Category Archives: General

AFC Championship: Colts vs Patriots

Tonight sees the Indianapolis Colts travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship. The winner will go on to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona in 2 weeks time to face either Seattle or Green Bay. By the time the Colts and Patriots game kicks off the winner will know who their opponent will be in the big game but the question is who will represent the AFC in that game?

Well in a playoff game with the stakes so high it is tough to predict and that’s despite the fact that the last 3 times these teams have met have ended in victory for the Patriots by a margin of 21 points of more including last years playoffs when the Pats walked over their opponents 43-22. The key to New England’s last two wins against the Colts have been the running game with LeGarrette Blount torching the Colts for 166 yards and 4 touchdowns in that playoff game last year and back in week 11 of this season when we saw the emergence of Jonas Gray who’s 37 carries went for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Since then though Indianapolis’ run defense has got much better and besides a crazy 4th down run completion by C.J. Anderson last week when they faced Denver the Colts did a great job of stopping the run which forced the game on to Peyton Manning’s shoulders. That was the key factor in last week’s win for the Colts as unfortunately for Manning in spite of Manning’s undeniable greatness when it comes to the bright lights of the postseason he does falter with last weeks loss being his 9th one and done appearance in the playoffs.

Now if the Colts want to send the Patriots home packing just like they did to the Broncos last week then there will have to be a different game plan as forcing the game on Tom Brady’s shoulders will just end in disaster. That was the scenario that Brady faced last week when the Pats rallied back from two 14 point deficits to overcome the Ravens in one of the greatest playoff victories in the franchises history. If New England do go on to win the Super Bowl then that game will be a defining moment in this teams history and in the dynasty created by Belichick and Brady as despite all the adversity they have faced this year and in last week’s game in particular when it matters most they know how to come up trumps.

For the Colts to indeed have a chance of causing an upset then they have to limit their turnovers. Andrew Luck threw 2 interceptions last week and in his career versus the Patriots he has thrown 8 interceptions in 3 games which is the most against any opponent he has faced during his 3 year career. Luck has the potential to pull off magic and gets better year by year and also game by game; a player like him thrives in moments like this and he himself could go down as one of the best to play the game when his career comes to and end but going up against Tom Brady who is making his 9th appearance in an AFC Title game with the chance of playing in a 6th Super Bowl is going to be one of the biggest challenges of this young mans career.

Down 21-14 halftime last week after throwing an interception just before the half which resulted in a Ravens touchdown to put them behind Baltimore then went 28-14 ahead with another touchdown after the break. Tom Brady had to come up with something big, something magical against an opponent who have been a thorn in the Patriots’ side in recent years gone by and he did just that. Brady orchestrated a touchdown drive which ended with a 2nd and goal touchdown pass to Gronkowski to put the Pats within 7 and just over 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter and that’s when the Patriots started to pull out all the stops.

Belichick used his genius to pull out new formations that frustrated his opposite number Jim Haubaugh so much that he ran on to the field which resulted in a 15 yard penalty. That inspired offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to dial up the trick play and play of the game when Brady threw behind the line of scrimmage to Julian Edelman who threw a dime to Danny Amendola down field for the 51 yard touchdown to tie the game. Amendola was the standout performer for me especially after his fumble at the beginning of the first quarter, it appeared that he would struggle once again but he stepped out of the wilderness to play the best game of his NFL career to date when it mattered most.

On 3rd and 6 down 31-28 he got crucial yards after the catch with brilliant play to break a tackle and make the key conversion with just over 7 minutes left in the 4th in that touchdown drive which won the game for New England. That drive was the career defining moment when Brady pulled in to that bag of magic one more time to lead the Patriots down the field and finish the drive with a perfectly thrown pass to Brandon LaFell in between 2 defenders to put New England 35-31 ahead with 5:13 remaining (that touchdown put Brady ahead of Joe Montana for the most touchdowns of all-time in the playoffs with 46) .At the time the Pats didn’t know that it would be that score which would win them the game but it was. Brady and Belichick had done it again and the Patriots have a fantastic chance to end their 10/11 year wait for a Super Bowl victory.

Now I have to say that offense gets not all but the vast majoirty of the praise especially when you have a first ballot hall of famer under centre putting up points. After all Tom Brady has the most playoff wins of any QB ever and Bill Belichick is now tied with the most wins amongst any head coach in NFL history which obviously helps but after a shocking first half performance last week the Patriots defense stepped up when it mattered most with the likes of Devin McCourty who intecepted Joe Flacco to give the Pats defense some momentum, Jamie Collins who was a beast and showed why he has the talent to become of the best linebackers in the league, Patrick Chung (3rd and goal he broke up a pass to Owen Daniels to hold the Ravens to a field goal and only go ahead by 3 points: 31-28) and Duron Harmon who’s late interception in the final quarter essential killed the game are all unsung heroes. Even Darrelle Revis had a torrid time against Steve Smith in the first half but in the second half he proved why he is in the top 3 best corners in the league with a bounce back performance.

Defense doesn’t completely win championships like the cliche goes but you need your D to come up big when it matters most which is what New England’s did last Sunday and come today’s game they will need to up their play for the entire contest in order to help give this Patriots team a shot at another Lombardi. The same goes for the Colts defense as they will have to maintain the high level of play they pulled off last week against Denver which showed physicality and passion in order to stop this Pats offense. In their last encounter back in week 11 when the Patriots won 42-20 the run game as well as Rob Gronkowski tore the Colts defense apart simply because they were more physical and just outright stronger than their opponents. Vontae Davis is one of the best 3 corners in the league so he will need to be at his best to inspire this Colts defense if they are to pull off victory and that is exactly what he did last week as he inspired his partner Gregg Toler to put in a stellar performance which made the Broncos offense look ordinary.

Doing that against the Patriots will be a slightly more challenging task but after winning in Mile High last week the Colts have the momentum that all teams need when it comes to the postseason. The same goes for New England as they will feel they have the momentum required to go all the way. For me the key to this game again is Rob Gronkowski; as I’ve said for weeks now if he is healthy the Patriots will win the Super Bowl but of course productivity comes in to play as well. His blocking will help the run game when the Patriots attempt to do so and they will hope it will work better than last week considering Brady thew 50 pass attempts and dragged the team out of a tough spot but here is the key for me: When Gronk has 40 plus receiving yards the Patriots are 11-1 including the postseason and 2-2 when he has been held to less. If Gronk gets going then this one is over especially as this season Indianapolis main weakness has been tight ends so when going up against the best in the league it could be the difference maker.

Of course we know Andrew Luck has 40 touchdowns and is having a career year, he has TY Hilton, Moncrief, Nicks along with fellow wide out Reggie Wayne who can still make plays and Boom Herron who has taken the running game in to his own hands in the past two weeks but in playoff games of this magnitude home field advantage is a big thing and despite the Colts’ brilliant performance last week versus Denver I think a win over Belichick and Brady in their own back yard with a Super Bowl place at stake is too big of a task for the Colts to overcome in this stage of Luck’s career. Luck is a brilliant quarterback and Indianapolis will have to score at least 30 points to win this one but I don’t see that happening; Under Andrew Luck the Colts will have great moments and in his career he will raise the Lombardi trophy on probably more than one occasion but the Patriots are prepared for this situation, Brady and Belichick have striven so much for this moment and are determined to lead the franchise to a 4th Super Bowl title to cement their greatness in NFL history… A win tonight gives them that chance and they’ll be sure to capture it.

Prediction: Colts 27-37 Patriots

Breaking Down The Celtics Draft Picks

boston celtics

He is a hard nut to crack. He’ll say one thing with conviction, and then do the exact opposite, because Danny Ainge. He is the most interesting GM in the world. He’s built up draft picks and assets, capped off with the recent trades of Rajon Rondo & Jeff Green. The man will never tip his hand, but we can speculate his long-term plan. First, let’s review all of the celtics draft picks:

  • Celtics first-round pick, 2015
  • Celtics second-round pick 2015
  • 76ers first-round pick (2015 or ‘16) Top-14 protected pick. If the first-round pick isn’t conveyed then it turns into second-round picks in 2015 and 2016.
  • Clippers first-round pick, 2015 Unprotected
  • Mavericks first-round pick (2015, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19 or ‘20) Protected for picks 1-3, 15-30 in 2015. Protection changes to picks 1-7 in 2016-2020.
  • Timberwolves first-round pick (2015, ‘16 or ‘17 & ’18) Top-12 protected pick in both 2015 and 2016, and if it isn’t conveyed by then it becomes second-round picks in both 2016 and 2017.
  • Celtics first-round pick (2016)
  • Celtics second-round pick (2016)
  • Nets first-round pick, unprotected (2016)
  • Cavaliers first-round pick, protected (2016) This pick is top-10 protected
  • Celtics first-round pick, 2017
  • Celtics second-round pick 2017
  • Nets first-round pick (2017) Celtics can swap picks with the Nets, if the Nets’ pick ends up being higher in the draft than Boston’s. The Celtics would give up an additional second-round pick if they choose to make this swap.
  • Celtics first-round pick, 2018
  • Celtics second-round pick 2018
  • Nets first-round pick, Unprotected (2018)

Hard to be mad when you have those assets. The question remains, what will Danny do with these picks?


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When asked about why he acquired so many draft picks, he replied, “picks are always tradable, players are not”, which gives us a feel for what he may do. I have to say, I like where his head is at. It’s fastest way to the top. If Ainge made a trade at the right time to bring in an all-star or two, with Sullinger, Bradley and/or Smart, we are back in business. However, I don’t always trust Danny’s judgement when it comes to player evaluations, which leaves me with an unsettling feeling. If he screws this up, then all we have done here is just waste precious time. So, in summation – big risk, big reward with this rebuild.

Let’s pray it pays big.

 

Side note: Great win tonight. Hard to believe we’re still in Playoff Contention. Lol @ the Eastern Conference..

 

B’s Beat: Injured Bruins Set To Make Return

ZDENO

The last week or so for the Boston Bruins has been dreadful on a variety of levels. As they sit at home licking their wounds following a brutal west coast trip, the Chicago Blackhawks are heading to town in what will likely be another beating if the B’s can’t get it together.

Injuries have dominated the team for nearly the entire season thus far, and the team has struggled to stay afloat. While guys like Torey Krug and Kevan Miller have missed a few games here and there due to minor injuries, big fish like Zdeno Chara and David Krejci have missed nearly 17+ games apiece dealing with their ailments.

I know there are the tough guys out there who don’t like to make excuses for people, but any team would struggle without their number one center and number one defenseman. Would the Blackhawks still dominate without Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith? Would the Los Angeles Kings still be great without Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty? No, probably not.

Now before you go all crazy accusing of me of comparing those players to Krejci and Chara; I just want to make it clear that I am comparing these players’ importance to their team and nothing more. Obviously Toews is better than Krejci.

Fortunately for the B’s; both Chara and Krejci are practicing in full with the team, and it looks as if both could return to game action by the end of the week.

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Celtics Late Game Struggles Continue

As one famous Bostonian put it: “It’s the same old story, same old song and dance, my friends.”

The Celtics can’t seem to snap out of their late game woes, as any win-able game has seemed to slip out of sight. The way they have played, they’ve found a ton of different ways to lose in the fourth quarter of games. Honestly, it wouldn’t be too far off to call them choke artists.

How brutal has the late game play been? Over the last 9 games (1-8), the Celtics have been outscored by 76 points in the fourth quarter alone. In comparison, during the first three quarters the Celtics have outscored opponents by 11 points.

A combination of bad team defense, and careless, sloppy and unexecuted offense plagues this team at the most critical points. You could peg this on inexperience in late game situations (duh). You could make the case they run out of intensity and energy late in games too, sure.

Losing close games is much better for this team compared to last year, when the Celtics would not even be in close games. Still, it is very frustrating to watch games lost so dramatically and so pitifully in the fourth quarter. Tough times are bound to happen when in rebuilding with a young team and second year coach. They should not however, lose large 4th quarter leads in 6 out of the last 9 games. Needless to say, if I am Brad Stevens I am going to back to drawing board.

From this rough patch, the season could play out one of two ways. Before you learn how to win, you need to learn how to lose.. yadi yadi yada. The more close game situations this team faces, the more opportunities this team work out the kinks and find ways to win games. The team will find out their best go-to-players, late-game lineups, out of bounds plays, etc.

Or, they’ll continue to flail down the stretch of games. They won’t figure out how to win close games, which will hurt their confidence, and more so, their record. Marquee players like Green, Bass and Rondo will look to be shipped out of town. Rumors are already surfacing – don’t expect them to go away anytime soon if the Celtics continue to hand over games.

I’m not convinced the 4th quarter woes will subside. The team has not found a go-to player, which is a huge issue. The closest thing they have is Jeff Green. If I were Brad Stevens, I would integrate and test out a few different bench players to play with the starters down the stretch. Particularly shooters and play-makers on offense, like Marcus Thorton, Marcus Smart or even someone like James Young. If they hit a big shot or play well down the stretch, try them out again and see if they can come through for the team.

 

Marcus Thorton Shot

The Celtics desperately need clutch 4th quarter play. Could a guy like Marcus Thorton be the answer?

 

The Celtics are a young team, and because they are young, they lack leadership and go-to clutch playing down the stretch. These things need to be a priority for the month of December for coach Stevens.

The schedule gets easier for the C’s in the month of December. That, and the addition of Marcus Smart will solidify this team on both sides of the ball. In short, the Celtics have to dig themselves out of a hole and get close to .500 by the new year.

We will learn a lot about what this team is in the coming month. Their resiliency and mental toughness is being challenged after to a dreadful, heartbreaking month of November. How they play in December will be an indication as to what kind of team they will be for the rest of the regular season.

 

Twitter: @reelbigfish10

 

Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers 11/22

Despite a couple of consecutive startling losses, the Bruins have weathered the storm without Zdeno Chara quite nicely over the last month or so. They are now…since losing their captain, including…over the last two weeks. Also during that time, one winger notched an offensive milestone, Toronto scored the most goals it has scored against Boston at home in 14 years and one Bruins leader had his worst individual game in over three years. This is Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers.

The Bruins celebrate a goal during a come-from-behind win in Columbus.

The Bruins celebrate a goal during a come-from-behind win in Columbus.

1: Somehow, Simon Gagne, Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg were each plus-1 in the 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 12 and no one was worse than minus-2.

1: Matt Fraser’s fight with Nathan Beaulieu of the Canadiens on Nov. 13 was his first penalty of the season in his 10th game.



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1: Matt Bartkowski recorded his first point of the season on Torey Krug’s Nov. 18 goal against the Blues though it was only his sixth game of 2014-15. Bartkowski, who still does not have a goal in 91 regular-season NHL games, notched his first point since April 3.

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Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers – 11/9/14

Since losing Zdeno Chara a little over two weeks ago, the Bruins have collectively stepped up and gone 5-1-0 without their captain in the lineup. Guys like Dougie Hamilton and Brad Marchand have really started to take off and despite all of the injuries on the blue line, Boston now sits just one point behind the Canadiens. Here is a closer look at some of the statistics, which includes a look at just how hot Marchand has been, a first for one former Bruin and the continuing domination of the Black and Gold against one rival netminder. This is Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers.

Brad Marchand has been a big part of the Bruins' success in the last couple of weeks.

Brad Marchand has been a big part of the Bruins’ success in the last couple of weeks.

0: The Bruins did not have a power play against the Panthers on Tuesday. It was the first time since March 17 of last season that they did not have a power-play opportunity.

1: Shawn Thornton played in his first ever game as a visitor at TD Garden on Tuesday night. It was also the first time he had ever played against the Bruins.

1: Zach Trotman picked up his first career point with an assist on Seth Griffith’s goal in the first period of the Oct. 28 game against the Wild.

1:28: Matt Fraser scored two goals in 1:28 in the second period against the Senators last Saturday to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.

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