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Patriots Tweets Of Interest: Former Pats Teammates Congratulate Talib On HUGE Contract


In this social media age, NEWS and ODDITIES are all around you and at your fingertips. With a tap of your smartphone, you can find out what your favorite athlete or celeb is doing and thinking. Some things make you SCRATCH your head or say HMM.

The members of the New England Patriots are no different, they are quite in tune with the Twitter Machine.

In this edition: Former teammates wish Aqib Talib all the best on his HUGE payday

 

HOPE and PRAY there are tweets that welcome Darrelle Revis to the Patriots soon…

Patriots Match-Up Mania: Tournament Time

Will Bill still smile tonight?

Will Bill still smile tonight?

Tom Brady isn’t really matched-up against Andrew Luck tonight, or is he? They’re never on the field together so they can’t block or tackle each other. However, the presence of both men under center is the decisive factor for both teams.

 

Brady is Brady. His playoff resume is well known and boasts the most playoff wins (17) ever. He’s also struggled lately in the postseason with a 5-5 mark in the last 10 games. He’s been erratic at times this season, largely because of the chaotic state of the offense around him. He’s still the essence of the New England Patriots, and the ubiquitous Patriots Way. He said while esponding to a question about facing Luck’s Colts and Luck himself:

 

My motivation is pretty simple. I just try to win, that’s what I try to do and try to be part of the reason why we’re successful. That’s part of doing my job and trying to be the best I can be for the team…To be a professional athlete and to play at this high level with this level of competition, winning is the only thing that’s important. That’s one goal and one objective that I’ve had for a  and very long time.

 

 

The media coverage of Luck makes him sound like a Brady clone. Is there a difference between the two, beyond the age and experience factors? I thought of two distinctions.

Mobility. Brady can’t move. We’ve all seen him try and we’ve seen him not scramble when he possibly could. Luck is RGIII compared to Brady. Against Kansas City, Luck displayed some elusiveness with the touchdown he scored after he recovered a fumble.

Weapons. Luck’s team might be the only team left with fewer established options than Bill Belichick’s squad. T.Y. Hilton is the target of choice for Luck and should face the Aqib Talib treatment from the Pats tonight. Julian Edelman at least has Danny Amendola running routes alongside him. And, would anyone trade LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley for Donald Brown and Trent Richardson?

 

The quarterback play is usually a huge factor in a game. Luck doesn’t have much around him to work with. BB’s defense keeps getting injured, just ask Brandon Spikes. Jamie Collins and Dane Fletcher are the next in line to do their jobs. Two other key players should be Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones who need to keep Luck in line and possibly provide a sack or two.

NFL Week 13 Preview: Patriots @ Texans

Coming off the greatast comeback in franchise history, TB12 looks to lead the Patriots into another December run before the playoffs

It’s been over a month since the Patriots have had a 1:00 game. After an emotional and exhausting 34-31 comeback OT thriller against the Broncos, New England is set up for a trap game against the 2-9 Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Just a year ago, Matt Schaub & Arian Foster traveled into Foxboro dawning letterman jackets and an 11-1 regular season record. After losing that game and their hold on 1st place in the AFC, the Pats sent them home again in the AFC Divisional round with a 41-28 defeat. Neither Foster nor Schaub will be suited up against New England this year however. Schaub injured his foot/ankle in Week 6 and is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw pick-sixes in four straight games. Rookie QB Case Keenum, University of Houston alum, has stepped in nicely for the turnover-prone Schaub. Stud Foster had season-ending microscopic lumbar discectomy surgery (back) in Week 9, leaving the banged up ribs of Ben Tate to carry the rock alongside undrafted rookie free agent Dennis Johnson.

With great preseason hype and hopes of returning to the playoffs in 2013, Houston won their first two games and lost their next nine (1-5 at home). New England’s three losses on the year have come on their last three road games (CAR, NYJ, CIN), putting them at (2-3) away from Gillette. They have not won a game on the road since September and are in jeopardy of recording their first four-game road losing streak since 2000. Despite being 1st in the NFL in opposing pass yards at 171.8 YPG, Houston has had a nightmare of a season and is in serious contention of earning the top pick in the 2014 draft. There has been some chatter about the natural grass at Reliant Stadium the past few weeks. The Houston Cougars played a game in Reliant Stadium yesterday morning and there are currently no plans to replace the grass. Hopefully there is not a repeat of 2009′s injury to Wes Welker. Much has also been discussed about how New England does not face a team with a winning record in the rest of 2013. In order to avoid falling into the trap, here are three keys to victory for the Patriots in Week 13:

1) Turnover Battle: Weird things need to happen in a game in order to achieve the greatest comeback in franchise history. Last week’s start consisted of three consecutive fumbles lost on the first three NE drives. Ridley’s mishap was followed by a Brady strip-sack and a Blount fumble which had Patriots fans holding their heads in dismay. Do not expect to see Ridley in the first half of this contest, he has continued to struggle in protecting the ball and Belichick benched him for the last three/four quarters of the epic SNF comeback. He just does not give the Patriots the best opportunity to win at this time. The combination of Blount, Bolden and Vereen remains a formidable and effective backfield with three different types of backs. Julian Edelman also fumbled twice but recovered his own mistakes.

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NFL 2013: BST&N’s Patriots Midseason Report Card

The Gronk could only be held out of the endzone for so long. TB12 is back on track.



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It’s been one crazy roller-coaster ride for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in 2013. Entering the season with a key playmaker departure in Welker and Hernandez gate in full swing, the odds were not in favor of the 3-time Superbowl Champions. Furthermore, after season-ending injuries to defensive captains Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, the Red Sox playoff chase took a front-seat to what seemed like a rocky road ahead for New England. Sprinkle in Gronk’s lengthy return, Vereen’s IR stint and Amendola’s notoriously fragile nature, the Patriots seemed doomed after multiple sputtering offensive performances. Early season woes aside, Brady and company sit atop the AFC East at (7-2), while the Jets (5-4) and Dolphins (4-5) trail a few games back. There is a new powerhouse in the (9-0) Kansas City Chiefs, just one game ahead of Peyton Manning and the (8-1) Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Division leaders (6-3) Colts and (6-4) Bengals peaked early but looked subpar in Week 10 losses.

Belichick is a November and December mastermind which bodes well for the Patriots who are lucky to even be in this position in 2013. After resting up this week on the bye, New England travels into Carolina for a MNF matchup against a (6-3) Panther team that has won 5 straight – most recently San Francisco on the road. As we enter the second half of the 2013 season, check out this report card grading the Patriot’s performance thus far.

Passing Offense: C+ : Despite dropping 432 yards and 4 touchdowns on a Dick LeBeau Steeler’s defense in Week 9, Tom Brady is averaging exactly 200 yards less in 2013 (232 YPG). There is no doubt the aforementioned injuries above took a toll on TB12′s production in the first half of the year. Historically completing 63.4% of his passes, Brady sits at 57.1%, 13 TDs and 6 INT through 9 games. He passed for less than 250 yards in 5/9 games, something he only did 4 times last year. Tom had a rough October, throwing 2 TD and 4 INT but quickly dismissed skeptics with the dominating performance against Pittsburgh. On passes 11-20 yards through the air, Brady is only completing 45.7%; however he has logged 7 TD and 2 INT. His swollen hand is an afterthought and “the decline” of Brady does not seem imminent. With Gronkowski (19 rec, 284 yds, 1TD) came a renewed chemistry and a versatile offensive attack. TB12 is better than 13 TDs through 9 games, Peyton Manning has 33. The only reason they are not lower on this two weeks ago was a preview of the success that can still be attained.

Rushing Offense: B+ : What started as running back by committee has quickly become Stevan Ridley’s (118 car, 514 yds, 6 td) backfield to lose once again. The Patriots average 129.1 rushing YPG, good for 8th in the NFL. This provides an imperative balance Brady continues to lean upon during his supbar start to 2013. The Patriots came into the season with a healthy lot of 5 halfbacks, adding LeGarrette Blount and Leon Washington to go alongside Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden. Blount is the only player to remain unscathed by the injury bug, logging carries and kick returns, yes kick returns, in every game (70 car, 312 yds, 2 td). Vereen looked sharp, gaining 159 total yards in Week 1 before it was discovered his wrist needed to be surgically repaired – forcing him to IR until Week 11. With Shane out, Bolden stepped up as the passing down back with 107 yards receiving and 205 yards rushing/2 touchdowns. Depth at RB is integral and New England only looks up as do-it-all Vereen is slated to make his much needed return on Monday Night Football.

Offensive Line: C+ : The Patriots allowed 27 sacks all of last year, care to guess how many they have surrendered just over the half way point in 2013? The answer is 26, yikes. Although the Pro Bowl caliber core hogs have not changed much since last year, RT Sebastian Vollmer broke his right leg in Week 8 against the Dolphins and has been spelled by Marcus Cannon. There are many variables that have caused a spike in the number of opponents getting to Brady. First and foremost, Tom is not as mobile and athletic as he used to be. There are countless times this season where TB opts for the “safe play” by taking the sack by being passive in the pocket. He was never nimble by any means but at times turns heads with a juke here or there. Without the Gronk security blanket, Brady does not have enough chemistry to trust his receivers with risky back-shoulder attempts. In turn, plays are taking longer to execute. Furthermore, the lack of experience from the receiving corps creates situations where hot-reads become ever important. So while some of the blame is shifted off the o-line due to the rushing success, they need to give Tom more time in the pocket.

Wide Receivers: B : Amendola is what we thought he was. A talented, young and feisty competitor with a nose for big plays. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to shake the injury woes trailing him from St. Louis and has missed 4/9 games to start the year. There will never be another Welker; however, Edelman has filled the slot nicely, hauling in 49 of 74 targets for 473 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jules started the year hot with 34 receptions in the first 4 games but just 15 in the next 5. He has cooled down recently in favor of rookie Aaron Dobson (31 rec, 454 yds, 4 TD), who mysteriously overtook fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkin’s (23 rec, 334 yds, 2 TD). While Kenbrell never looked sure handed, he did make that game-winning catch against New Orleans. Gronk looks to be back at it and remains on another level. In 3 games he’s been targeted an aggressive 33 times, catching 19 of those passes at an average of 14.9 yards for 284 yards total. If he’s out there at full strength, the Patriots are dangerous contenders. “B” rating for putting up solid numbers despite a ton of drops and inexperience.

Defense Line: A- : Keeping up with the Jones’. Quickly becoming one of the most athletic and distinguished families in all of sports, Chandler Jones is making a strong case for a Honolulu dance. The DE leads the Pats with 8.5 sacks on the year, following the footsteps of Baltimore Ravens DT Art Jones and the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones Jones. He has displayed flashes of finesse and bull rushes of strength, attracting double teams as of late. Week in and week out, Chandler continues to disrupt the QB and has been the anchor on the defensive line with Wilfork out. Ninkovich remains solid with 3 sacks on the year. As a unit, New England has limited opponents to 232.8 passing YPG – good for 12th in the NFL. On the ground, teams are pounding the rock at an average of 128.2 YPG which is 30th in the NFL, that is where Wilfork is felt most. Now after losing Tommy Kelly, rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano had some serious pressure on them. How have they responded? Keep reading to find out.

Defensive Rookies: A- : The Patriots have a host of rookies receiving ample opportunity in 2013. The aforementioned DT Chris Jones has 5 sacks & 1 huge “penalty” against the Jets. Aside from that “mistake”, he has been brilliant in attempting to fill some pretty heavy shoes. Fellow DT Joe Vellano has also proven to be a solid run-stuffer half way through the year. Next up is LB Jamie Collins. Quiet to date, Collins and veteran Dane Fletcher have been splitting the reserve duties with Mayo out. It seems as though Jamie has a little ways to go in Belichick’s book. Notorious for his premature crotch grab pick six TD celebration against the Jets, CB Logan Ryan still has a lot to work on. Just last week a touchdown flew right by his head as he played the receiver, not the ball. We get it, who doesn’t love big plays? Logan has been successful rushing the QB off the edge with 1.5 sacks but will need to improve on his ball skills to become a well-rounded cornerback. S Duron Harmon only recorded 8 tackles but has a nack for the ball with 3 PD and 2 INT. These plays need to continue in the coming months. DT Michael Buchanan has not seen much time but when he has it’s been effective, getting the QB twice in 2013. That’s six rookies on defense, it’s been a while

Defensive Backs: B+ : You can’t start anywhere else except with the exceptional play from CB Aqib Talib. In the 6 games he’s started, Talib has 9 PD, 4 INT and 1 FF. He prevented the NFC’s Gronk (Jimmy Graham) from recording a single catch in Week 6 but has not seen the field since with that lingering hip injury. Spotted at practice the past couple weeks, Aqib is questionable but is expected to return against the Panthers. S Devin McCourty has carved out a nice space in the Patriots defense as a defensive captain and center fielder, making multiple TD saving deflections, breakups and 1 INT. His leadership play alongside veteran Steve Gregory makes for a solid and consistent group; quite the opposite from old friends Brandon Merriweather and Patrick Chung. Gregory was wearing the communication device in his helmet the past two games but just recently broke his thumb and is expected to miss at least a couple weeks. Kyle Arrington, Alfonso Dennard and Marquice Cole continue to be serviceable NFL cornerbacks, not making outstanding reads/jumps but not giving up homerun balls either. New England can improve on their man-to-man coverage but made enough impact plays to survive.

Special Teams: A- : Another rookie, P Ryan Allen beat out Zoltan Mesko in training camp for the gig. Mesko didn’t even make the trip to Foxboro in Week 9 – getting cut midweek. Allen is averaging 46.9 yards per boot with a 39.9 net. Although a long of 65 yards is impressive, it was a touchback and that area of his kicking needs to take a turn for the better. K Stephen Gostkowski has returned to his accurate ways, converting on 22/23 tries with a long of 54. Furthermore, he’s had his fare share of clutch kicks during a couple nail-biters. What pushes this rating into the “A” bracket is the effectiveness of PR Julian Edelman. He is average 11.5 yards per return and has made the field short for Tom Brady and company in key situations. Belichick preaches executing in “all three phases of the game” and the Patriots would not have a 7-2 record if they weren’t solid all around. If Talib can make a healthy run in November/December, watch out NFL.

Regular Season Prediction: 13-3, 2 seed behind Denver (13-3 with tiebreaker)

Playoff Prediction: Lose 34-31 in AFC Championship @ Denver

Patriots Match-Up Mania: Defense Vs. Steelers Offense

Will Belichick enjoy Sunday's result?

Will Belichick enjoy Sunday’s result?



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The New England Patriots thrive in November. Is it possible for fans to be optimistic and focus on the team’s 35-13 record in this month? Probably not.

With an offense that is only consistent in its inconsistency – three points in the first half against Miami followed by 24 in the second half is a simple example – Bill Belichick’s defensive team needs to keep beatable teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers in check.

That’s not to say there are no questions surrounding the defense. The defensive injury bug has been well documented as Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are lost for the season and Tommy Kelly and Aqib Talib remain in the air regarding their playing status. Kelly is definitely out tomorrow while Talib could play. Talib might not return until after the bye week.

I suspect the newest Patriot on the roster, Isaac Sopoaga, will be in uniform to help occupy space on the defensive line. A unstopping big man will serve to augment youngsters Joe Vellano and Chris Jones even with a lack of familiarity with the coaches and players in Foxboro. He got a nice vote of confidence from BB:

We have a couple more days to clean up a few things, but if he continues to progress through the week, I don’t think there’s any reason why he shouldn’t be ready to play…He’s a smart guy and he obviously has a lot of experience I’d say he’s had a real good career. For a fourth-round pick that’s done what he’s done, there aren’t too many of them that have done that. I think it’s been pretty good.

Pittsburgh is struggling as a team and their offense is no different as the 23rd best unit in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger can’t be overlooked, however, he is fronted by an offensive line in flux and possibly shorthanded. Chandler Jones should be able to take advantage of that situation.

NFL Week 9 Preview : Steelers @ Patriots

Gronk has been denied a touchdown in his first two contests, will the Steelers be able to make it three in a row? Odds are not in Pittsburgh's favor.

Gronk has been denied a TD in his first two contests, will the Steelers be able to make it three in a row? The odds are not in Pittsburgh’s favor, as they travel into Gillette Stadium for a nationally televised 4:25 CBS game.

Coming into the 2013 NFL season, this matchup promised to be an early November battle of two AFC heavyweights. With the Steelers currently sitting at (2-5) and the Patriots looking like a (2-6) squad with a (6-2) record, both teams find themselves in unchartered waters. After losing Mike Wallace to the Dolphins, Big Ben (8 TD, 7 INT, 46.7 QBR) has struggled without a consistent rushing attack to fall back on. Pittsburgh averages just 68.7 YPG on the ground, good for 30th in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell has flashed signs of greatness since making his rookie debut in Week 4 but has not broke a run longer than 11 yards.Better yet, the Steelers have just 1 rush longer than 20 yards. Look for the Steelers to try and exploit the absence of Wilfork and Kelly, as well as the inexperience of recently acquired Isaac Sopoaga.

Still 2 games atop the AFC East, it’s no secret Tom Brady (9TD, 6 INT, 48.6 QBR) is not playing at an elite level. Yes, he lost weapons in the offseason but TB12 continues to feel the injury bug wrath that has plagued the Patriots all season long. Amendola has missed 4/8 games and Gronk is finally back on the field for the 3rd straight week. What seemed like a rough 17-3 start to last Sunday turned into 24 unanswered points in the 2nd half. What was the deciding factor in the 27-17 victory; the (3-1) give/take ratio (3-1) in favor of the Pats. New England has forced a turnover in a remarkable 35 games in a row, look for Belichick to keep the aggressive defensive schemes rolling in Week 9. In order to stay undefeated at home and move to (7-2) before the bye, these 3 keys to victory will be imperative come Sunday at 4:25 on CBS.

1) Get Ridley going early: Enough of the disciplinary/Belichick shenanigan ghost starts in the 2nd quarter and beyond. Yes, Stevan had a rough start to the season and fumbles will most likely always haunt the back. But when it comes down to production, Ridley deserves more snaps, earlier in the game. After coming back from his early-season injury, the LSU alum has scored in 3 straight games – averaging 5 YPC on 45 carries for 225 yards and 4TD. Seeing Vereen back at practice this week is a positive sign towards his Week 11 availability coming off IR. He will slide right into the “passing back” role, currently occupied by Brandon Bolden who has played 51.3% of the snaps over the past 4 games. Pittsburgh has surrendered an average of 121.9 YPG on the ground (27th in NFL) but thrive through the air, only giving up 181 YPG (2nd in NFL). If the Pats can get it done on the ground, early and often, I don’t see this sputtering Steelers squad scoring enough points to win. Big Ben and company have scored 10 points or less in 3 of 7 games this year, yikes.

2) Finish strong:  The Patriots can take a page out of the World Series Champion’s book for this one. An ideal combination of starting fast and finishing strong is obvious; however, let’s get a bit more granular. There have been too many times on 3rd down that the first tackler gets dragged and better yet, whiffs all together. When New England starts hot, they let teams back into competition. If they get off to a slow first half, they turn up in the 3rd and 4th quarters. The Patriots have not pieced together a full 60 minutes all year, Belichick will be the first to agree. This goes for special teams as well. Old friend Zoltan Mesko returns to Gillette, replaced by rookie Ryan Allen who has filled his shoes admirably. Gostowski is back to his Pro Bowl ways, converting on 20/21 field goals and making some huge kicks late in games. On the contrary, Amendola needs to peel it back a bit. We are half way through the season and we need him for the playoffs. The white chalk is your friend, run out of bounds once in a while.

3) Disrupt Big Ben: Roethlisberger is the king of escaping sacks due to his pure strength and large frame. The Patriots blitzing schemes were impressive last week, bringing down Ryan Tannehill 4 times. The Steelers’ offensive line is vulnerable, allowing 26 sacks through 7 games, close to 3 a game. Brady hasn’t been too elusive himself, going down 23 times thus far. Chandler is playing like a Pro Bowler and the bearded Nink remains consistent. The surprises to date are the play of rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano, the recent Isaac Sopoaga trade and the injury of defensive captain Vince Wilfork. It seems as if New England has weathered the storm. Get in Big Ben’s face and the rest will play out accordingly.

Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are the weapons the Patriots need to contain. The cornerback play has been solid without Aqib and Devin McCourty has found himself at safety. Limiting these two playmakers is key and if only one finds the endzone, I like our chances. Patriots move to (7-2), win 27-17 and head into the bye clicking on all cylinders. Oh and Vereen in Week 11…

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