somehow not taking much of the brunt of the hate), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell  and the real referees need to get in a room and figure this out. Honestly the rest of the season cannot have games like this past weekend.

I’d go on but really at this point between Twitter, SportsCenter and the personal blogs of millions I’d just be throwing a bucket of water into the Atlantic Ocean. Fix this referee issue. That is all.

Now to the actual reason fans care about the NFL, you know the football. On second thought maybe I should keep discussing the referee debacle since I really don’t feel like writing about yet another crushing New England Patriots defeat.

Before I get into that I would like to say that I wish Torrey Smith and his family the very best in these terrible times. As much as I hated to watch the Patriots lose it was nice to see Smith have such a huge game when he clearly needed it.

Anyway back to the less important stuff. I thought about just writing “The Patriots lost. The End” for this post but that was on Sunday. Now that I’ve been able to stew I can be more objective. (Okay not really but I can pretend).

Another week of disappointment (patriots.com)

Let’s spin it positively. New England is 1-2 but if you look at its defeats its not as devastating a record as it appears. The Patriots lost two games by a combined score of three points against two opponents that have a combined record of 5-1.

But there is also a negative angle to be taken. The Patriots lost two winnable games by not closing in a trend that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Yet again the Patriots built a lead early and controlled the game for the first three quarters or so before suddenly folding in the fourth quarter. It happened against Baltimore (up nine halfway through the fourth), against Arizona to an extent (out gained the Cardinals 387-245 but lost because of a blocked punt that set up a two-yard touchdown drive). It goes further back to last season in the Super Bowl (team needed just one first down but Wes Welker dropped that pass) and you could even argue that it happened against Baltimore in the AFC Championship game because if Lee Evans makes that catch or that field goal goes in things could have gone entirely differently.

I’m not sure which of these outlooks is more of an accurate assessment but my feelings are that the second option is more indicative of what this team is right now.

After playing extremely well in the first two games and the first few drives of the matchup with Baltimore suddenly the defense couldn’t stop the Ravens at all. In fact on the first three drives of the game the Patriots forced two punts and an interception. From there Baltimore scored on five of their last seven possessions. Now part of the blame can go to the officials as time and time again Baltimore seemed to get bailed out on mysterious holding penalties but its not the only issue. The secondary just didn’t do a good job in coverage. Devin McCourty dropped an interception or two and the defense just didn’t get off the field enough. Watching this defense, especially in tight games, is painful because you just never feel like they’ll get a stop when they need to.

One positive was the stop the unit got on a fourth and one play. As I watched that I remarked that I didn’t think the Patriots had stuffed a run play on fourth and short since John Hannah was still on the team. In fact the run defense was pretty solid although Ray Rice did gallop for 101 yards.

Then there’s the offense which in these tough losses always seems to be just one first down from sealing the game only to fail to convert. Despite getting bailed out themselves on some dubious penalty calls (although the reversed interception in my mind was legit) the Patriots drive to kill the clock featured just six yards of offense actually gained without help from the zebras and had an alarming number of poor play calls. It needs to be mentioned that Josh McDaniels still seems to be readjusting to being the offensive coordinator again. I mean that double reverse to Edeleman was just a dumb play. You don’t need to run trick plays like you’re playing Boise State in the effing Fiesta Bowl.

The offense also failed in the fourth quarter when instead of putting the final nail in the coffin after driving deep into Baltimore territory with a touchdown, it settled for a 20-yard field goal. Seven of the team’s last 11 scoring drives have ended in field goals. That just can’t happen when you have the talent on offense the Patriots have.

Those struggles all come down to one thing; closing. The Patriots have to figure out how to better close out drives on offense and defense and even more importantly how to close out games if they want to rise from this 1-2 rut.

Some quick hits from the game:

Has anyone seen that guy on the left recently? (Matt Stone/bostonherald.com)

-Brandon Llloyd might be able to catch anything and clearly Brady feels that way. He has somehow become Brady’s favorite receiver even though Wes Welker had a vintange performance with eight catches for 142 yards. Time and time again Lloyd made catches that just didn’t seem possible.

-Has Gronkowski become just the most expensive decoy in the NFL? Three targets, two receptions, 21 yards. I don’t know if it’s the play calling or that Gronk just isn’t open but he just doesn’t seem like that important a piece in the offense right now. Could losing Hernandez being an even bigger loss than once thought?

-Stevan Ridley has certainly begun a slow descent back to earth. His carries and yards have all gone down each week with the 13 carries and 37 yards against Baltimore nowhere near the Barry Sanders-esque performance he had in week one. Granted Tennessee’s run defense is horrible. So horrible that even the Lions managed to rush for 100 yards against it.

-Heaping praise on the Patriots front seven, especially rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, seems to have jinxed the unit. The Patriots issues in stopping the pass, especially late in games, has a lot to do with the team not creating pressure. Against Baltimore on Sunday the Patriots had zero sacks and just one tackle for loss. Anybody is going to toss up 380 yards if they have all day to throw the ball.

The Patriots are 1-2 after last weekends loss. The first time since 2003 that they have been below .500. Here’s hoping this weekend everything (referees included) gets back to normal.

-Phil

Should the Patriots feel okay about the 1-2 start? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Seeing (Cardinal) Red

Could not better illustrate a picture being worth a thousand words. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Is it ever possible for the Patriots to lose a game that doesn’t leave me feeling the need to kick through my TV screen and toss it into oncoming traffic while my body deals with an elevated blood pressure than rivals the Hulk?

Sunday tells me  not. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the Patriots to lose. At all. Ever. But when they do does it always have to be so soul crushing? I realize this was only week two of the regular season but in this game I went from optimism (first few minutes), to concern (second and early third), to begrudging acceptance of a loss (Down 20-9 in fourth quarter), to maybe there’s a chance (Gronk’s TD with a little over two minutes left), to HOLY S*** THEY FUMBLED IT! (pretty self explanatory), to HELL YEAH WOODHEAD, followed quickly by several expletives about replacement officials (When Gronk was called for holding on what would have been the game winning touchdown), to calming down and realizing a field goal wins in (next couple plays) until we finally arrived at soul-crushed when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yarder effectively ending the game.

At the end of it all the Patriots lost their first home opener at Gillette and fell to 1-1.

But that wasn’t the only horrendously terrible thing to happen in the game. Early in the first quarter the second member of the Patriots’ unbelievable tight end tandem, Aaron Hernandez, suffered an ankle injury and was taken out of the game. Now he is going to miss ‘a few weeks’. And there is no way we will know how long that is until he is on the field in whatever week he returns. Seriously, the Patriots should be giving the White House and CIA lessons on how to protect confidential information with how open they are about personnel and injury updates.

So all in all Sunday was a pretty terrible day for Bill Belichick and Company that left Patriots fans with more concerns than the previous week.

It’s not as awesome when wide left happens to your team (patriots.com)

Primary among those is on offense. With the return of Josh McDaniels to offensive coordinator (the same guy that coordinated the record crushing 2007 squad) to an already Heisenberg-blue-crystal level potency and the addition of Brandon Llloyd going into this season it seemed like the Patriots were set to have one of the best passing offenses ever or at least in the NFL this season.

So far the results have been less than spectacular. The Patriots are ranked eighth in the NFL so far this season in passing yards and on Sunday yet again looked out of sync. Tom Brady just doesn’t look as sharp as we’re used to seeing. He’s missing passes he usually hits and although he threw for 316 yards, in the first half he didn’t look like he would get to 200. Brady also seems to be trying too hard to spread the ball around, especially to Llloyd who he consistently threw to even when No. 85 wasn’t exactly open.

Wes Welker finally got into the game after not starting once Hernandez went down which is also a concern. I am not one to believe it has anything to do with his contract situation but is it possible that Wes has lost a step? That the squad liked what they saw from Julian Edelman more in the preseason? I am not sure but I am honestly expecting a 12-catch 140-yard effort from Wes in one of the next few weeks causing us all to do a complete 180. Until that happens though I’d be lying if his lack of playing time wasn’t concerning.

Then there is the Patriots suddenly ardent reliance on the run. The game against Arizona was one of the more conservatively called games by the offense I’ve seen in a long time. Stevan Ridley erupted in week one and suddenly Belichick’s handing him the keys to the offense? Quite often it seemed like the Patriots would get a good drive going and then just stall on third down because they would run a draw out of the shotgun on third and eight. That kind of play calling was a major contributor to why the Patriots lost despite out gaining Arizona (387-245) and picking up more first down (25-16) as the team went just 1-for-3 in the red zone.

I just don’t understand it. As the team’s one touchdown drive showed this team can be positively unstoppable on offense when it wants to be. Even though he hasn’t looked as stellar until proven otherwise Tom Brady is one of, if not the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But the Patriots don’t even have to worry about that because he is unquestionably the best player on the Patriots.  Why then is he not allowed to chuck the ball around the field like he did on that last drive while using the run as a compliment? Now some people might be confused because Brady threw the ball 46 times in the game while the Patriots ran it 28 times. However 20 of those pass attempts came in the fourth quarter which just happened to be the only quarter the Patriots offense scored a touchdown.

Chandler Jones is the Truth…wait someone already has that nickname. (patriots.com)

It makes no sense. The 90s Bulls weren’t pounding the ball in the low post to Luc Longley and waiting until the fourth quarter to let MJ  start shooting jump shots and dunking on fools. To me a simple way to win is to give the ball to your best player.

The head-scratching offense took away what should have been another week of praising the retooled defense. Hernandez’s injury, Welker’s playing time and Brady’s slow start have all been much more prominent than a Patriots defense that is currently ranked second in the NFL in total defense. Granted the Patriots have played the Titans and Cardinals (who despite being 2-0 I still think aren’t very good) but that is still a marked improvement from last season. Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower have been as good as advertised and Jerod Mayo continues to just pile up tackles while the return of Brandon Spikes has been a welcome sight.  The secondary is still a bit suspect but Patrick Chung and surprisingly Tavon Wilson have played well at safety and it needs to be reiterated that the Patriots gave up 20 points to the Cardinals with one touchdown drive coming from two yards out and it still took the Cardinals three plays to get in.

Normally I don’t mention special teams but that was really what lost the game but also what kept the Patriots within striking distance. Gostkowski’s missed field goal hurts but he nailed 4-of-4 before that including a 53-yarder. Should he have been able to knock in that last one? Yes but without him the Patriots aren’t close in that game. The blocked punt though was inexcusable. It led to a the touchdown that was the difference in the game. That blocked punt doesn’t happen and the Patriots win this game, in ugly fashion, but still win it.

So while this loss hurt and certainly didn’t make New England fans feel great some perspective helps. This loss was an ugly one where the Patriots played pretty terribly, at least offensively, and a big part of that might have been the loss of Hernandez messing up the original game plan. Even with all the errors and bad play the Patriots still probably should have won this game. Losing sucks but remember that you lose four times in a season you still end up having a great year. This to me just seems like one of those four.

-Phil

What’s your level of concern for the Patriots? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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Who Are You and What Did You Do With The New England Patriots?

Ridley’s believe or not, where the Patriots rely on the running game.

Defense and pounding the ball on the ground? What’s that? Do football teams actually do that?

I can imagine that’s what most Patriots fans were thinking on Sunday when the Pats put a 34-13 beatdown on the Tennessee Titans. Was that ever in doubt. I still can’t believe how low that line (-6) was for that game. After week one I’m sure Vegas will be back to putting the Pats up as -17.5 points favorites all season.

So is this new fangled running game part of football? I guess so and for Patriots fans, all kidding aside, it is a welcome sight. The gaudy passing numbers and huge offensive point totals are awesome but the team has been missing a real running threat since that one good season from Corey Dillon. With the LawFirm gone I firmly believed that the Patriots would just ignore the run entirely and throw the ball 98 times a game.

Enter Stevan Ridley who might have had the best day on the ground of any player in the league on Sunday. At least that’s what the fantasy owner that I played this week seemed to think. Ridley had 125 yards on 21 carries and also punched the ball into the end zone once. Now it’s tough to say how much this success will continue after one week against a lousy Tennessee team but getting more production from the ground game would certainly make the Patriots a better team overall.

While Ridley was a nice sign the best sign of the day was the defense. Specifically the rookies. I knew Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones were going to be good but hot damn I didn’t think I’d be seeing it week one. Jones absolutely abused whatever schlub was

My excitement for the draft pick of Dont’a Hightower just keeps getting higher.

playing on the outside for Tennessee and had a sack and a forced fumble.( He would have had two sacks if it weren’t for a bogus offsides penalty). Meanwhile Hightower recovered that fumble and brought it back to the house and was just all over the field putting his hat on the ball carrier. I’m not saying that one of them already has the Defensive Rookie of the Year locked up but they have to be No. 1 and No. 2 in the early season rankings right?

Plus Tevin Wilson, the safety drafted out of Illinois 17 rounds to high, had an interception in the game. I’d say this past draft was one of the best in Belichick’s history. Maybe the best since taking a scrawny backup quarterback out of Michigan.

It was also great to see the secondary look healthy, albeit not particularly outstanding. Getting sliced up for 264 yards by Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck isn’t exactly dominant. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung were both back. Chung helped on one of the more violent (still legal) hits in the game that may or may not have left six members of the Titans dead. McCourty had seven tackles and looked pretty good.

And now almost 500 words into this post  it’s time to discuss what is supposed to be the team’s strength; passing the ball.  The offense didn’t really need to put up inhuman numbers this week especially with Ridley running well so Tom Brady’s line (23-for-31, 236 yards, 2 TDs) wasn’t as eye-popping as some might have hoped. (You know like fantasy owners that may have taken him No. 2 overall only to have Matt Ryan outscore him in week one. Guys like that might be a little upset. But I’m not one of those guys. Okay I am that guy.) Even though the numbers look solid Brady didn’t look super sharp for the entirety of the game with a few under throws that were head-scratching. Still he’s Tom Brady so there’s no need to worry, at least not yet.

With Brady having a pretty average day the multitude of weapons he was throwing to had to contend with each other to have a good day. As you might have noticed no receiver was in the Like a Boss discussion and really that was because there wasn’t enough to go around with Ridley running so well. Rob Gronkowski had the best day I suppose (except for the whole messed up spike thing. The next time he gets in the end zone the richter scale might need to be adjusted) with six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Hernandez (six receptions, 59 yards, TD) and Brandon Llloyd (5 receptions, 69 yards) also had solid games. But those guys are all getting paid.

The guy that still wants a long-term deal, Wes Welker, did not have much of a day with only three receptions for 14 yards. That’s normally the opening drive for Wes. Everyone around the Pats, including Welker, are saying it was just how the gameplan went and not anything else but maybe there is more to this contract issue than we think.

With all this said we as sports fans need to remember this is just week one. The positives we saw can’t be blown out of proportion (except Jones and Hightower those guys are legit) and the new-look offense will certainly resemble last years much more often than this reiteration. Overall it’s just nice to get the first win and do so in convincing fashion.

-Phil

How did the Pats look in week one? Is there a change of philosophy occurring in New England? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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P8triot Questions

The class of the AFC (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

I’ve been saying it all summer as I watched the Red Sox play one of the most embarrassing and cringe inducing seasons in recent memory.

“At least I have the Patriots to look forward to.”

Well this weekend the hope of that  distant future begins and New England sports fans can finally begin to sooth their wounds with a little Foxborough football on Sundays.  See unlike the toxic Red Sox team that I haven’t even watched play an inning in about two months, the Patriots don’t have all that egomania and ridiculousness (like sending a text to management on someone else’s phone like a 13-year old girl). Instead the Patriots montra has always been “Do your job”. Zero locker room incidents just straight wins (homie). Last season with Ochocinco, or whatever the hell he calls him self now,  Chad had no incidents and then he can’t even last through training camp without one in Miami. I don’t know how Belichick does it but he gets his guys to buy in.

So let’s get to the eight (get the headline now?) most pressing or intriguing questions facing the squad.

1. What the hell is going on with the offensive line?

Can’t say I’m one to watch a ton of preseason football. I think I tuned in to about seven minutes total, and four of that was watching the awkward and staged cutting of Ochocinco in Hard Knocks if that counts. Still all I’ve been hearing about the line is that it still has to ‘gel’. Excuse me? The season starts on Sunday isn’t gelling supposed to be going on in training camp when you’re bunking with the guy next to you watching Sportscenter repeats and complaining about the beds that wouldn’t fit a dinosaur?

The Patriots still have Logan Mankins coming back but are trying to fill spots left by Matt Light and Dan Koppen. Brian Waters still hasn’t reported and now his number has been given to someone else. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Nate Solder and Sebastian Wollmer in the past but those two need to really show up this season. You know because if Brady goes down then we can only go 11-5 with a backup quarterback and just barely miss the playoffs. In other words have a failure of a season.

2. Will the defense really be better?

The PAtriots made it clear in the draft that improving the defense is the teams top priority and why shouldn’t it be? You mean a team that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in total defense and was 31st in pass defense (293.9 ypg) might need some help? Did you know that the 2011 defense gave up more yards than the vaunted offense gained? That the unit got sliced up by such future Hall of Famers as Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick? Yet still this defense was good enough to get within a breath of a Super Bowl title. Now the squad has added Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower and will be getting some guys like Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty back to full strength. The defense will (and needs to be) better and not just because when you’re at the bottom all you can do is go up. This unit has the look to be at worst a Top-15 defense.

Dont’a Hightower played for Nick Saban, aka college football’s Bill Belichick last, season

3. Which defensive rookie will have the better season?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not going to be Alfonzo Dennard or Jake Bequette. This question is more easily translated to is Chandler Jones going to turn into JPP 2.0 and rack up 17 sacks in the first four weeks or is Dont’a Hightower going to team up with Spikes and Jerod Mayo to form the best three-man line backing crew in the NFL? I really, really, really like both of these guys.  I think Jones is the one more likely to have the breakout season. Hightower is going to be competing with some established talent whereas Jones is really going to be the No. 1 guy at defensive end. The Patriots lost top pass rusher Mark Anderson in the offseason and need that hole desperately filled.  My predicted lines for the two guys are 34 tackles, nine sacks for Jones and 88 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 INTs for Hightower.

4. Will Wes Welker still be in New England next season?

Rob Gronkowski got paid. Aaron Hernandez got paid. Welker did not get paid. Well alright he signed a $9.5 million franchise tender but that’s a one-year deal not a long-term one he wanted. The man has only pulled in about 781 receptions a season every year (in reality he has led the league in receptions three times with New England, twice pulling in more than 120) and is definitely Brady’s favorite target. But still the Patriots don’t feel like Welker is worth signing long term and I kind of agree with them. Don’t get me wrong I love Welker. Top five Patriot of my lifetime definitely.  His jersey is my game day jersey that I wear every Sunday, so yeah I like the guy.

But I get it. Welker doesn’t do anything that you can’t get from somebody else. He hustles a ton and runs good routes but he doesn’t have size and freakish athletic ability that only comes along once every few years (i.e. Calvin Johnson). Could Julian Edelman or Jeremy Ebert eventually take over his role? Probably. Also if Welker does leave will he be exposed as just a product of a system that just worked perfectly for him. What offense, and what quarterback, really would have been more perfect for Welker over the last few seasons. The answer is none. So even if the Patriots don’t bring him back I don’t really see it coming back to haunt them.

That being said the man has given so much to this team and if the money is there why not pay him? Also got to love this exchange.

5. Is there going to be any run game?

Shane Vereen. Danny Woodhead. Stevan Ridley. Brandon Bolden. Those are the Patriots stable of running backs this season. Guess who has the most rushing yards and rushing attempts on the team? Tom Brady. While Brady is certainly one of the most mobile quarterbacks around that’s not a very awesome running game. With the LawFirm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis the Patriots lost more than just one of the ebst nicknames in sports. They lost a dependable back that never fumbled and punched it in the endzone from a yard out better than anybody. With the passing game as awesome as it is the Patriots haven’t needed a ton from the running game but I’m not sure this group can give us anything. When I play as the Patriots on Madden all I run is shotgun formations and I maybe run it three times a game so my stats at the end of the year are something like 6,981 pass yards, 154 rushing yards. Somehow I think that might be around what the Patriots have this season. My guess is that Ridley and Woodhead are the biggest contributing backs.

6. Will this offense be better than the 2011 version?

Look a number 85 that will actually be an important part of the offense!

With no run game  this question may seem ludicrous. But is it really? The Patriots 2011 squad out gained the amazing 2007 unit and that was without any real semblance of a deep threat. Gronk was the best option they had there but he wasn’t running fly patterns like Moss was in in 07. Enter Brandon Lloyd. Last season Lloyd caught 70 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns. In 2010 he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,448 while bringing in 11 scores. He did that all that with Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn and Sam Bradford throwing to him. Essentially the guy was an All-Pro receiver despite the lack of talent around him. Now he has the best quarterback in the league (yeah, yeah I can hear your outrage Green Bay fans) throwing to him while he’s surrounded by a ton of other targets that can’t just be forgotten like the receivers he’s played along side in the pass. Oh and remember that season when he led the league in receiving? Guess who is head coach was that year? Josh McDaniels. You know the Patriots current offensive coordinator. What I’m trying to get at is that Lloyd is going to have a monster year.

The only issue the offense may face is trying to find enough receptions for everybody. Gronk, Hernandez, Welker and Llloyd are all 80-plus reception guys and although the Patriots will certainly throw and throw and throw some more, there may be a discrepancy somewhere.

To actually answer the question posed above I think yes. Below are my predictions of the four receivers and Brady’s stat line.

Tom Brady 441-643, 5344 yards, 42 TDs, 11 INTs

Rob Gronkowski 83 receptions, 1219 yards, 11 TDs

Aaron Hernandez 61 receptions, 812 yards, 7 TDs

Wes Welker 90 receptions 1333 yards, 6 TDs

Brandon Llloyd 74 receptions, 1198 yards, 8 TDs

7. How big is the Patriots Super Bowl window?

As long as Brady is still under center is the real answer to this question. As soon as Tom decides he needs to spend more time with the family and just being a boss in other aspects of life the Patriots will come back down to earth. Last season the Patriots almost got another Super Bowl ring, something that has been missing since 2004 and that I (along with every other New England fan) really want to see Brady get. Although I have written extensively that Paul Pierce is my favorite Boston athlete ever, Brady is a very close second. If he gets a fourth ring he will be one of three QBs all-time along with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana to have accomplish the feat.

So how many more years does Brady have left. He’s 35 this season and although he’s only had one serious injury that doesn’t mean he

I envision a whole lot of Gronk spikes this season.

can play another five years. I think this team has to be in win now mode. If it doesn’t happen in the next two seasons I’m not so sure it will.

8. How will the Patriots ultimately fare this season?

It’s really not even a question whether or not Belichick and the boys will win the AFC East. That is a foregone conclusion as this point. The Patriots also play one of the easiest schedules I’ve seen for a defending conference winner.  There are maybe two or three games I’m slightly concerned about. At Baltimore, vs Houston and either against Denver or the 49ers. Other than that this schedule just looks like a list of wins for New England. So as far as the regular season goes I see the Patriots either repeating at 13-3 or possibly putting up a 14-2 or 15-1 type season. I’ll say 13-3 before my hubris reaches exhaustible levels. (What it already did?)

How this team will be defined is how it does in the playoffs and I’m supposed to be afraid of the ancient defense of Baltimore (minus T Suggs), the exact same team in Pittsburgh, a Texans team that lost Mario Williams and has a QB with the hairline of a 56-year old or the Broncos and Peyton Manning who has exactly one playoff win against the Patriots and that was before this injury thing. Also everyone keeps talking about all the weapons Manning has. Uh when did Eric Decker and Demarvius Thomas  become ‘weapons’? Plus if the Patriots take care of business in the regular season they will be the No. 1 seed with home field throughout.  ‘Nuff said for the second straight season I’m going to pick the Patriots to take the AFC Conference.

-Phil

How would you answer these questions? Are the Patriots the favorites in the AFC? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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NFL Draft Grades: New England Patriots

Getting in good with the boss-man early. Well played Mr.Jones and Mr. Hightower. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Before we start how about a quick aside? The NFL Draft is an overhyped TV event. The first round is three hours long when you basically already know what’s going to happen or if something different occurs you will be immediately notified by your smartphone or laptop. Why do people like watching it? For the awkward hugs with Goodell and the players. To see the insane suits guys where. To bask in the glow of Mel Kiper’s peak of the year?

Anyway, going into this years NFL Draft I wanted two things.  For the Patriots to stop loading up on late round picks to get value by trading away first round selections. Second for the team to stop worrying about upgrading the offense, it doesn’t need it it’s the defense that needs to improve.

Tom Brady isn’t going to play until he’s 40 whether he’d like to or not and this team has to be in a do whatever it takes to win now mode. Part of that is drafting players who can come in and immediately be contributors not guys who will develop into stars.

Well voila the Patriots did exactly what I wanted and put together the most aggressive draft I’ve seen Bill Belichick put out. In the first round the Patriots traded up not once but twice to lock in two defensive players and then continued to go defense all the way until the teams final pick. No Aaron Hernandez’ this year. No Stevan Ridley’s, even though LaMichael James and Dwayne Allen both stayed on the board for quite some time.

Yes the Patriots followed my two basic ideas, albeit without any real input from me.  (I know I can’t believe they don’t ask me for help either.) Now let’s see if they got the right guys, based on my opinions of them before they even play an NFL snap. I know super fair.

First Round- Pick No. 21- Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

Jones was the first guy the Patriots traded up to take and to be honest when I saw the name I drew a blank. Hadn’t heard of him and had no clue why the Patriots were trading up to get him. I still think they probably didn’t need to do that and I know now why I hadn’t heard of him. He played for Syracuse. The Orange may be on the map when it comes to college basketball but it’s been a long time since McNabb was under center and the Carrier Dome had a good football team to watch.

Still Jones has great size (6-5, 266 pounds) and 35.5 inch arms for the defensive end position where the Patriots haven’t had a real solid player since Richard Seymour. Getting pressure on the quarterback is something the Patriots have struggled with in recent years and getting a guy like Jones coming off the edge would be a step in the right direction. Plus his brother is Jon “Bones” Jones the UFC fighter who said of his brother “His swag can’t be touched.” Well I’m sold.

Grade: B+

First Round- Pick No. 25- Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

This was the trade up that made my night in the first round. I watched a decent amount of Alabama football over the last two years, mainly because they were on TV all the time and also because me and my room mates adopted them as our team after purchasing a lamp that had the Alabama logo on it in a garage sale.

In watching ‘Bama I was always really impressed with Hightower. He moves quickly, hits like a ton of bricks and is versatile enough to play just about every spot in the linebacking core, regardless or whether or not the Patriots go 4-3 or return to the 3-4 next season. Another exciting aspect about Hightower is that he is definitely a guy that will come in and make an immediate impact. He played in the NFL’s minor leagues (aka the SEC) and will probably be starting come Game One.

Grade. A++++++ Roll Tide.

Second Round- Pick No. 48- Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois

Uhh okay. After a fantastic first round came this pick. Now I want Tavon to come in and be great but this seems like on of those Belichick moves where he is so busying trying to outsmart everybody else that he over thinks himself. Perhaps Tavon will be a great safety but he didn’t seem like he was in danger of being taken this high in the draft with so many other talented players left on the board.

Now that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to like about him. He like Hightower is versatile as hell and can play safety or corner which will be nice with the Patriots seemingly always weak in that position. See Julian Edelman getting time at cornerback last year.

Grade C-. Just didn’t like how high he was taken.

Third Round- Pick No. 90- Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas

Another SEC player and a pass rusher is a nice sight. Hopefully there will be no rubbing off from Bobby Petrino on this kid. Bequette had a great combine by putting up 6.90 in the three-cone drill and a 4.07 shuttle which is better than many running backs. So at 6-4, 275 pounds he will certainly be a quick defender. Plus he can also slide in at OLB and has been described as hard working, high football IQ and all that stuff which essentially means he won’t rely solely on being more athletic than everyone.

Grade B.

Round Six- Pick No. 197- Nate Ebner, SS, Ohio State

Coming straight out of THE Ohio State University is this former rugby star who hadn’t really been anticipated as a draft pick. Although he is listed as a strong safety he probably has a better chance making it in special teams. He is obviously tough (rugby is no joke) and should be motivated coming into camp.

Grade C+. When your ceiling is solid special teams guy it’s tough to get too high a grade even in the later rounds.

Round Seven- Pick No. 224- Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Everything I’ve heard about this kid is that he has second round talent but dropped due to some legal issues. He was arrested the weekend before the draft after all, not exactly showing great decision making but with his talent Dennard might end up being a big steal.  He was cutting his chops in the Big-12 and then Big 10 meaning he’s faced some big time receivers (Justin Blackmon for example) and he can play in the slot.

Grade B+ Great value pick but off-field issues can’t just be thrown aside.

Round Seven- Pick No. 235- Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

And it is with Ebert that the Patriots draft of defense ends. To be honest this is my favorite pick other than Hightower. Ebert isn’t a flashy reciever, he’s small and quick and a reliable pass catcher who holds a bunch of receiving records at a small school in a power conference., Remind you of anyone? To me Ebert can come in and work on being the same type of receiver as Wes Welker. (By the way the fact that the Patriots haven’t signed Welker is insulting and concerning.)

Maybe he won’t be a contributor right away but will definitely be a guy on the roster who will develop. Perhaps Mallett to Ebert will be the next Brady tom Welker.

Grade A.

-Phil

How did you think the Patriots’ draft went? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Brodeur Region Round 2: #12 Jim Rice vs #13 Wes Welker

Not sure anyone can say they saw this one coming. Jim Rice took care of business and pulled off the upset against fifth-seeded Willis Reed. But this is March Madness, everyone knows at least one twelve beats and five. The second half of this matchup is where the real surprise lies. Somehow Wes Welker took out Lou Gehrig. Yes that Lou Gehrig. I guess Boston fans are that loyal.

An eight time All-Star and an MVP winner, Jim Rice is often forgotten as one of the best players, or at least hitters in the storied history of the Boston Red Sox. He was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 on his 15th and final time on the ballot after career in which he batted .298, smashed 382 home runs and drove in 1451 runs. The Red Sox also retired his No. 14 jersey that year.

A 5-9, 190 lb. guy from Texas Tech doesn’t scream great wide receiver yet somehow Wes Welker has been just that, especially since coming to the Patriots in 2007. He has had at least 111 receptions in four of his five years with the Patriots including three seasons in which he has led the NFL in receptions while compiling 7226 yards and 32 touchdowns.  Insert obligatory big things come in small packages type  cliche here.

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Brodeur Region: #4 Lou Gehrig vs #13 Wes Welker

Lou Gehrig once said It’s a pretty big shadow, it gives me lots of room to spread out” referring to teammate Babe Ruth’s mammoth success. Still Gehrig was one of the best Yankee hitters of all-time and it really just speaks to how loaded the Yankees were in the 1920s, 30s, 40s…alright well all the time. Welker is often overshadowed as well (possibly because of his short stature) by other receivers in the league but has still year after year been right at the top of just about every category that’s possible. Plus being Tom Brady’s favorite target has to say something.

Seven All-Star selections, six World Series titles and two MVPs (including one while playing with the man considered to be the greatest ever), Lou Gehrig might have been the Pippin to Babe Ruth’s Jordan but unlike Scottie, Gehrig was closer to his teammates ridiculous stratosphere. Gehrig’s career was tragically cut short but he still amassed 493 home runs, 1888 runs, 1995 RBIs while turning in a career .340 batting average. Oh and because of him noone can wear the No. 4 for the Yankees ever again and deservedly so.

A 5-9, 190 lb. guy from Texas Tech doesn’t scream great wide receiver yet somehow Wes Welker has been just that, especially since coming to the Patriots in 2007. He has had at least 111 receptions in four of his five years with the Patriots including three seasons in which he has led the NFL in receptions while compiling 7226 yards and 32 touchdowns.  Insert obligatory big things come in small packages type  cliche here.

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The Pro Bowl Roster

This year two of the four SeeYouInOctober teams are in the Super Bowl. We couldn’t have asked for a better match up than a Super Bowl 42 rematch. There have been some tremendous individual performances from players on all four teams and many have been rewarded with selections to this year’s Pro Bowl. Let’s take a look at who will dance the hula in Honolulu.

New England Patriots

With a 13-3 record this season it is no surprise that eight players were selected for this year’s Pro Bowl. Anyone who has paid attention for the NFL for even a second this season could name at least three without even having to think about it: Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. These guys proved lethal in New England’s high octane passing offense with Welker finishing second in the league behind Calvin Johnson for most receiving yards and Gronkowski setting a record for touchdowns by a tight end in a single season. For Mr. Brady it was just another stellar season in his hall of fame career. He was second in yards (Drew Brees was first), third in quarterback rating and fourth in touchdowns. Of course for skill position players to have such success it starts with a solid line. Guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters were each honored for their play this season.

However none of this really matters. The best offensive players in the NFL will all be watching this game as the continue to prepare for the Super Bowl next

Gronk has been a smash hit for the Pats.

Sunday and with Belichick you know there will be a ton of prep. Brady was replaced by the AFC’s rookie phenom the Red Rifle aka Andy Dalton, while his tight end Jermaine Gresham will replace Gronk. The receiver slot vacated by Wee Wes Welker will be taken by the Chargers’ Vincent Jackson and the two guard spots went to Ben Grubbs of Baltimore and Brandon Moore of the Jets, whom we will talk about a little later.

Despite the massive amount of yards given up by this defense, the Patriots were in the middle of the pack in terms of scoring defense. Their “bend but don’t break” style of play has rewarded them as they only play better in the playoffs and down the stretch in the regular season. Would you believe that with as many injuries and yards as they suffered the Pats have two guys named to the pro bowl on the defensive side of the ball? One is fairly obvious: Vince Wilfork. The big man was nominated for a Like a Boss award last week for his stellar performance against Ray Rice (Pro Bowler) and the Baltimore Ravens. This season the nose tackle was a beast up the middle getting pressure on quarterbacks and stuffing the run at the line. He even had two interceptions and treated fans to his running skills on a 28 yard run back. Defensive end Andre Carter also got the nod for the Pats. He collected 10 sacks this year, including a four-sack-feast of the Jets Mark Sanchez. It’s Indy for these two so Paul Soliai of the Dolphins will fill in for Wilfork and the Texans’ Antonio Smith will cover for Carter.

New York Jets

The Jets were a disappointment this season. A disappointment to Rex Ryan, everyone who picked them to the Super Bowl and all their fans. The only people who weren’t even a little disappointed were Patriots fans. Maybe Santonio Holmes, who didn’t seem like he cared much about anything at all. Despite their lack of success, four Jets will suit up this weekend for one last game. None of their skill position players made the cut with an extremely poor offensive output this year and it is surprising any players were named from the offensive side of the ball. Three of the Jets’ linemen were named with D’Brickishaw Ferguson,

Really? Three of these guys are Pro Bowlers? Why not just put them all in?

Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore making the cut. It is difficult to judge how well offensive lineman really play, especially for the fans. Experts have time to pour over hours of footage and watch specific match ups to see who is the best, but it would seem to me that Mangold and Ferguson made the roster based on reputation. You always make the pro bowl one year too late (Victor Cruz) and one year longer than you should, I heard an analyst say on ESPN. With an offense that struggled to run the ball and gave up the fifth most sacks in the league, it is difficult to imagine there were three Pro Bowlers on that line. Unless you put it all on Sanchez and the play calling, which many people do.

For the Gang Green defense Darrelle Revis will be the lone representative. Even though Revis Island was a little more luxurious this season, he still had a very good year. Out of the 21 passes he defended, Revis came away with four picks and only gave up one touchdown.

New York Giants

The Giants have had an extremely inconsistent season placing themselves squarely behind the eight ball with an upcoming contest against the Cowboys for an NFC East division title. The entire team has caught the injury bug and suffered through the season with a patchwork offensive line, a revolving door secondary and rookie receivers making a big splash. All of these factors in addition to the fourth quarter comebacks gave quarterback Eli Manning the edge over Tony Romo, Cam Newton and Mathew Stafford for the third spot on the roster. There is no argument about the two guys ahead of Manning as both Brees and Rodgers are equally deserving of the MVP this season, but the snubs can be argued. Manning has thrown for more yards than both Stafford and Romo, but lacks in almost every other statistical category. However, without a running game or a pro bowl pass catcher, Manning has shown he is a leader and made more with less talent. The third roster spot previously occupied by Manning went to rookie phenom Cam Newton. So Stafford got double snubbed? Not any of our concern really.

Many have argued that Manning does have a pro bowler to throw to in rookie Victor Cruz. Number 80 out of UMass has been singled out as one of the biggest

SNUB!

snubs on the NFC side of things as he has had an amazing first year. Cruz is currently third in the league in yards with 1358 behind only Wes Welker and Megatron (both pro bowlers) and ahead of Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith (also pro bowlers). His eight touchdown receptions place him in the top 10 in the league for touchdown receptions among wide receivers as well. The problem for Cruz is that he doesn’t have the pedigree and while he may have out performed the guys chosen ahead of him, on some level it is a popularity contest. Maybe next season Cruz will do the hula instead of the salsa and then everybody will know he deserves the selection.

Defensively Big Blue will send one player to Hawaii and it is no surprise and nobody will argue with the selection. Jason Pierre Paul has been a monster for the Giants pass rush and he was rewarded for his outstanding season. JPP has a signature moment to go along with his 15.5 sacks when he blocked the potential game tying field goal in Dallas. He has become a household name this season and gotten a lot of talk on Sports Center. It’s tough to ignore the speed, strength and long arms that make quarterbacks scared to take the field on Sunday. The Giants have produced yet another pro bowl defensive end as JPP has had to pick up the slack with Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyora both MIA due to injuries or poor play. Similar to Manning he has carried his squad and helped bring the Giants to the Super Bowl and unlike Cruz, in his second year people were keeping an eye on JPP. Too bad offensive lineman still can’t stop him. Julius Peppers will be playing in JPP’s stead (If you can’t get JPP might as well go for JP).

I’m sure Victor Cruz is feeling a lot better about the snub since he won’t be able to play in the game anyway with the impending Super Bowl. None of the G-Men will suit up this Sunday and that is just fine. Who would have guessed when the roster was announced that out of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning it would be Manning who would have to miss the game because his team was going to the Super Bowl? Not many. While Big Blue only had two Pro-Bowlers this season, they are tied with the Patriots for most Super Bowlers and that is something nobody would trade.

Buffalo Bills

Not surprisingly the Bills, who are out of playoff contention, failed to have a player make the pro bowl roster. If their were a first half pro bowl Buffalo would have had a quarterback and running back on the starting squad. As it is the AFC looks particularly weak at signal caller with Philip Rivers taking the third spot

Injury cut short a Pro Bowl year for Fred Jackson

behind Tom Brady and Ben Rothlisberger. Ryan Fitzpatrick is 10th in the league with 22 touchdown passes, one better than Big Ben. The biggest difficulty Fitzmagic has had is differentiating between his receivers and opposing defenses. Fitzy is atop this category with 19 picks on the year tied with Rivers among others. If the Bills hadn’t taken such a nose dive in the second half of the season it would have been a close competition between Rivers and Fitzpatrick for the third spot.

If is the key word for the Bills this season. If Fred Jackson hadn’t gotten injured, he would have been the starting running back for the AFC. Before breaking his leg Fred-Ex delivered yards both on the ground and through the air and was atop the league in combined yards. He was having a great season and could have been considered a contender for the illustrious conversation of non-quarterback MVP candidates. He carried the Bills to their hot start then when teams  started taking him out of the game, the entire team struggled. With Fred-Ex sidelined CJ Spiller has a chance to step up as the feature back. Perhaps next year Spiller will be the pro bowl candidate.

Does anybody even watch the Pro Bowl? We won’t be watching this year with the Pats and G-Men headed to Indy! Let us know if you’ll be watching via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Judgement Day

Who's that guy on the right? Three time Super Bowl Champion and two time MVP Tom Brady? Never heard of him-ESPN

When I watched the Denver Broncos play the Pittsburgh Steelers game last week I was rooting for the Broncos. Not because I have some weird attachment to Denver or because I am on the Tebow Train but because I thought the Broncos would be an easier draw than the Steelers.  When the Broncos won in miraculous fashion I was equally as shocked/impressed as most of the US football watching population. I was also pleased, initially, thinking well the road to the Super Bowl just got easier.

Now I’m not so sure and as a Boston fan I don’t feel like I’m alone. Should the Pats win this game? Yes all logic says they should, but we’ve seen this move before. Patriots fans have two devastating losses in playoff games they were supposed to win. The Super Bowl that shall not be named. (You know the one with the helmet catch). The Patriots beat the Giants in the regular season and then lost in the game that would have cemented the greatest single season in NFL history. Then there was last year which is even more relevant. The Pats beat the feet loving hell out of the Jets in the regular season. Going into the divisional playoff round in New England all signs pointed to a win for the Patriots and yet they lost.

Now this week everything points to a Patriots win but there’s that lingering doubt with those playoff wounds still fresh in New England fans minds.  But this time it’s been slightly different. Somehow the Patriots, who are still -13.5 points favorites,  seem to be flying under the radar. (In fact that seems to be the trend of this Divisional Round. Who cares that the Packers went 15-1? The Giants beat the Falcons and remember they won the Super Bowl 4 years ago because that affects this matchup.) ESPN has finally stopped it’s obsession with LeBron and the Miami Heat but has traded it in for a fancy new model: Tim Tebow. Other than PTI every talking head show mentions Tim Tebow at least 14 times per minute. Stories about everything from his high school coaches to the man who sold him a Gatorade from a gas station one time lead Sportscenter over actual sporting events. According to ESPN there is one playoff game this week and no others. And unlike before that Super Bowl I won’t mention and last years debacle against the Jets, thee are a number of analysts who are saying that there’s a chance the Broncos can pull off this win.

Is the man who drafted Tebow going to give the Pats an edge?

(Also if the Patriots lose this game we will be hearing about Tim Tebow for the next 4.5 million years on ESPN. I won’t be able to watch SportsCenter for the next couple of months. It will be Super Bowl 42 all over again.)

So really I don’t know what to think. With the thought that Tim Tebow might be the second coming and the Patriots essentially playing the villain in every sports movie (outside of the ones where a band of scrappy urban kids defeat racism by playing basketball) ever, I just can’t get a read on this game.

But let’s remember;

1- The Patriots trashed the Broncos when they met in the regular season. Tom Brady lit up the Broncos defense for 41 points. Aaron Hernandez went wild catching nine balls for 129 yards in a game when Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski were hled somewhat at bay. That game was in Denver and now the Patriots get to play them at home.

2- Tim Tebow had his best game as a quarterback last week against Pittsburgh and he still completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

3- The Steelers were a team banged up with injuries. Ben Roethlisberger could barely move in the pocket let alone throw accurate passes and Mike Tomlin pushed every one up to stop the run and left his secondary exposed with no help over the top which allowed Tebow to just chuck deep balls, and not attempt to complete timing patterns or throws that require better accuracy, a mistake Bill Belichick will learn from and not make.

4- The Broncos still only managed to scrape out a 23-20 victory against a team with a poor defensive strategy and an offensive missing its best weapon (Reshard Mendenhall) that was run by a quarterback limited to as much athletic ability as Kevin from The Office with papier-mâché ankles.

5- The New England Patriots won 13 games this season with Tom Brady having an historically great season and they still have the best coach in football on the sidelines in Belichick.

Now I’m coming back to my senses if only the knotts in my stomach would do the same.

The Pick: New England 38 Denver 24

-Phil

P.S. Here’s how the rest of the weekend goes. Saints take down the 49ers in a close one. Ravens roll over Houston. Packers win by 10 over the Giants.

Should the Patriots be worried against the Broncos? Are you tied of hearing about Tebow on ESPN? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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