Tag Archives: AFC East

An In-Depth Look At The 2014 Patriots Schedule

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For the second year in a row, the New England Patriots have a Week 10 bye. Bill Belichick and crew had a Week 9 bye in 2012 – exactly half way through the season. While the position of the break may be advantageous, their out-of-division schedule is quite the opposite.

Tom Brady will lead the Pats against the AFC West and NFC North, two of the more competitive divisions as-of-late. The tough stretch comes right before (and after) the bye, as the Bears and Broncos travel to Gillette 10/26 and 11/02 respectively. After the break, New England travels to Indianapolis for Sunday Night Football, hosts the Lions and then ship to Green Bay for a 4:25 game in the Tundra and another Sunday Night Football game in San Diego.

The Patriots wrap up the season with three 1:00 division games ending with the Bills in the season finale. Other highlights include a Thursday Night game at home against the Jets, Monday Night Football at Kansas City and Sunday Night Football the week after against the Bengals. New England have six primetime slots, seven including their 4:25 matchup at home against the Broncos. It will be definitely be an uphill battle this year but with a revamped defense, anticipation is high for the 2014 Patriots.

Brady Picked In End Zone As Dolphins Hang On To Top Pats

Michael Thomas of the Dolphins celebrates his game-ending pick with the rest of the Miami defense.


The Patriots have been nothing shirt of dominant in the moth of December for the past few seasons. The Miami sunshine must have confused them.

With a chance to take advantage of Denver’s Thursday night loss at the hands of the Chargers, the Pats could not pull off their fourth straight gut-check win. Trailing the Dolphins, 24-20, Tom Brady was picked off by on a fourth-down play in the end zone by Michael Thomas, fresh of the 49ers‘ practice squad, as time expired.

The Miami win kept their hopes for the AFC East alive as they improved to 8-6 and the Patriots lost for the first time since the Monday Night game against the Panthers. It was their first win against New England in eight games and their third straight overall.

“We didn’t do a good job in the red area,” Brady said after the game.And didn’t do a good job finishing drives. We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn’t a good day. Just couldn’t make enough plays.”

Brady did throw two touchdowns to Michael Hoomanawanui and Julian Edelman, but his only mistake of the day at best prolonged New England’s 11th division title in the last 14 seasons.
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw the game-winning touchdown pass – his third of the day – to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 remaining in the fourth, leaving just enough time for Brady to get within striking distance thanks to a couple of big conversions.
The Pats went into the half up 10-0 thanks to a botched Miami field goal attempt, but quickly saw their halftime lead turn to 10-7 to start the third and then 17-10 after a field goal and another TD pass.

They would come back to score the next 10, however, with a Stephen Gostkowki field goal from 23 yards out and a 24-yard pass from Brady to  Edelman with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter. Gostkowski had missed his first attempt earlier in the game.

Again, however, the Pats’ makeshift D gave up the go-ahead score despite Miami facing a 3rd-and-16 to begin the drive. Tanehill would complete two straight and pick up the first down as the clock kept rolling. After mostly short and intermediate throws, he then connected with Rishard Matthews for a 24-yard gain to the New England 14 and then hit  Thigpen on the next play to put the ‘Phins up, 24-20, with 1:15 to go. Gostkowski’s kickoff had gone out of bounds, which set Miami up at their own 40.

Then, facing a 4th-and-8 at his own 33, Brady threw a pea to Danny Amendola for one of his 10 catches, to pick up 12 yards with 52 seconds left. On the next series, Brady connected with Edelman for one of his 13 catches to pick up 16 on 3rd-and-10 now with 27 to play. And the Pats were in the red zone.

A Dolphins’ offsides set the Pats up at the 14, but Brady tried three times to get in the end zone and failed. The first was to Edelman, the second to Hoomanawanui and then his fourth-down pass intended for Austin Collie was intercepted by Thomas in the end zone to end the game.

“I knew being the new guy that Tom Brady would come after me,” Thomas said. “He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to exploit any weaknesses.”

Danny Amendola's potential game-winning catch slipped through his finger tips.

Danny Amendola’s potential game-winning catch slipped through his finger tips.

Brady finished the day 34-of-55 for 364 yards – his fourth straight 300-yard game. Edelman caught 13 for 139 yards and a score while Amendola snagged 10 for 131 of his own, but couldn’t haul in the game-winner in the end zone despite having both hands on the ball on the final drive. Both were huge in the comeback bid that fell just short while Shane Vereen mustered only 21 total yards on five touches for the day. Neither team ran for 100 yards.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 3-4 on the road this season while they are a perfect 7-0 at home. Fourteen fourth-quarter points allowed had a lot to do with that.

“We were short in every area [today],” Bill Belichick said, noting that special teams play had a lot to do with it.

Miami coach, Joe Philbin, said after the game that he might go home and jump in his pool for the second time since moving to Florida, referring to a celebratory swim.

The Pats will host the 7-6 defending champion Ravens in the late game next Sunday while the Dolphins look to bolster their playoff chances against the Bills at Ralph Wilson.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

Patriots Pulse: Brady Shocks Brees, Saints With Last-Second Touchdown Pass

Kenbrell Thompkins skies to hang on to the game-winning touchdown pass and the Patriots held on to improve to 5-1 on the year.

Kenbrell Thompkins skies to hang on to the game-winning touchdown pass and the Patriots held on to improve to 5-1 on the year.


In a back-and-forth game at Gillette, when the leaves seemed to be a little redder at the end than they were at the start, Tom Brady once again reminded everyone in New England just exactly why he is one of the greatest of all-time. And it was one of his rookies, Kenbrell Thompkins, that was on the receiving end of the 17-yard pass as he jumped up and came down with the ball between his hands just above the outstretched defender in the corner of the endzone and all but locked up the 30-27 come-from-behind win over the previously undefeated Saints.

Trailing by four with just over a minute left, Brady drove the Pats 70 yards after the defense forced a New Orleans punt and left enough time by burning their three timeouts. He went 5-for-7 on the drive, utilizing Julian Edelman, Austin Collie and then Thompkins for big gains and also passing Vinny Testaverde for eighth on the all-time passing yards list.

“Guys made big time catches,” Brady said of his new receivers’ play on the final drive before adding that no matter what, he has confidence in his targets.

The Pats jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead behind two rushing touchdowns from Stevan Ridley, who was back in the lineup after missing last week’s contest with a knee injury. A Stephen Gostkowski field goal on their first possession had made it 3-0, Pats. Drew Brees would keep his team in it, however, as he utilized some new targets to put up some points.

New England fell behind, 7-3, as Brees got the Saints on the board with a late touchdown pass in the first to Travaris Cadet from three yards out. Ridley would score the next two, though, and the Pats went into the dressing room with a 10-point lead despite no touchdown passes from Brady for the sixth straight quarter.

After deferring to the second half, the Saints came out with the first 10 points of the third quarter as well with a 28-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley first and then a three-yard run from Khiry Robinson, who was in there with Mark Ingram inactive for the contest. Gostkowski then broke the 17-17 tie with 1:36 left in the third and added his third of the day six and a half minutes into the fourth to make the score 23-17 Patriots with 8:34 to play.

Again, Brees answered, however, finding Kenny Stills with a 34-yard pass that Alfonzo Dennard appeared to have a beat on, but was unable to bat down in the corner of the endzone. Stills came down with both feet in and the Saints led, 24-23, with 3:29 to play. Plenty of time remained for Brady, but No. 12 couldn’t get anything going and New England was forced to punt. Hartley would then add three more and force the Pats to drive down the field needing a touchdown with 2:24 left.

Brady then threw a deep interception on the first play as he tried to connect with Edelman down the right side and it would be up to the defense to get the ball back. They held and with the help of the two-minute warning and their final timeout, were able to get the ball back into Brady’s hands.

He opened the game-winning drive with a 23-yard completion to Edelman before finding Collie for 15 more on the next play. Instead of clocking it with 39 seconds remaining, Brady faked the spike and fired to Aaron Dobson, who not only picked up six huge yards, but got out of bounds to stop the clock. After failing to connect with Edelman on each of the next two plays, including once at the goal line, Brady then found Collie again, who got to the New Orleans 17 with 10 seconds left on the scoreboard clock.

Then, Brady found the rookie, who made his third catch of the game to cap off the thrilling no-huddle drive and shock the undefeated Saints. Brady finished the game .25-of-43 for 269 yards and the one huge touchdown pass that sent his team to 5-1 on the year, while out-passing Brees.

“What more can you ask out of your leader?” Ridley said. “He put the team on his back.”

Danny Amendola, Dan Connolly and Aqib Talib all suffered injuries in the game, but despite hurting his hip, Talib was able to help contain tight end, Jimmy Graham, who had just zero catches for zero yards on six targets and failed to become the first tight end ever with five straight 100-yard receiving games.

Dobson was solid on the day and led the Pats with six catches for 63 yards and Ridley finished with 96 yards on 20 attempts. Edelman had five for 57 and a tight end actually snuck into the offense as Michael Hoomanawanui caught four balls for 57 yards. Joe Vellano led the team with eight tackles.

The touchdown pass to Thompkins would have tied Brees’ NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass had Brady’s streak not come to an end a week ago. Rob Gronkowski was inactive for a sixth straight game.

New England (5-1) remains alone atop the AFC East and will take on the Jets for the second time this season next Sunday afternoon while New Orleans, who fell to 5-1, will host the Bills.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

New England Patriots AFC East Preview

New England Patriots AFC East Preview:

Since the turn of the millennium the New England Patriots have won 10 out of 13 AFC East titles. The Patriots are the team to beat and have dominated the division as well as the NFL in the early 2000′s when they won three Super Bowls in four years; 2001, 2003 and 2004. In 2012 New England broke a tie with the Dolphins for most division titles; The Patriots have won 15 division titles to Miami’s 14 with the Bills on ten and the Jets on four.

Some people are suggesting that the Dolphins could be a threat to the Patriots in the AFC East but despite the fact they have improved on both sides of the ball it is rare for teams who spend big to do well on the field so despite Miami’s optimism their best hope will be to earn a wildcard spot whereas personally I see them finishing the season 8-8. The Bills are a team trying to find a new identity and their season will be judged on the production of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel so I’d predict them to finish 5-11. Meanwhile the Jets will finish 6-10 as despite having a good defense, they ranked 8th overall in 2012, they lack any spark on offense but Jets fans will be thankful that Mark Sanchez is out injured.

FUMBLE!

FUMBLE!


The main reason some are doubting the Patriots this season is because Tom Brady heads in to 2013 season without key members of a prolific offense from last year which broke the record for first downs in a season with 444 and finished third all-time in scoring, 557 points, just behind the 2011 Green Bay Packers and their own 2007 record setting season. Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Lloyd have all departed while Rob Gronkowski underwent a 3rd and 4th forearm surgery this off-season as well as back surgery so his return to the field could take up until week 6 and he looks doubtful for the season opener against the Bills tomorrow.

The Patriots offense now features many new additions with most of them being rookies but preseason alone showed that Brady seems to be making it work with the likes of Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Zach Sudfeld. 2nd round pick Dobson has lots of potential are notably during his senior season at college he did no record a single drop from the 92 times he was targeted. Josh Boyce and Thompkins put up impressive numbers during preseason so they could be valuable assets whilst undrafted rookie Zach Sudfield who stands at 6’7 has the ability to be a Gronk 2.0. Speaking of 2.0′s Danny Amendola was signed in favour of retaining Wes Welker’s services and the Patriots will be hoping for similar results out of Amendola with both resilient along with being quick and mobile. Amendola is also a fellow Texas Tech product and after building up a good rapport with Tom Brady it is safe to say he should fit in to the Patriots’ offensive system quickly. Brady has a knack for bringing the best out of his receivers which is a skill not many quarterbacks have and if he manages to produce great results out of this unknown group and win a 4th Super Bowl ring too he may certainly cement his place as the greatest QB to ever play the game. This is backed up by the fact that he holds the league record for most touchdown passes in the regular season with 50, has the most playoff wins in NFL history with 17, has the third highest career passer rating of all-time (96.6) and after breaking Joe Montana’s playoff wins record also became the first NFL quarterback in history to guide his team to 10 divisional titles; With Joe Montana he’s one of only two quarterbacks in history to win the regular season MVP and Super Bowl MVP as well as being one of only two QB’s to lead their teams to 5 Super Bowls (3 wins) along with John Elway.

Can Brady and Belichick guide the Pats to their 4th ring?

Can Brady and Belichick guide the Pats to their 4th ring?

 

When you take the fact that this offense is led by head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady even when you throw an unknown group of players in with them if anything it is scarier for their opponents as without the players who departed they won’t know what to expect which is what still makes the Patriots a genuine Super Bowl contender. Their running game is dangerous and will improve whereas New England’s defense doesn’t get enough credit for the fact that they have finished in the top 10 in points allowed for six of the past seven years. After drafting the likes of linebacker Jamie Collins in the second round from the 2013 draft and adding him to a young talented group of players that include the likes of Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower as well as defensive leaders Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes this could be one of the Patriots’ most talented defensive groups in years. With Aqib Talib signing a new contract he will be a real asset in the secondary and help this underrated defense improve in an area where they have been pretty vulnerable for the past two seasons. MetLife stadium is the aim for many teams for the 2013 season but when you assess the New England Patriots it is clear to see that they are one of the frontrunners to represent the AFC at Super Bowl and clinch a fifth consecutive AFC East title.

Season prediction: 12-4. 1st in AFC East.

 

BST&N’S 2013 NFL Predictions From The Playoffs To Individual Awards

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It’s almost here, but if you weren’t excited enough about the NFL returning in a couple weeks, here are a few more reasons. It’s time to make some predictions that will inevitably have clear cut outomes and boggle the minds of some while sparking some pretty intense debates. I think I have them all right, though. Here are my picks for all eight division winners, the four Wild Card teams, each conference’s championship matchup, the Super Bowl, league leaders and major award recipients.

AFC East (2): Patriots – Nine straight division titles when the team has been quarterbacked by Tom Brady? Yeah, make it 10 for New England. While they undoubtedly will be transitioning on the field this season, they are still fairly high above the other three teams in the division. Plus, their quarterback never runs into butts.

AFC North (4): Bengals – Get used to hearing “Dalton to Green” and get used to seeing the Bengals in the postseason (even if it is just for one game) for the third straight year. Cleveland will probably finish fourth.

AFC South (3): Colts – The Colts made an unbelievable turnaround in 2012 and it seems to me they are not done improving. Eleven wins last season was good, but I see them hitting at least 12 this year, including making a push to overtake the Texans late in the year with a huge win over them in Week 15.

AFC West (1): Broncos – Obviously. This one will probably be the biggest division win by any team this season. I say 14-2 for Denver with San Diego the closest to them at 7-9. Welker…and Decker…and Thomas might play a role in their success as well.

Peyton Manning wil lead the Broncos to another division title.

Peyton Manning wil lead the Broncos to another division title.

AFC Wild Card (5): Texans – Houston has three of the best players in the league in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt. The supporting cast is not bad either and Matt Schaub obviously has what it takes to lead a team to the postseason. I just think the Colts will steal the division from them sooner or later and Houston will wind up in the five-spot.

AFC Wild Card (6): Ravens – Though their defense is gong to look quite different, the Ravens should be able to get enough out of Joe Flacco to back in to the playoffs as the conference’s No.6 seed. From there, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were bounced immediately as I’m a little wary that Flacco might have nothing left to motivate him.

NFC East (3): Redskins – As long as RG’s knee can hold up for 16 games, the Redskins are poised to repeat as NFC East champs. He will be an x-factor for them this season, leading them to big wins over the Packers, Falcons and Giants and clinching this division before the final night of the season.

NFC North (4): VikingsAdrian Peterson will carry them to the division title in 2013. That’s really the only way I see that happening for the Vikes, who will have to contend with the Packers and maybe even the Lions or Bears. Green Bay finishes a very close second, but will be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

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Patriots Can’t Fall Into Familiar Trap Against Texans

Jets receivers Braylon Edwards (left) and Santonio Holmes celebrate a playoff upset in 2010 that no one saw coming.

Jets receivers Braylon Edwards (left) and Santonio Holmes celebrate a playoff upset in 2010 that no one saw coming.

Could they have us all right where they want us?

Remember back to 2010. The first of three straight years of a dominant Patriots offense. An eight-game winning streak. A 14-2 regular season. Rob Gronkowski was just beginning his Hall of Fame career. Rex Ryan was a few pounds heavier.

The situation is all too familiar for Patriots fans. Think back to two short years ago when our beloved Pats took the field at Gillette Stadium on a Monday night in December. The opponent was the New York Jets. The hoodie was a full-blown parka. Remember now?

With the AFC East still potentially up for grabs, the Jets looked like the team from Little Giants. It was quite a good night for Patriots fans across New England, you see, because at the time, the Jets were actually good. They were playoff contenders. Heck, they went to the AFC Championship Game.

And the Patriots absolutely had their way with them behind 326 yards and four touchdown passes from MVP candidate Tom Brady. The final score?

45-3.

No one in the New England area thought the Patriots would be able to do any wrong for the rest of the year. Plans for a fifth Super Bowl appearance were in the works.

Fast forward a few weeks. The Jets, after winning a Wild Card game against the Colts, were back in Foxboro for another frigid showdown against their rival Patriots. This time, however, everyone knew they didn’t have a chance.

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