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Patriots vs Packers: Is this a Super Bowl preview?

Today sees the 9-2 New England Patriots take their seven game winning streak to Lambeau Field where they will face off against the Green Bay Packers in a clash between what many consider to be the two best teams in football right now. This is the first time ever that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers’ teams will go head to head which is something that somehow adds more spice to what is already the most mouthwatering affair of this 2014 NFL season to date.

In their last 3 games the Patriots have faced all division leaders and defeated all 3 in comfortable fashion. Before their bye week they hosted the Denver Broncos and blew them out of the water with Tom Brady putting on a passing clinic in a 43-21 victory and after the bye week they went to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Colts where they wore down the defense of the Colts with ground and pound football in a 42-20 win.

That game saw a new starlet in the form of Jonas Gray who scored 4 touchdowns that night to deflate Indianapolis just as they did in last years playoffs when LaGarrette Blount did the same in another blowout victory. Blount has sinced resigned with the team and celebrated his return with a touchdown in last weeks 34-9 victory against Detroit at Gillette Stadium where the Patriots frustrated the Lions’ offense with brilliant defensive play. They mixed up the schemes and showed different coverages to limit Calvin Johnson and frustrate Matthew Stafford.

The Patriots recipe to success many times during the Brady-Belichick era has been playing 60 minutes of smart football and that is what they will need tonight when they come up against Aaron Rodgers and co. Just like New England the Green Bay Packers started the season at 2-2 and came under intense scrutiny from many but following a blowout defeat on the road in New Orleans 44-23 before their bye week the Pack have come out all guns blazing and have scored a combined 132 points in their last three outings giving them huge wins at home over Chicago and Philadelphia before winning a close one against Minnesota on the road 24-21 last weekend.

The fact that the Patriots have also scored over triple digits in total with 119 points in their past three games just shows how breathtaking today’s game could be and with Brady and Rodgers at the QB position it is very unlikely that these two teams will disappoint us. With the two best offenses in football at their disposal Brady and Rodgers will both be looking to put their best work on display under the lights of prime time football. Terrific Tom has 26 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions on the year with 2,998 passing yards to his name too and a QB rating of 101.0 which is very impressive considering how poorly the Pats started the year.

A-Rod better known as Aaron Rodgers well he has been in devastating form this season and has accumulated 30 touchdown passes to just 3 picks and is also just short of the 3,000 yard passing mark with 2,957 yards on the year. He is way ahead passer rating wise of all the other quarterbacks with a ridiculous overall rating of 119.3 which just explains how great Rodgers is. Tonight personally and what a lot of people have suggested already is a matchup between the two best quarterbacks of their respective eras and between two QB’s who will definitely be in the conversation for greatest quarterback of all-time for years and years to come.

Who will lead their team to victory in today’s game?

Now despite the Packers early season woes besides a rusty opening season game against Seattle where Green Bay looked scared they have bounced back very well to get to 8-3 and as mentioned previously their displays in recent weeks have been amazing but the Patriots troublesome times early on in 2014 are almost incomparable. It has been said time after time but after that Monday Night madness against the Chiefs back in week 4 the Patriots came under so much scrutiny in particular Tom Brady.

After that huge bounce back win against Cincinnati the Patriots have been on a hot streak steamrolling through everyone in their path. Despite his supposed woes Brady still managed to rarely turn the football over even during this offenses poor start to the year now when you combine the fact of Brady’s intelligence with how well this New England offense is doing then you can start to see as well as appreciate why this team is so devastating. The return of Rob Gronkowski has been unquestionable one of the main ingredients for how effective this Patriots offense has been and it has been brilliant to see Gronk return to the superstar level that only a handful of other players in the league can reach. He continues to dominate opponents and will be a real handful for the Packers and it will be interesting to see if Clay Matthews stays as an inside backer especially given the resurgence of the Patriots run game.

The prospect of a Gray-Blount one two punch gives Shane Vereen the ability to do what he does best which is catch passes out of the backfield and cause mismatches for opposing defenses. As we know this Patriots offense has been in devastating form with everyone contributing to its success which has helped Brady and Gronk have such a devastating affect just because they don’t have all the pressure to get it done themselves now that everyone else is stepping up and a lot of that credit should go to the offensive line who, now that it has a settled starting line up, has brought the stability and great lineman play needed in order to make this New England offense tick once again.

Having a mad scientist-coaching mastermind in the form of Bill Belichick helps the Patriots offense because with the players they have on the other side of the ball it has given them the opportunities needed to make plays and both the defense and offense are helping each other out. This is especially true this season as this Patriots defense is probably the best we have seen since 2007 when New England almost pulled off the perfect season. Bill Belichick is having lots of fun defensively this year and he along with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are thriving with the talent they have on this side of the ball with the likes of Revis, Browner, Arrington Hightower, Collins, Chung, McCourty, Chandler and Chris Jones, Ninkovich and even the new additions of Ayers and Casillas coming to mind.

They’ll need whoever is on the field tonight to be at their best when they come up against Rodgers and co as they have a stellar receiving core with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson leading the way along with a supporting cast of Boykin and rookie wideout Devante Adams who has slowly worked his way in to the offense. Add running back Eddie Lacy to the mix who despite some personal on-field troubles himself at times this season still is considered to be one of the best backs in the league and you can see why this Packers offense is equipped to succeed. In a pass heavy team Lacy’s stats sometimes don’t reflect well on him but with his obvious talents it gives a different dimension to Green Bay and a running back that has the ability to succeed where maybe in years gone by this is something they’ve lacked.

As I mentioned before tonight sees, in my opinion, the best quarterbacks of two generations/eras whatever you like to call it go head to head. Brady and Belichick have not only won three Super Bowls together but they have also combined to pick up numerous accolades along with the respect of many for their many achievements over the last almost 15 years. Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers if anything are both the next generation of Brady and Belichick. They may only have one ring to their name but surely at some point in their careers in Wisconsin at least a second championship will follow but the same regarding a fourth has been said about Brady-Belichick yet that hasn’t happened as of yet.

Belichick and McCarthy both teased the media this week with the pair both asked to compare the two quarterbacks early in the week. Belichick’s reply was “They both wear No. 12,” before ending the media session and McCarthy’s response to the same question was that “They’re both from California,” before he ended his session too. With both these franchises in prime positions to make a run at a championship under the guidance of brilliant head coaches and fantastic quarterbacks stemming down to well equipped offenses that know what it takes to win games in any way shape or form it is no wonder that this is being hyped up as a preview of Super Bowl XLIX come February 1st.

Personally I don’t see both of these teams making the big game and if I had to choose one to make it I would go with the Patriots just because they seem to be more well rounded overall of these two teams but in regards to tonight’s game going to Lambeau Field is no easy task and that is what makes the prospect of tonight’s matchup so gripping with the winner of tonight’s game probably the hardest choice to make. Will the Patriots assert themselves as the best team in the NFL by making it 8 wins straight in one of the toughest places to play in football or will Rodgers and co derail the Brady led New England train and rack up their 4th straight win to take a step closer to getting a bye going in to the postseason… We’ll find out in a few hours!

So, About That Red Sox Outfield…

With reports new acquisition Hanley Ramirez will move to left field, here’s how the Red Sox depth chart as it currently stands. Note the Red Sox outfield. It’s hard to believe that only two out of a total nine were on the 2013 championship team roster.

red sox outfield Cherington sure has his work cut out for him in the coming months…. time to trade an outfielder or three for some quality starting pitching.

Hot stove coming in hot!

 

B’s Beat: The Merlot Line Continues To Struggle

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The Boston Bruins’ Merlot Line has been a sparkplug for the team for the better part of the last four seasons. The B’s struggled to create the perfect fourth line for a few years with guys like Stephane Yelle, Steve Begin, and Glen Metropolit at center, before making a trade with the Panthers for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell in 2010.

Obviously Horton was the big piece in that deal, but Campbell was more than just a simple throw in. He immediately brought stability to the line that turned into the best fourth line in the game. It could actually be argued that the rest of the NHL followed suit with their fourth lines after watching the B’s roll all four lines en route to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years against Vancouver.

I am not being so overly dramatic as to say they changed the game, but teams definitely took notice.

Shawn Thornton provided the brawn and energy for that line, Campbell was an all-around defensive guy with the occasional offensive flair, and Daniel Paille was a speedster with the ability to keep opposing defensemen honest. They just had unreal chemistry that you can’t teach.

So what happened to them?

Well for starters, the NHL is starting to trend away from the enforcer type guys like Shawn Thornton. The Bruins cut ties with the 37 year old winger last season and he signed with the Florida Panthers in the offseason. His character and leadership will clearly be missed, but his play on the ice was definitely beginning to show signs of wear.

I understand that it may be difficult for Paille and Campbell to have to adjust to him moving on, but I don’t believe for a second that his departure is affecting them as much as it seems. They also have a new linemate in Simon Gagne who is coming off of a full season of no NHL action.

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B’s Beat: Seth Griffith Making The Most Of Opportunity With Bruins

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One of the biggest problems for the Boston Bruins this year, aside from consistency, is their inability to replace the void Jarome Iginla left when he decided sign with Colorado. Guys like Iggy obviously don’t grow on trees, which is why it was nearly impossible to replace him in free agency



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Hell; even if there was a guy like him available in free agency, it isn’t like they could afford it given their terrible salary cap situation. Who am I kidding?

In the offseason; the B’s were essentially forced to plan on giving a shot to the underrated Loui Eriksson, who underwhelmed in his first season in Boston due to two significant concussions. It wasn’t ideal for the team to break up the Loui and Carl Soderberg connection, but they really didn’t have a choice.

That was until the team stumbled out of the gate, the Soderberg line was the only successful line, and they proved that their chemistry was too good to split up.

This development left the B’s back at square one with the Krejci line, right wing problem. They tried plugging Ryan Spooner as that team’s center to no avail, Matt Fraser had an opportunity to step in and earn himself a spot, but he underwhelmed.

It was at this point that the Bruins called up diminutive winger Seth Griffith from Providence.

Griffith was a fifth round for the Bruins in 2012. He played his OHL career with the London Knights from 2009 to 2013 and amassed 102 goals, 129 assists, and a +36 in 207 games. He was also a stellar playoff weapon for the Knights with 26 goals, 36 assists, and a +18 in 56 games. Griffith was also part of the team when they won back-to-back OHL Championships in 2012 and 2013.

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B’s Beat: Claude Julien’s Extension, David Pastrnak, And Injury Updates

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The Boston Bruins signed Head Coach Claude Julien to a three year extension last Sunday. The moves come after a few days of speculation from various media members around the hub. While it is unclear as to whether or not he had another year left on his deal or not, the B’s were wise to avoid leaving Julien as a “lame duck”.

Julien is the longest tenured coach in the NHL aside from Detroit’s Mika Babcock, who himself may be with a new team next season. I believe it’s a good move for the team, as Julien has really brought a winning system to the team, while also creating its identity. Sometimes a coach’s voice can fall silent after many years with a team (see Barry Trotz), but he has done well in keeping the team hungry and competitive over the last 5-6 years.

The former Jack Adam’s winner has a career record with the B’s of 318-171-65, a Stanley Cup with the team in 2011, and an Olympic gold medal with Canada in this year’s Sochi Olympics.

The extension is expected to run through the 2017/18 season, though it unclear as to how many years he had left on his current contract as said above.

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Adorable Little Bruins Fan Fist Bumps Players After Pre-Game Warm-ups (VIDEO)

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Hockey players are probably the nicest and all around best athletes in sports. They always take time out for the kids, especially this adorable little Bruins fan after pre-game warm ups.

This little guy is having the time of his life fist bumping the players as they exited the ice….

Reason #237, why hockey is the best sport on the planet!

Pot of Baked Beans Goes To Hockey Web Caster!

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