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Lucky number 6 or will Luck end the Patriots hot streak? New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts

Many people associate the “Lucky number” phrase with the number 7 or the movies Lucky Number Slevin and Ocean’s Seven but did you know that the number 6 is auspicious in matters with love and relationships in Chinese culture? There was also a fragrance for men made by fashion designer Liz Claiborne called Lucky Number Six and the Patriots will be hoping for their sixth consecutive victory when they face off against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts tonight.

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Out with the old and in with the new is an expression that billions across the globe know very well but in the National Football League that saying doesn’t always ring true. Tom Brady has continued to defy the odds in his career and he has done that more than ever since the defeat to Kansas City back in week 4. He and the Patriots continued their fantastic streak last week when they blew out the Denver Broncos 43-21.

The Broncos are in the eyes of many the best team in the AFC if not in football but with the New England victory last week it caused many to rethink their opinions and once again the win gave Terrific Tom some more pulling power in the Brady-Manning debate as he extended his winning record over his long term record to 11-5. After trailing a close first quarter 7-3 the Patriots battled back to completely smash Denver in the second quarter scoring 24 consecutive points.

From then on out the Patriots were in cruise control with Brady, making his 200th career start with the win giving him his 155th win (the most of any QB ever), completing 33 of his 55 attempted passes with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski hauling in 9 receptions each for a combined 194 yards. Those two were Brady’s main targets as the Patriots offense continues to up the gears week by week; Gronk was the standout player though as he decimated the Broncos defense and made one of the most spectacular catches of the season.

Now the Patriots walk in to Lucas Oil Stadium tonight to take on the epitome of “the new” type of NFL quarterback in the shape of Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts with huge playoff implications. With seedings, home field advantage and a potential bye week at stake on the line it makes tonight’s game an intriguing contest as with New England at 7-2 and the Colts at 6-3 a win for either team would put them in prime position for one of the two byes on offer going in to the postseason.

With both teams coming off a bye week giving them an extra weeks preparation ahead of tonight’s crucial game you can expect it to be a fantastic affair. The Luck led Colts have been high flying this season. After starting the season 0-2 the Colts went on a five game winning streak of their own before losing a crazy game to Pittsburgh 51-34 on the road but bounced back at MetLife Stadium when they convincingly defeated the Giants 40-24.

Since Luck came in to the league the Colts are 17-4 at home including their amazing comeback against the Chiefs in the wildcard round of last seasons playoffs. Tom Brady and co are use to overcoming obstacles and Indianapolis are slight favourites ahead of tonight’s matchup in what many are anticipating to be a close one. In the two previous encounters between Brady and Luck the Patriots have blown out the Colts 43-22 in last years playoff game and 59-24 in Luck’s rookie season back in 2012.

Both of these teams have come a long way since last years playoff game and both are very improved in various departments which is what makes, in my opinion, tonight one of the games of the season especially with all that is at stake. If the Patriots get the victory tonight it’ll give them a huge boost in terms of going on to clinch the 1st seed as well as home field advantage for the postseason which is what they will want to keep away from Denver so that they can guarantee that the road to Super Bowl 49 goes through Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots and Broncos had an arms race this past offseason to improve their rosters in hope of ensuring a trip to Arizona next February but the Colts are the dark horses in the conference especially as Andrew Luck is the best young quarterback we have ever seen just because of the impact he has had on the NFL in his first 2 and a half years and the talent he has displayed. When the Colts last faced New England they had no running game with only Donald Brown, now a Charger, playing and lacked any offensive weapons due to injuries.

Since then Colts legend Reggie Wayne has returned to action, TY Hilton has broken out to improve his game and become an established wideout in the league who provides a down field threat along with tight end Dwayne Allen who provides a nice balance to Luck’s friend from Stanford Coby Fleener. Add that with Hakeem Nicks, who despite not having a good year so far is a good player, along with rookie receiver Donte Moncrief and a one to punch of Bradshaw and Richardson in the backfield and it is clear to see why this Colts offense is on pace to potentially break records in 2014.

With that being said they are facing a Patriots defense tonight which under the guidance of defensive mastermind Bill Belichick has the potential to stop any offense in the league and did stop what many feels to be the best last week when they made Peyton Manning’s Broncos look ordinary. Despite having Chandler Jones absent due to injury the brilliance of New England’s secondary has given the front seven opportunities to be creative in getting to the quarterback and stopping the run which has helped the likes of Jamie Collins, Hightower and Rob Ninkovich as we saw last week with the latter’s interception against Peyton.

With Revis and Browner playing man coverage on the outside they can stop near enough any receivers in the league. Revis’ skill set is amazing for a corner and with one of the best safeties in the league in the form of Devin McCourty just behind him it allows for not only Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia to be creative with defensive play-calling but it also benefits the strengths of the two corners as it allows them to be aggressive. This also allows Patrick Chung and, when he gets on the field, Kyle Arrington to be effective in the secondary and break up plays.

When I previewed the Patriots and Broncos game I said it would come down to who wins the battle between the Denver offense vs the Pats D. With the latter winning it ensured that New England held on to their healthy lead which gave their offense the opportunities they needed to score more points to finish their opponent off and I would say that the same applies tonight if not more with the Pats being on the road. The offense will have to deal with crowd noise etc and while we know Tom Brady is one of the best QB’s of all-time in road games you need your defense to come up big and make stops in order to take some of the pressure off of your offense as well as give it opportunities.

If this happens I expect the Patriots to have the tools to defeat the Colts. Indianapolis’ defense played lights out during their 5 game winning streak but were brought back down to earth against the Steelers after their star cornerback Vontae Davis was knocked out the game. Davis is one of the better players in the league at the corner position but depsite is talents this Colts defense usually struggles against tight ends and when you considering that the Patriots have the best tight end in the league in Rob Gronkowski, 8 touchdowns this season, you would say that the Patriots have a critical advantage which could make the difference needed in a game that is anticipated to be so close.

Offensively you can expect the Patriots to spread the ball round like they’ve done in the past 5 games to Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Julian Edeleman and even Tim Wright who I think will be used a lot more tonight considering the Colt’s vulnerability to tight ends. In the big moments though it will be Gronk who is thrown to and if the Colts don’t come up with a game plan to try and limit him especially in the red zone then I think the Patriots will pick off any weaknesses this Indie D has and will punish them.

One thing’s for sure and that is that tonight’s matchup is a mouthwatering encounter with both QB’s at the top of their respective games. Tom Brady has rediscovered his hall of fame form following a run of 5 games which has seen him throw 18 touchdowns to just one interception with a completion percentage of over 70% meaning he is now 5th with 22 touchdowns on the year to just 3 interceptions (tied with Aaaron Rodgers for the lowest among starters). The Patriots winning run also means that Brady now has a passer rating of 103.5 which also ranks 5th. His opposite number Luck ranks 2nd in touchdowns with 26 TD’s and leads in terms of passing yardage with 3,085 yards. Despite the fact that Luck thrown more passes than other QB in the league it is a testament to his abilities that he has managed to keep his completion percentage at 63.6%

So with everything being weighed up now we just have to wait a few hours to see who wins when the best of the old guard takes on the best of the new guard in the third dual between Tom Brady’s Patriots and Andrew Luck’s Colts. A Patriots win means they will take control of the AFC following Denver’s defeat to St. Louis earlier on today which is exactly what they need as they have two tough tests against the Lions and Packers coming up. New England would be a game ahead of the Broncos and two games ahead of the Colts with the head to head over both so tonight’s game is huge but will their Luck run out when they go in to the Dome tonight?

Historically the Patriots are 9-2 in their last eleven post-bye games. Bill Belichick with an extra week of preparation is a recipe for disaster for any opposing team as he will have planned everything to the exact final details along with the fact that quarterback Tom Brady’s record when playing inside a dome is 10-2 record, 26 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions I will go with a New England victory.

Prediction: Patriots 35-27 Colts

Bold Prediction: With the Colts down by a point 28-27 Andrew Luck looks to seal off a memorable 4th quarter comeback victory but a tipped play by Jamie Collins give Brandon Browner a ‘lucky’ pick 6 to gain some personal redemption after TY Hilton embarrassed him when the Colts faced the Seahawks. The return goes all the way in to the Colts end zone to put the Pats up by 8 and seal the game for New England as the Colts have just 10 seconds remaining and no timeouts!

Patriots Embarrassed on Monday Night Football

It was nothing like Patriots fans had imagined while watching the team play on Monday night. It was something that was out of Bill Belichick’s and Tom Brady’s nightmares, as they got absolutely annihilated!!!!! It would be fair to say it was the team’s worst loss since losing 31-0 to the Bills back in 2003.

Chiefs

The 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was a pathetic showing for everybody on the team. Bill Belichick probably came close to cutting guys in the middle of the game, and he had no problem putting starters on the bench in the 2nd half. After Logan Ryan committed a penalty as time expired in the 2nd quarter that allowed Kansas City to kick a field goal to take a 17-0 lead into the half, Belichick had words with Ryan, and didn’t see as much playing time as he used to.

In the 3rd quarter, former 1st round draft pick Nate Solder completely missed a tackle and allowed a defender to easily get to Brady and force a fumble inside the Chiefs red zone which led to another easy touchdown for the Kansas City offense. The next time the offense had the ball back, Solder found himself on the bench with Marcus Cannon in at his position.

In the first half, the Patriots only had 96 yards on offense compared to Kansas City’s 303 yards, and only had 5 first downs. They Chiefs easily ran against the Patriots, and also threw successfully against them with ease. It was the 1st time ever a team has gotten 300 yards against a Bill Belichick team in his career.

Tom Brady had shown his age this season, and this game was incredibly bad. Even with no good receivers, we all expect Brady to be at least decent enough to keep his team in the game. He couldn’t do much of anything. On a 3rd and three and with an opening to run in the 2nd quarter, he tried making a terrible pass, and the Patriots were forced to punt. If this keeps up, fans will be demanding Jimmy Garrapolo sooner rather than later.

For the positives that can be taken from this game for the Patriots: there are none. It was that bad. Nothing looked good as they made Alex Smith look like Joe Namath circa 1969. The minor positive was Jimmy Garrapolo looked pretty good, but that was also in garbage time, so in the end it doesn’t mean much. The win was the first win for Andy Reid against Belichick in his career.

Although it’s a shorter week because it was a Monday night game, this week will be a long one for the Patriots as they have a lot of work to do to prepare against the Cincinnati Bengals next week, who they lost to last season in Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see what Belichick and his coaches can do to mix things up and actually put a half decent team onto the field next week.

Patriots Defeat Raiders, Feels More Like a Loss

It took an interception by Vince Wilfork with under 2 minutes to go, to keep the double digit underdogs, Oakland Raiders, from tying, and forcing overtime against the New England Patriots. It was a 13-6 WIN, but it felt more like a loss for the now 2-1 Patriots. It’s a weird feeling for fans of a winning side, to feel like they lost. Maybe it’s only something Patriots fans feel because they’ve been so spoiled over the past 15 years, either way, it was not a good win for the Patriots.

Brady Raiders

After last week’s win in Minnesota, Tom Brady spoke out about how the Offense needed to step up, and play better together. That didn’t happen this week. In fact it seemed to be worse than it what it was last week. The offense that has been displayed through the first three weeks of the season does not look at all like a Super Bowl caliber offense.

Brady was 24 for 37 with 234 yards, and one touchdown, which was thrown to Rob Gronkowski with 4:14 left in the first half to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead. That was the only Touchdown scored all day by either side.

Although only one Touchdown was scored, the Patriots and Raiders but had good chances to find the endzone, but neither could get the job done. The best chance for the Patriots to score 7 was at the start of the 4th quarter, and the ball on the Raiders 2 yard line. Brady threw a great pass up the middle to Gronkowski, but he was unable to hang on to it. So Brady tried again, this time to Danny Amendola. Despite a dive by Amendola, he was unable to make the catch, and the Patriots had to settle for the field goal, which put them on top, 13-9.

The missed touchdown by Amendola was the only pass targeted to him all game. The common theme for Brady thus far has been avoiding Amendola like the PLAUGE!!! The only receiver Brady has trusted this year has Julian Edelman, and occasionally Gronk. Edelman once again was the top receiver in the game with 10 receptions and 84 yards. There is clearly some sort of disconnect between Brady and his receivers, and maybe JUST MAYBE Brady is responsible for a lot of the Patriots struggles. (I know, blasphemy just by suggesting Brady might be responsible.) Read more

Patriots Off-Season Match-Up Mania: Coach BB vs. GM BB

edelman


I have no idea where Bill Belichick is going to be during the Super Bowl on Sunday. He may or may not watch the game, but I bet he’s already focused on the 2014 New England Patriots.

Lots of time has been spent since the AFC Championship Game congratulating BB for his coaching performance with his 13-5 club. I’m not terribly focused on where to rank this season in terms of his coaching resume except to say if it was a great coaching job then it means he created a flawed team as a GM that he had to coach up.

BB has a busy winter and spring ahead of him. Some ideas:

Changes are already under way within Bill’s coaching staff. Dante Scarnecchia and Pepper Johnson, two positional staffers who toiled under Belichick seemingly forever, or, since he became the coach of the NEP, are gone. Were they problems with the team? That answer could depend on how their replacements do in 2014.

Bill might need to coach up the coaches who stayed, honestly. I’m not the only person who was puzzled by some coaching decisions during the season. The Patriots didn’t react too well to the loss of Aqib Talib in Denver two weeks ago in the 26-16 conference title game loss and in-game adjustments have always been part of the Belichick aura.

Coaches, of course, need players to coach. This team faced a consistent challenge of keeping players on the field because of injury after injury. Yes, they reached the AFC Championship game despite injuries, but would a healthier team be in New York now prepping for the Super Bowl in place of Denver. Talib is just one of several names like Vince Wilfork, Rob Gronkowski or Danny Amendola that failed to reach the end of the season intact. Long term, do the Pats need to be wary of players who can’t stay on the field? For example, does Talib deserve a big payday if he can’t finish the AFC title game every year?

Aside from injuries, the biggest issue all season was who could Brady throw to. Not signing Wes Welker and signing Amendola instead was not a success. Julian Edelman proved himself and is now on the open market. Rookies like Aaron Dobson were either unavailable or dropping passes for most of the year. Could BB be forced to choose between Edelman and Amendola?

This rumor/gossip about Larry Fitzgerald coming here seems unlikely to happen. Will the draft bring more young receivers for Tom Brady? Again, unlikely. But, draft experts expect the same. With a very young club, I’m expecting more veteran value roster moves we’ve come to expect from the Pats.

 

Patriots Match-Up Mania: Playoffs?

Tom Brady practices for the Ravens.

Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game.” – Jim Mora.

Certain games defy analysis of important match-ups. When the New England Patriots travel to Baltimore to meet the Ravens on Sunday, that’s the situation each team faces.



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Rivals who know each other after six battles in four seasons, only one of which was truly one-sided. It comes down to a cliche bowl: Who wants it more. The best team wins. Something like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are certain factors that could sway the outcome either way. Will receivers catch balls that hit their hands? Danny Amendola. Turnovers? Stevan Ridley. Stop Joe Flacco and Ray Rice? Defense.

In short, as Bill Belichick described it, it’s a big game requiring the Pats best effort of 2013:

We know this is a big challenge for us headed down there Sunday. It’s a big game for both teams and I think we’re excited to play, excited for the opportunity and the challenge and we’ll need our best football from everybody…That’s what it will take down there I’m sure. That’s what we’re gearing up for, that’s what we’ll try to be. The Ravens are a very good football team. They have a real solid organization and they’re tough. We’ll need to be at our best to beat them.

There’s a big reward awaiting the Pats if they overcome this challenge and that’s a clinched playoff spot and a fifth-straight AFC title. Just win and be in. Going into game 16 without punching a playoff ticket is a bad thing. Tom Brady, who has had a frustrating season despite 4,000+ yards passing – again – is aware of the implications. “We need it,” Brady said. “There’s no bigger game than this one for us. ”

He also made a comment that summed up the season well, too.:

It would be nice to go out there and play this team and play them well for once. We haven’t done a great job playing against them offensively.

There are certainly reasons for it, but how many times this season have they put it all together against a good team? A bad half followed by a display of offensive prowess. Good defense combined with turnovers and poor third-down execution. You’ve seen it.

Before they can worry about playoffs, they need to be playing good football.

Patriots Match-Up Mania: WWBBD?

Rob Ninkovich


Here is the question that fans of the New England Patriots must consider with three winnable games sitting between them and the AFC’s top playoff seed: Will they run out of players?

Okay, they won’t. But, a seemingly endless spate of injuries – you all know the names – makes me wonder how Bill Belichick compensate for some obvious holes in his roster. What will BB do?

Start with the offense that has trouble starting on time lately. In the three prior games the Patriots managed to win, their opponents led by a combined 47-7 at the half. And that was with Rob Gronkowski. Last week’s comeback did come after Gronk was injured which provides some hope. But, 60 minutes of effort would be helpful.

How will the Pats react to losing Gronk again? (How does he keep getting hurt when he seems unbreakable?) First off, Matthew Mulligan isn’t the answer. He seems to be willing to step up and “replace” Gronk, but he’s an undrafted free agent from Maine. He’s not Gronk. Does he play golf?

Brady has confidence in Mulligan, sort of:

We still have confidence that we can go out and win games. You have to try to figure out what we’re going to do to still get the level of production that’s good enough to win. If you’re an eligible receiver, then you’ve got to do something with it, so we either run it better or throw it better or catch it better or run with it after the catch. It’s not going to be an excuse for us, I know that.

The players most likely to see the ball more post-Gronk are Shane Vereen and, surprisingly, Stevan Ridley. Vereen has proven to BB and, more importantly, Tom Brady, he knows what to do with the ball when he gets it. He can run, catch and score.

Ridley’s status is tenuous as depends on his fumbles. But, with a major target like Gronk gone, TB12 needs a reliable ground option to turn to. His next fumble might be his last as a Patriot.

BB needs to tighten up the defense, too. Josh Gordon abused Aqib Talib last week as Talib wasn’t 100%. BB must continue to keep shaking things up on defense to stop the opponents on offense.

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